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Video Game / Death Stranding

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I'll keep coming...

Once, there was an explosion. A bang which gave birth to time and space.
Once, there was an explosion. A bang which set a planet spinning in that space.
Once, there was an explosion. A bang which gave rise to life as we know it.
And then, came the next explosion...

Death Stranding is an upcoming game developed by Kojima Productions and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4. This will be the first game Hideo Kojima has developed since leaving Konami in 2015 and the first fully non-Metal Gear game he's directed since 1994's Policenauts.note 

The game stars Norman Reedusnote  as Sam Porter Bridges, a courier living After the End who braves the dangerous wilderness between safe cities to make his deliveries. A trailer from The Game Awards 2016 confirms that Mads Mikkelsen will have a role, and Guillermo del Toro's likeness will be used for another character.note  It's also been rumored that Diane Kruger will play a character. The E3 2018 trailer confirmed that Léa Seydoux plays an important role in the game. Lindsay Wagner is also confirmed to be in the game via the E3 2018 trailer. Announcements via social media has also revealed that Edgar Wright has added his likeness to the game.


The game is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi stealth-action-horror-sandbox title with online elements, and will run on Guerrilla Games' Decima engine. There are incredibly few details available about the game's story, which appears to be the most surreal project that Kojima has ever worked on. However, the key gameplay mechanic was revealed at E3 2018; finding ways for Sam to carry his cargo — a backpack, hovering drones — through a dangerous environment, and retrieving them if they are lost. He faces various environmental hazards both mundane and fantastic; the beautiful wasteland he navigates is full of steep mountains, sheer cliffs, rushing streams, shadowy, semi-invisible humanoid creatures which hunt by sound, and the "Timefall", a strange rain that induces Rapid Aging in anything it touches.


Previews: Reveal Trailer, Game Awards 2016 Trailer, Game Awards 2017 Trailer, E3 2018 Trailer, TGS 2018 Trailer

This game provides examples of:

  • After the End: The game takes place after a cataclysmic event known to its survivors as "the death stranding." What exactly happened is not clear from the trailers, but it's heavily implied that humanity pulled the interstellar equivalent of Dug Too Deep, encountering some eldritch lifeforms that have absolutely destroyed the world.
  • Alternate Universe: Del Toro's character appears to be part of a group called "Bridges", which is based in the "United Cities of America", as opposed to United States. Additionally, some of the equations on Sam's "dog tags" relate to concepts referenced in the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics.
  • Anachronism Stew: Sam and the Bridges personnel carry futuristic clothing and equipment, but Mikkelsen's character wears modern gear (including a decked-out assault carbine and night vision goggles) and the the skeleton soldiers roam around in WW2-era uniforms, equipment and vehicles.
  • Animal Motifs: Crabs. Every trailer released thus far has begun with prominent shots of thousands of dead crabs piled up across the dirt, and of all the dead animals that have appeared stranded on beaches or lying dead in decayed water, crabs are the only one species that's appeared in all three trailers.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • The three known characters are connected to infants in some fashion: Sam finds and holds an infant in the first trailer; Del Toro's character is seen holding a device which materialises a "jar baby" inside it in the second trailer; and in said second trailer, Mikkelsen's character is connected to four soldiers via a set of wires that resemble umbilical cords. Notably, in the second trailer, Del Toro's character notices a ruined baby doll floating in the water, which then floats (is pulled?) to Mikkelsen and his squad. In the first and third trailers, Sam awakens in a pose reminiscent of the fetal position.
    • Kojima has stated one of the game's themes are the connections between people and that its cooperative mechanics are intended to connect players like a rope. In the three trailers cords are everywhere and on everyone, attached to dead animals and giving life to both dead people and inanimate objects.
    • Both trailers also heavily feature oil spilling everywhere (even doubling as a cord motif as seen in the stylized title above), dead sea animals scattered around; and handprints fading over people and other surfaces.
    • Hands. Sam has handprints all over his body in the first trailer, and all three trailers thus far feature shots of handprints appearing in the soil on their own. They appear to be the prints of mysterious, invisible monsters which possibly serve a much larger colossus with a hand-like structure for a head.
    • In the third trailer, Sam has what appears to be a dreamcatcher hanging from the rig on his back. And the infant capsule he obtains from his fallen ally has a tiny, skull-faced astronaut dangling from it like a key-chain.
    • Scars. Sam has a huge cross-shaped scar on his abdomen, Del Toro's character has a large brain surgery scar on his forehead, and Mikkelsen's has scars around his eyes, all of which pointedly contrast with the pure, unblemished bodies of the infants in the incubator jars—and the heavily scarred broken, twitching baby doll in the second trailer which has the same scars on its body as Sam.
    • Silence. There's no dialogue in the first two trailers whatsoever, and both Mikkelsen's character and the mysterious black hooded figure in the third trailer make a "hush" gesture, directly to the audience. Sam warns his allies to stay quiet to avoid detection by the mysterious invisible handprint monsters.
      [in a hushed voice] "Shut up! Don't even breathe."
  • Arc Words: "Once, there was an explosion..."
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: At least two in the third cinematic: a massive humanoid with cords attached to its fingers and a flower-petal like head; and a many-limbed aquatic creature who is only seen in a shadow on the water above Sam.
  • Bad Black Barf: All three trailers thus far have featured heavy emphasis on some kind of mysterious black oil-like slime, from which the titular "strands" or cords can be seen wrapped through and emerging (and is possibly alive in its own right) and in the third trailer, Sam pukes up some grubs covered in the stuff.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Apparently. As shown in the VGA 2017 trailer, when a character gets abducted, his colleague shoots him in the head, and later tries to shoot himself in the head when he gets grabbed. When that fails, he grabs a knife and repeatedly stabs himself.
  • Bloody Handprint: Inverted. Sam is covered in grime and Black Blood, with the only clean spots being human handprints where the grime has seemingly vanished into thin air from on his body. Other handprints that show up in the trailer appear to have the dark liquid coming up from under the sand.
  • Big Bad: The sinister commander, leading the undead soldiers, played by Mikkelsen, has been confirmed to be the "primary antagonist" of the game. Notably, this is not the same character as the mysterious floating guy in the golden mask, who will be played by Troy Baker.
  • Body Horror: The Game Awards 2016 trailer has an M36 tank destroyer covered and filled with whale organs and human bones. The 2017 one involves body being swallowed up by black slime, humanoids rising from the slime, and a baby inside Sam's throat giving the camera a thumbs up.
  • Briefcase Blaster: The 2018 trailer shows an assault rifle with this design. It's even carried inside a briefcase-shaped frame before being unfolded.
  • Combat Tentacles: Mikkelsen's character is connected to a group of undead soldiers through cords that come out of his body. Several other moving wires undulate below him during this scene, giving life to an inanimate doll. The thinner ones attached to the dead crabs in the beginning might explain where all this life force is coming from...
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Strongly implied to be the case, especially the hints given during the 2018 trailer.
  • Cool Guns: The Big Bad wields a decked out AR-15 patterned rifle loaded to the brim with attachments. The 2018 trailer also features a collapsible assault rifle.
  • Cool Mask: The Man in the Golden Mask (go figure).
  • Cool Plane: In the second trailer, WWII-era aircraft such as Mustangs, B-17s and Lancasters can be seen flying around, presumably piloted by skeleton soldiers.
  • Courier: What Sam's, and the Porter personnel's, occupation is.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: Sam has a cross-shaped scar cut into his abdomen, (as does the one-eyed Creepy Doll) and the five unnerving floating figures in the first teaser all form crosses with their bodies.
  • Creepy Doll: A broken baby doll appears in the second trailer with a leg missing, nails on its head and bearing the same scars Sam has. Once the water level rises, del Toro's character notices it being pulled towards the nearby tunnel by a strange wire. The doll glows red as Mikkelsen's character approaches, just like his minions, and then its right eye twitches open as it stops by his feet.
  • Death Is Cheap: The premiere gameplay trailer reveals that Sam has a unique condition wherein if he's abducted by the creatures, he can survive the encounter at the cost of creating an enormous explosion that wipes out everything in his general area.
  • Dem Bones: The second trailer features what appear to be skeleton soldiers, dressed in World War II-era uniforms and wielding weapons from that era.
  • Determinator: Invoked with the first teaser's music, with the refrain of "I'll keep coming." This also applies to Kojima, who chose this particular song for his first independent project to let his fans know that he won't stop coming up with new ideas, even after his horrible experiences with Konami.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The phrase "death stranding" refers to Cetacean stranding, where whales are washed up on beaches dead, which is reflected with the in-game motif of dead people being washed away by the water and onto the beaches. "Stranding" is also deliberately chosen because it contains "strand", referencing the motif of strange ropes and strings connecting everything. "Stranding" also means to be left behind and abandoned, which is once again a motif in what we currently see in the game.
  • Dramatic Unmask: The main antagonist is introduced in the second trailer wearing a helmet equipped with goggles. He lifts the goggles, the helmet fades away, and Mads Mikkelsen's character immediately holds up a finger as if to say, "Shhhh..."
    • The Man in The Golden Mask in the TGS 2018 trailer removes his golden mask right in front of Sam...Only to show that his face is still covered.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Heavily implied near the end of the third trailer. A massive creature with cords on its fingers and a flower head is controlling the invisible monsters attacking Sam and his allies, and the silhouette of a giant multi-tentacled creature can be seen flying around collecting human corpses from the ocean-like purgatory world.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The 2017 premier trailer opens by framing the game as taking place during or after a monumental event that changed the world, and closes on the possibility that it will be the end of humanity.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: In the second trailer, there are quite a few rainbows, despite the fact that the skies are completely overcast. Said rainbows are also upside-down.
  • Eye Awaken: In the second trailer, there's a dramatic slowdown as the baby held in a capsule by del Toro's character opens their right eye. Later, the baby doll that floats towards Mikkelsen's character eerily makes the same expression.
  • Fetal Position Rebirth: In both the first and third trailers, Sam is shown waking up in a way that resembles this position, continuing the weird heavy emphasis on babies and birth.
  • Genre-Busting: Stealth/horror/action/surrealist/open-world exploration, with WWII-era planes and skeleton soldiers, mysterious antagonists that control people through strands and pools of black oil, Hazmat workers with advanced robotic motion detectors and bioengineered babies in capsules, invisible alien monsters that appear only as handprints, rainbows in cloudy skies and a Green Aesop.
  • Green Aesop: The teaser strongly indicates that oil pollution of the oceans will be a topic of heavy critique, or at least will be symbolically alluded to.
  • Handy Cuffs: Sam sports a pair of high-tech handcuffs, hanging off of his left wrist. Del Toro's character also sports them, but on his right.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Invoked with the first teaser, which uses the discordant bass and mechanical clicking in the song "I'll Keep Coming" by Low Roar to add to the trailer's unnerving atmosphere.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The antagonists other than Mads Mikkelsen's character appear to be aliens resembling phantom-like humans. One of them is a Stealthy Colossus with fingers that are far reaching like ropes and possessing a head that can blossom open and consume humans.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: When it's clear that he's about to be consumed by the black oil, the other worker with Sam in the third trailer tosses Sam the "infant capsule" before attempting to shoot himself.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, and Léa Seydoux's characters are directly modeled on them, while Lindsay Wagner's is modeled on her but de-aged to her appearance around the time of The Bionic Woman. This is zigzagged with Guillermo del Toro: while he did sit to have his face and outfits scanned in, all of his motion capture and voice work will be provided by another actor, as he has his own projects to work on and Kojima didn't want to take up too much of his time. It's not clear at this time whether Edgar Wright will be providing his own voice or just his face for a character.
  • Jitter Cam: Much like MGSV, the revealed trailers have a lot of Alfonso Cuarón-esque handheld camera action going along with the use of long takes.
  • Living MacGuffin: The baby held by Sam in the first trailer is seemingly warped away by del Toro's character in the second. The latter then reluctantly takes the baby towards the tunnel Mikkelsen's character is coming from, and the soldier looks as ill-intentioned as he can while interacting with a doll that floats close to him.
  • Meaningful Name: Porter means to bring in French. Fitting, since the Porter class are couriers.
  • Mind Screw:
    • From the debut trailer, which features Sam naked with a cross-scar on his stomach holding a baby amidst whale carcasses on a beach. The only thing anyone could get out of it... was this is definitely a Hideo Kojima trailer. The rest left people too confused to comprehend the majority of it. The Game Awards 2016 trailer offers even fewer answers, if anything.
    • A user on Reddit noticed that if you play both trailers at the same time, the baby in Sam's hands disappears at the same time del Toro's character activates his machine and reveals the baby inside to us. YouTuber YongYea later tested and seemingly disproved this theory, as the "exchange" only occurs by offsetting the videos by about 27 seconds. YongYea did, however, find that the effect happens if you make both trailers the same length.
    • The game seems to be jam-packed with this. A bizarre alternate and/or futuristic version of America, upside down rainbows, ghostly aliens, sentient black ink, undead skeletons with WWII era gear, babies in capsules, everyone connected to strange ropes that resemble umbilical cords, loads of unexplained Body Horror. And there's the general mind-bending juxtaposition of gritty science fiction and disturbing supernatural horror.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: A Kojima tradition. He specifically points out that the Game Awards 2016 trailer is a mixture of important clues and Red Herrings.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The primary enemies of the game appear to be completely invisible, and the massive humanoid that seems to control them is only seen through heavy fog and from a great distance.
  • Ominous Fog: All three trailers have taken place primarily in either thick fog or overcast rainy grey skies, or both. The flower-headed giant in the third trailer and the smaller humanoids that seem to serve it are only seen through heavy grey mist that obscures all but the basic silhouettes.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Music of this type is heard when the man in the Golden mask uses his supernatural abilities to summon an eldritch, lion-like beast in the fifth trailer.
  • The Oner: The first 2.5 minutes of The Game Awards 2016 trailer are done in a single, unbroken camera movement, similar to the cutscenes from Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain.
    • Ditto for The Game Awards 2017 trailer where the first 5:30 minutes are done as one continuous long take.
  • Title Drop: The event that destroyed the world is called the "Death Stranding", and potentially relates to the inability to die within the game world.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Doesn't get much weirder than invisible monsters who hunt humans by their breath and voices and can be identified only by the human handprints they leave in the ground, who appear to be connected by the mysterious black liquid to a floating, motionless colossus that has incredibly long strands for fingers, a flower-petal like head that opens to swallow people alive, and is the size of a skyscraper.
  • Power Floats: The mysterious ominous humanoid shapes in the first and third trailers appear floating motionless above the ground, as does the black-cloaked antagonist who lands on the wrecked Bridges vehicle.
  • Rapid Aging: Thanks to Timefall, anything caught in this type of rain will age rapidly.
    • In one of the trailers, the man who gets stuck under the rubble ages significantly over the span of a few minutes, with his hair greying and ultimately balding as he becomes more and more wrinkled.
    • Plants will randomly sprout out of the ground and wither away just as soon.
  • Scenery Gorn: All over the place. Highlights include a beach filled with dead ocean life, a wrecked war-torn city, desolate rocky landscapes and what appears to be an overgrown shopping mall.
  • Scenery Porn: The game has incredible graphics. Suits, technology and weapons have a high amount of detail, often with labels that can even be read. Even the desolate, and often horrifying, landscapes are filled with a lot of detail.
  • Schizo Tech: The Game Awards 2016 trailer showed what looks like undead soldiers in World War II-era gear, with a detailed character in modern military gear. Compare the juxtaposition of a World War era tank leaking animal organs with the futuristic incubators and high-tech handcuffs worn by Sam and Del Toro's unnamed character, in addition to the wrecked personnel carrier, robotic motion detectors, and protective hazmat gear worn by Sam and his allies in the third trailer.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Sam's awakening naked in the fetal position borrows imagery from how characters time travel from the future into the past in the Terminator franchise.
    • The game is inspired by The Rope novel by Kōbō Abe; "The first tool created by humans was a stick, meant as protection by putting a distance between oneself and "bad things", and that the second was a rope, used to secure things one finds important."
    • The dead sea creatures with umbilical cords attached to them alludes to Gyo.
  • Silence Is Golden: The first two trailers feature no dialogue at all, and the third one features very little.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the cancelled Silent Hills and its demo P.T. Both deal with Surrealism and fatherhood, and both feature a main character modeled after Norman Reedus.
  • Surreal Horror: At the very least.
  • Tank Goodness: The trailer from the Game Awards 2016 showed a M10 tank destroyer moving along with a group of soldiers. Contrary to the trope name, however, it's covered in guts and bones, and is clearly not on your side.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The second trailer ends with Mikkelsen's character smiling, pointing, and holding a figure to his lips in a "shush" gesture while staring directly into the camera.
  • Unstoppable Mailman: It seems like being this is the job of both Sam and Lea Seydoux's character. Sam seems to transport machines and what looks like dead bodies. Lea Seydoux transports fragile objects according to the company on her suit being called Fragile Express.
  • Uterine Replicator: The baby is being carried in some sort of advanced capsule.
  • Weird Weather: From the 2017 Game Awards trailer, a supernatural rain that causes anything it touches to rapidly age.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Like the last game that Hideo Kojima directed, the game takes advantage of this feature.

Once, there was an explosion. A bang which gave rise to life as we know it.
And then came the next explosion.
An explosion that will be our last.

Example of: