Will we never be free of the crafty machinations of Hideo Kojima? Sony’s E3 show saw the reveal of his new game Death Stranding, and all it’s done is create more questions.
Naturally, the internet has come out in force to try and make sense of the fantastically bizarre trailer, which sees a butt nekkid Norman Reedus cradling a baby on a beach – before we dive in, it’s only proper that you give it a watch.
So many questions. Before we get to the fan speculation, let’s take a quick look at what we do know (don’t worry, it’s really not much).
The game stars Norman Reedus, who was also supposed to appear in the cancelled Silent Hills. Death Stranding has nothing to do with P.T or Silent Hills.
We also know that the game is still early in development. Kojima Productions has yet to settle on a game engine, and the project won’t have anything to do with Ludens, the company mascot – of course, this is Hideo Kojima, so I have no idea if we can really trust any of the above.
That’s all great, but what the fuck does it actually mean? At this point, I’d say that pretty much every theory is as valid as the last. So let’s start with the most obvious connection, and something pretty much every Death Stranding speculator has hit on: The title seems to be a reference to something called “Cetecean Stranding“.
In a nutshell, a Cetecean Stranding is a natural phenomenon where aquatic marine mammals, such as whales, beach themselves. Notice all the beached animals in the trailer? That cannot be a coincidence. Of course, that still doesn’t really explain a thing.
If we return to the trailer, it’s clear that Reedus himself is stranded with the all dead fish. Reddit user SomeRandomme has posted a wonderfully in depth theory that links to the idea of a Cetecean Stranding.
I think the main thing we see here is a fundamental perversion of nature.
The sea is often described in many cultures as something that gives life. Furthermore, Kojima is known to include many references to evolution and evolutionary psychology in his games, so it’s not surprising – the sea in this trailer is probably referencing the primordial soup, where life first arose. However, here, the sea is giving death, not life. Animals are washed ashore and dead. There is a perversion of nature here. The opposite of what is supposed to happen.
They go on to note that the scar on Reedus’ belly could hint at cesarean section, and that it was he who gave birth to the baby in the trailer (another “perversion of nature”).
Our noble theorist even posits that the trailer could be dealing with the feeling Kojima had when Metal Gear was taken from him – in the preview, Reedus’ arm is attached to a handcuff. “He’s free from capture, but still bears the weight of something”.
A few people seem to agree with this part, at least.
— Danny Berbara (@hyperdude53) June 14, 2016
In the end, SomeRandomme concludes that Death Stranding is about how Norman Reedus is cloned over and over from his own body.
Oh, but it gets weirder still.
Other fans have noticed that the dog tags Reedus wears in the trailer have equations on them, which opens up a whole new set of mad possibilities.
Take a look at an enhanced picture (via Kotaku):
At any rate, these equations reference things relating to relativity and quantum mechanics, which would point to some kind of sci-fi twist. The handcuffs certainly look pretty futuristic, and this theory could definitely tie in to the clone idea.
Thanks to these equations, there are now a few fans out there who believe Death Stranding has something to do with black holes. neoGAFer Vaga writes “An example of an object where the mass is within its Schwarzschild radius is a black hole”.
To summarise (which is not easy) most people seem to think there’s a big environmental vibe, with some kind of science fiction presence (oil, beached wales, umbilical cords, clones, futuristic handcuffs).
The umbilical cords in particular are key for a lot of theorists.
Death Stranding is gonna be some fucked up alien-impregnation or rebirth shit, just watch. That electrical cord umbilical cord. Robo-baby?
— FUZE (@spectralfusion) June 14, 2016
I’m gonna level with you – I haven’t got a fucking clue what went on in that trailer and I can’t begin to wrap my head round black hole equations, clones, beached wales, and robotic umbilical cords.
One thing is certain though: Hideo Kojima has pretty much made sure that Death Stranding is the one game everyone will be talking about post-E3.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.