Part of the fun of Death Stranding is how inscrutable it is. By that measure, its new trailer, a Game Awards 2017-exclusive cinematic featuring Norman Reedus, a baby, some alien creatures and a bunch of other nonsensicalities, was the most fun one yet.
Inexplicable as the footage seemed, fans of director Hideo Kojima’s previous work are dedicated to sussing out as much as they can from it. From figuring out who that masked villain was to spotting a possible Kojima cameo, these are the latest Death Stranding theories and clues dug up from last night’s trailer.
0914-137: a disturbing biblical reference
A small detail not everyone picked up on from the trailer is the series of numbers on Norman Reedus’ character’s suit. Written across the right side are seven numbers: 0914-137.
Although this could just be an identifying callsign or some other superfluous details, fans know better than to wave off even the small things. The resounding theory on Reddit is that these numbers are a reference to the Bible. The ninth verse of Psalm 137, one of the more frequently cited passages, ends like this: “Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock.”
This is a controversial verse, considering its horrific implication. But fans see an immediate connection to Death Stranding. The little one could be the baby that Sam, Reedus’ character, is often seen with. So could this mean that Sam is actually not the hero, but a villain?
The baby is a clone — and the key to life
What’s the deal with the baby, anyway? We saw it attached to Sam in the very first Death Stranding teaser, but the little guy got much more screen time in what we saw during The Game Awards 2017. There’s clearly a deep, physical connection between Sam and the baby. Just take a look at this image for proof:
There’s a lot to unpack here, although we may not yet have the tools to do so. But there’s one theory posed on Reddit that is resonating with several would-be Death Stranding scholars.
“The babies are clones of the people carrying them,” posits user lsofyr. “The Corpse disposal guy in the trailer activates his baby who gets all his memories from that point, then throws the baby to [Sam] and kills himself.”
From then on, Sam is tasked with carrying around the baby, the theory goes. He does that by attaching the baby directly to — and sometimes inside of — his body. Reedus must keep the baby safe on the behalf of his fallen teammate, protecting it until it’s ready to be dowsed in the black goo that seems to age people at high-speed.
That part of the theory is taken from one of the trailer’s most ominous moments, as lsofyr suggests.
“The guy who was crushed had his spare baby crushed and the black aging goo spilled out,” they wrote. “That's why he aged so much.”
Babies serving as both clones of their “parents” and physical representations of the tenuousness of mortality makes a lot of sense based on what we’ve seen thus far. It also tracks with Kojima’s Twitter hint from last night, when he told fans that there’s another clue to be found by rewatching the previous two trailers.
Wait ... is that Kojima?
A Redditor with a good eye noticed that at the four-minute, 20-second mark, there’s an ooze-covered head coming out of the water. Whoever that head belongs to, he’s got glasses on. You know who else wears glasses?
It’s such a quick thing that it’s hard to say if that’s just an assumption or a reasoned guess. The thing is, Kojima isn’t a stranger to inserting himself into his work. He’s made cameos in almost all of the Metal Gear Solid games, from Metal Gear Solid to his final act, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.
Maybe we did see more Mads, after all
Co-star Mads Mikkelsen was conspicuously absent from this year’s new Death Stranding trailer. That’s a shame for all of us who are mad for Mads (I can’t help myself) — but maybe the Danish actor did appear after all.
This theory, again from Reddit, is that the hooded figure who floats down to intimidate Sam and the rest of his team is actually Mads Mikkelsen’s character. Fans are postulating this based solely on the character’s body type, which does bear a slight resemblance to what Mikkelsen looked like the last time we saw him in-game, during last year’s Game Awards.
“When I saw him I was 100 percent positive that was Mads,” wrote user Airaku of the strange figure. “It has to be. The body shape fits, and I always had a theory that Mads could float and had psychic-like abilities. If you watch the last trailer you can see his compass spin out of control when he's raising the dead. That's due to an influx of electro-magnetic energy.”
Could this be the connection to the previous trailers that Kojima hinted at? According to other Redditors, the figure and Mads’ character perform identical gestures at the same timestamp in both the 2016 and 2017 Game Awards trailers. (That’s around the 3:50 mark.) Curious, indeed.
There are certainly more things we’ll continue to pick up on or think about in the weeks and months to come. Meanwhile, Death Stranding is bound for PlayStation 4 ... one day.