Making Sense of Death Stranding’s Latest Trailer

“Norman Reedus and the Funky Fetus”

One of the highlights of the 2017 Game Awards was the debut of a new trailer for Death Stranding. The brainchild of Hideo Kojima, everyone is still trying to puzzle what this brainchild is exactly.

Of the trailers we’ve seen, this marks the third. We’ve been getting closer to understanding Kojima’s new IP with each subsequent video, but not much closer. And while much of it is wrapped in a language of symbol and metaphor (that we lack the key for), there is some we can know and guess at.

Here are a few things we think we know about the game so far.

A premise of human extinction

Along with Norman Reedus being Norman Reedus, the trailer features a lot of talk about explosions. The beginning references the Big Bang, an explosion that brought us into being. The end tells us that this story is about the explosion that ends us.

While we are given a literal explosion in this trailer, it is bound to be something more than simple physics. Throughout all three trailers, we’ve seen a lot of dead things. And more than anything, the deaths seem to be bound up in the recurrent black ooze, and the invisible predators that seem to lurk everywhere. What we’ve seen of the environment reveals a wasteland, an Earth that requires something like a hazmat suit for basic survival.

Truly alien aliens

The tale of the death of Earth and our extinction is clearly related to the creatures we see. They make their first visual appearance in this trailer, appearing in the first as simply the invisible makers of black handprints.

What they are exactly is up for debate. Given their powers and twisted appearance, our guess is that they’re aliens of some form. But more than just alien in the sense that Xenomorphs are aliens—these aliens are more like creations of H.P. Lovecraft. Rather than weird perversions of reality, they seem to have the ability to twist reality themselves.

My strongest evidence for this comes from the moment the giant one shows up, just after the man floats down from the sky. When Reedus’ companion tries to kill himself, there are a few odd things that happen. For one, gravity disappears, but only with a number of select things (Reedus, as one might note, is unaffected). Second, when the other guy tries to kill himself he fails. Not because he’s stopped, because he clearly stabs himself many times. Rather, it seems as if he can’t die. He doesn’t seem to bleed from his stab wounds and he screams the entire time. Third, instead of being killed in the explosion, Reedus experiences strange visions.

Our belief is that the aliens themselves have powers tied to some sort of abstract unreality; that maybe they themselves are the embodiment of mind over matter.

The struggle of evolution

Everyone has likely seen the baby of these trailers already. It has made some viewers uncomfortable and has left many more confused. Why Reedus and his companion are caring a baby in a wasteland is anyone’s guess. But ours is that the baby represents mankind’s last hope in the face of extinction.

Beyond being intensely weird, the aliens seem to be related to us. They look strange, yes, but they still have some distinctly human features. And given that they don’t outright kill humans they find, our guess is that they assimilate them or transform them into their own kind. Mads Mikkelsen, in his trailer, seems to be working as a human agent of theirs.

It’s a hackneyed theory, but our belief is that the aliens want something to do with us. Either, like a collective, they assimilate us, or they are bringing us into an existence that represents a different evolutionary path.

Clearly, the baby represents new human life. And from the way it is guarded, it is likely a hope of survival past this alien threat. Either the baby is the last hope for our current genetic iteration, or it is something more, something to conquer our apocalypse.

That’s all we have to make sense of the game for now. It isn’t much, we know, but the material is inherently mysterious. If we have a breakthrough, we’ll likely have another article to extrapolate a theory. But for now, maybe we can all just scratch our heads together.

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