Grab your tin foil hats and pop the kettle on, it's speculation time...
This appears to be one of the more plausible theories kicking around as it would explain why human beings like Sam (Reedus) are able to exist on the same plain as their alien neighbors. What’s more, the web-like logo for Bridges: United Cities of America contains a map of the States with a potentially alarming hole where Delaware, New Jersey and Washington D.C. ought to be.
This, coupled with the fact that the web-like pattern originates from said crater (portal?) lends credence to this potential plot point. Even the name itself may be a reference to an interdimensional bridge (again, portal?) that formed soon after the explosion that Sam refers to in the latest trailer – an explosion which will be our last.
Even after only three trailers, it’s pretty clear that Hideo Kojima is gunning for hard sci-fi when it comes to Death Stranding – the far-future tech, the alien worlds…you name it. And one of the genre’s most common themes is the conservation of energy, whether it’s related to Earth’s dwindling resources or a whole new form of energy that’s uncovered far beyond our solar system.
Meanwhile, Death Stranding, with its allusion to interdimensional travel and black holes (see: the Dirac equation), may well take place on an alien world devoid of energy, or a far-future Earth ravaged by a nuclear explosion.
Out of luck and out of time, this theory supposes that Sam (and Guillermo del Toro’s character in the previous trailer) uses those high-tech baby chambers as a source of energy, as we see Sam’s four-pronged robot detector spring to life soon after he connects to the foetus via some form of man-made umbilical cord.
This Matrix-styled plot point is arguably one of the more plausible Death Stranding theories out there, as the idea of being tethered to life has become a recurring theme across all three trailers.
Which brings us to cloning. Three years ago, soon after the release of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar – a mindfuck in its own right – Kojima tweeted out a photo of Cess Ivory's 21 Days (h/t Reddit), a story from a Yukinobu Hoshino's Stardust Memories anthology.
It chronicles the harrowing journey of a lone biologist who winds up stranded on an alien world. To make matters worse, the planet’s environment rapidly ages its inhabitants, leaving our protagonist with little choice but to raise a clone of herself until help arrives. Sound familiar?
That tenuous line between life and death has evidently been woven into the fabric of Death Stranding, what with all the babies being carried around by their carriers. But what if that bond is stronger? What if the babies are actually miniature clones of our characters?
Once Corpse Disposal Team 6 encounter those Lovecraftian monsters, one of the unnamed crew members tosses his baby (his CLONE?) to Norman Reedus’ Sam, before stabbing himself repeatedly, further proving that Death Stranding’s cosmic enemies are only interested in humans if they’re still alive and kicking.
The baby (or babies?) is crucial, then, and according to Hideo Kojima himself, that chirpy infant ”relates to game mechanics as well as the story as a whole.”
Couple this with Low Roar’s haunting “I’ll Keep Coming,” which played over Death Stranding’s baffling reveal trailer, and Kojima’s latest venture may well incorporate cloning (and perhaps time-travel?) into its narrative.
This one is more of a tangible story clue than another theory from left-field. Because thanks to IGN, Hideo Kojima has offered up some new intel pertaining to Death Stranding’s third teaser, including a brief explanation of Timefall.
It’s the otherworldly rain that causes plants to wither and die, hence Sam’s decision to keep his hood up at all times, and if Death Stranding toys with time dilation and relativity – natural or otherwise – it would explain the decision to include this extract from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence:
“To see a world in a grain of sand. And heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand. And eternity in an hour.”
Either way, Death Stranding’s protagonist may possess some otherworldly power of his own, as Kojima teased to IGN:
"Most people in the game are aware of the rain -- and well, Norman is quite unique in this regard."
“Death will never pull you out of the game.”
That’s a quote from Kojima himself, who has since confirmed that the surreal underwater sequence seen in trailer #3 is the Death Stranding equivalent of a ‘game over’ screen. While here, players will be able to enjoy (endure?) an out-of-body experience, all the while exploring their surrounding environment in first-person.
"At that point, you're not dead or alive. It's the equivalent of that screen that says 'Continue?' and a counter ticking down towards zero.”
Kojima was one of the first developers to toy with the concept of breaking the fourth wall – be it switching controllers to overthrow Psycho Mantis or outsmarting the Colonel in Sons of Liberty. With Death Stranding, it seems the Japanese auteur is about to up the ante, and one need only look at the wristbands attached to Corpse Disposal Team 6.
Based on the trailer alone, they change color depending on the state of their owner (blue good, red bad), and may be the closest thing to a health meter in Death Stranding. There’s also a very good chance that the DualShock 4’s lightbar will reflect that fleeting morality, while some believe the handcuffs are a visual representation of the player’s control over the character, and will likewise change color depending on the in-game situation.
We are Homo Ludens, we are those who play.
Hideo Kojima has name-dropped Japanese writer and playwright Kobo Abe as a major influence on Death Stranding's story, which appears to revolve around Norman Reedus' character, Sam, being stranded between life and death – between one realm, and the next.
Perhaps Kojima's sci-fi oddity will tackle big existential themes come 20XX?
Last but not least, Death Stranding’s story appears to orbit around five spectral, god-like figures, who may turn out to be the de facto bosses.
Perhaps Death Stranding will incorporate a Dark Souls-esque system in which players trade clues and messages?
Then again, Mads Mikkelsen is a god of Danish cinema, but we’re not quite sure how that’ll filter into the story...
On a more serious note, the game itself has been described as an open-world title with action elements, while Kojima-san has mentioned multiplayer elements.
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