Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding Trailer Breakdown
By Alex Newhouse on
A New Game From Hideo Kojima
Death Stranding is a Kojima game, so it's automatically a huge deal. It's an even bigger deal that Kojima announced this while providing little indication at all that his company had even decided on a game engine, let alone even built a trailer. But here we are. Death Stranding is real, it's haunting, and it looks awesome. In this gallery we break down the trailer to try to highlight some of the mysteries and secrets that hide within.
The Opening Screen: A Blake Poem
It's clearly important that the video starts with a William Blake poem, but it's a mystery what the significance actually is. The opening stanza of "Auguries of Innocence" lauds the ability to find transcendent experiences in commonplace and limited things: it's glorious to be able to "see the world in a grain of sand," to find understanding and awareness of the greater universe from a mere speck of mineral. But placed in the context of the trailer, this poem takes on a more ominous meaning. The main character holds, then loses, a baby. If the baby is analogous to a speck of sand, then it might mean that the loss of the baby represents the loss of awareness and understanding.
The trailer pans across a field of skeletons, animals long dead that have been buried in and worn by the sand. Notice also the way that some of the letters' "ink" is running--this is a recurring text effect in the trailer and showed up on Kojima's t-shirt teasing Death Stranding.
More Dead Animals
Here we see dead crabs, still half-buried in the sand. These, however, don't look like they've been dead that long. They're not rotten, and you can still see lines in the sand which look like the marks that crab legs would make when dragged through it. You can also see strange marks and spirals on the belly of the crab. These might be nothing more than natural marks of wear and tear, but considering the patterns on dead animals later in the trailer, it's feasible that these are artificial, too.
The Black Handprints
These handprints show up throughout the trailer and eerily approach the main character. There is no obvious agent causing them to appear, although they do quickly fill with black ink. This same black ink appears on the man's hands after he loses the baby.
Handcuffs and a Wired Baby
There's a lot to note in this image. First of all, we see the man and the baby for the first time. You can see handprints on the man's arms, indicating that the mysterious agent of the approaching handprints has already marked him. He's also handcuffed, and the handcuff is not a normal, metal-latched cuff. It uses some sort of force, electric or otherwise, that glows blue. Because it's only on one wrist, it suggests that the man was handcuffed to someone, but probably not the baby.
The noteworthy part of the baby is the heavy black cord snaking away from the infant. It's clearly not natural, and looks more like a wire than an umbilical cord, although its blackness could be a result of black ink running through it.
The Hands Encircle Him
The black hands have encircled the man's kneeling form as he clasps the baby. You can see the handprints on his back more clearly now.
A Mysterious Necklace and a Tattoo
Notice that tattoo on his right arm? It looks like a winged creature of some sort, although the wing is more skeletal and edged than any sort of animal. He's also wearing a necklace of what look like nondescript metal weights, although they vaguely resemble padlocks.
This is the moment, too, when the man looks down at his hands and realizes that he's lost the baby.
That Weird Black Ink
This is what the baby appears to have dissolved into. That black ink that was filling the handprints on the beach is now covering his hands. The symbolism is pretty obvious here--the darkness has consumed the baby, and he's left with black hands potentially to indicate his own culpability. But the black is unearthly. It's too deep, too glossy. It doesn't seem of this world.
Small, Infant Handprints
This seems to all but confirm that the baby has been consumed: little handprints, moving away from him. They're clearly different than the handprints that were tracking the man, so the appearance of these prints where the baby was suggest that the infant is perhaps now one of these invisible creatures.
A Cross-Shaped Scar
The man has had some sort of operation done on him. The scar is old and it is far too uniform to be accidental. Something was done to him, likely to insert something within his abdomen. It is significant that it's a cross, too. Beyond the obvious religious imagery, a cross has significance as a symbol of power and identity.
A View of the Sea
This is by far the most interesting image. When the trailer pans around, you see the beach and the ocean. Stranded (note the title of the game) on the beach are countless dead animals, from small fish to large whales. You can see, too, that there are five undefined figures floating in the sky, in a perfectly straight line. These seem to be watching the man. Also of note is how these figures are framed by the sun shining behind them--it's evocative of representations of the divine.
A Scarred Whale and a House on a Rock
If you look closely at the beach scene, you'll see that the dead whales are covered in spiraling, zig-zagging scars. They look deliberate and possibly are patterns. In addition, you'll see that each of these dead animals has a cord, much like the baby's umbilical cord, snaking from its body. All of these are black. Perhaps these cords are draining animals of blood or life essence?
You can also see a bit of red, glowing ground that looks like lava. This is really the only non-cool color in the entire trailer; everything else is a shade of gray, blue, or black. It's really hard to tell what this means, but it adds to the unnatural feel of the trailer.
On the very top sea tower in the background, you'll see a blocky shape. This looks set back from the very edge of the rock it sits upon, and more uniformly blocky than the rock, so it might actually be a building. However, it is too far away to make out clearly.
A Title Screen
The reveal trailer for Death Stranding is bizarre, haunting, and full of mysteries. There are a lot of different pieces of this short trailer that aren't explained but suggest that the game's world is facing a cataclysm from some unnatural force. It's also got a lot of symbolism that will undoubtedly be important in the main game, but for now we can only guess as to their significance. But this game is incredibly exciting, and we're looking forward to seeing more of it in the coming months.