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The 2017 Game Awards saw the release of the third and, thus far, most revelatory trailer for Hideo Kojima's enigmatic forthcoming game, Death Stranding. Fans of Kojima's work have been eager to figure out the many mysteries provided to us by the promotional material for the game, analyzing every minor detail and painstakingly seeking out hidden messages. Some efforts have yielded fascinating fruit, such as the dog tags on the protagonist (played by Norman Reedus) being marked with mathematical equations pertaining to General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.
Despite everyone's best efforts, however, answers to many pressing questions remain frustratingly at a distance. That said, let's press on with our analysis of the Game Awards 2017 trailer for Death Stranding.
1) Sam Porter?
We finally have a name for Norman Reedus's character—"Sam." We even see the word "PORTER" on the back of his uniform, which some have speculated could be his surname. This seems probable, as another character has a different (though unreadable) name in the same place on his uniform. The name "Porter" has some interesting connotations, as a porter is a guardian of a gateway. Perhaps a gateway through which the shadow beings emerged? Or the gate between life and death? With the release of Low Roar's video "Give Me an Answer," which the band said was tied in with the story of Death Stranding, fans began speculating on what connotations this could have for the upcoming game. The video depicts three people entering a hotel, drawing straws, then entering a bathroom with a strange device. Two of them are covered in black ooze, similar to the black, inky water we see in the Death Stranding trailers, and disappear from the bathroom without a trace. This has led to the speculation that the black ooze transported the two somewhere, and that it may serve the same purpose in the game. The ooze may serve as a sort of bridge between life and death, allowing the player to move back and forth.
2) Cradle of Life
One of the most persistent mysteries of Death Stranding so far is that of the baby. It holds prominence in all three trailers so far, but what purpose does it serve? Does it involve a game play mechanic? What happens when the artificial womb is switched "on?" Why does the baby keep one eye closed when Guillermo Del Toro switches on the womb? Why does it seem to have such a deep connection to Sam, as he is seen cradling it dearly in two trailers? Interestingly, the baby is seen doing a similar gesture to Mads Mikkelsen's character, who is also speculated to have appeared in the Game Awards trailer. Are he and the baby connected somehow? Another thing worth noting is the fact that, at the end of the trailer, the baby is seen inside of Sam's stomach, and in the first reveal trailer, we see a distinct scar on Sam's abdomen. Could it be that the baby was cut out of him? Is the baby perhaps an "extra life" of sorts, your way of returning from the world of the dead to the world of the living?
Whatever the purpose of the baby is, it is clearly at the center of everything, as it connects the three main characters we have seen thus far. Speaking of connections...
3) Ties that Bind
In interviews, one thing Kojima has shared is that connections will be a major element in Death Stranding. Many speculations have been made as to what this will entail. One intriguing detail of the new trailer is the odd devices affixed to the backs of the task force members. Only one is active at a time, and they apparently detect the shadow beings. They could have to do with aiming your weapon, as they do resemble crosshairs. But since they also bear a resemblance to arms, it is my belief that they will tie into the connections mechanic, using the arms to bring things closer, to connect to things and interact with them.
4) Don't Even Breathe
However, the biggest mystery is probably that of the shadowy figures that appear looming in the sky. How are they associated with the creatures that leave the black hand prints? Are they one in the same? Or are they part of a hierarchy, with the giants controlling the smaller beings? And just what is their purpose? It may be hypothesized that these beings are here to wipe out life as we know it. That still begs the question, just what are they? Are they interdimensional beings? Lovecraftian Gods? The risen spirits of the dead? We have been given sparse clues as to the identity of these fiends, and still can only guess. The fact that they rise from the black ink implies transportation between worlds. But what world is on the other side, we can only guess.
5) The Next Explosion
Instead of a quote from William Blake, this trailer opens with Sam narrating. He talks about four explosions—one which created time and space, one that created the planets within that space, and one which created the life upon that planet. The fourth explosion, possibly the one seen in the trailer which creates a massive crater, will end life as we know it. There are many avenues of speculation we could follow here, but it seems to me that this explosion may have opened some kind of gateway, through which the massive Lovecraftian shadow beings were able to enter the world. Consider again the connotations of the name "Porter," which could imply the existence of a gate which must be guarded. Perhaps this explosion opened the gateway?
The symbolism of cycles, death, pregnancy, and birth calls to mind the mythological concept of the different ages of the Earth. In Greek mythology, it is said that the Gods tried to make man many times, once out of gold, another time from silver, and another time out of bronze. The fourth age was called the age of heroes, the end of which gave rise to the fifth cycle, the Iron Age. Perhaps Death Stranding follows a similar ideology. Could these giant shadow beings have control over the explosions, which lead to different cycles of existence? Are they here to end the current age of man? But destruction always leads to creation. In Hinduism there is the Kali Yuga, which is the fourth stage of a cycle the world is constantly moving through. The Kali Yuga is the stage of vice and destruction, the shortest and most chaotic period, which is meant to clear the Earth for the cycle to begin anew.The fourth explosion could be giving way to a sort of Kali Yuga, an age of destruction, but for this to be so, something new would have to come after. This may be where the baby comes in. This baby may be the seed which will be planted to grow the next age of man, so to speak.
There are many questions left unanswered in the three trailers so far, which we do not yet have the clues to decipher solutions to. We can only wait until Kojima drops new information, or, better yet, releases the game at long last. And whatever the truth ends up being, Death Stranding is sure to be explosive.