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Death Stranding sleuths decode hidden musical message in E3 trailer

Kojima did it again

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Death Stranding - Lindsay Wagner’s character Kojima Productions/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

Hidden messages and cryptic imagery are not unfamiliar when it comes to Hideo Kojima’s games. The previous Death Stranding trailer had fans analyzing every last detail and coming up with theories. For instance, the strand of numbers along Norman Reedus’ character’s suit is thought by some fans to correspond to a controversial Biblical verse.

But one of the mini-trailers for Death Stranding that was sliced from the longer trailer shown at Sony’s E3 press conference — the reveal of Lindsay Wagner’s character — and the subsequent character poster that Sony released has stirred up a particularly complex hidden message analysis.

To make sense of it, first we need to take a closer look at the particular poster.

Death Stranding - Lindsay Wagner character poster Kojima Productions/Sony Interactive Entertainment

At first glance, it is pretty unassuming. But a Russian Twitter user noticed that there might be something more going on with the necklace that Wagner’s character is wearing.

It turns out that the necklace that Wagner’s character is wearing resembles an ancient method of communication and recording known as quipu. Though commonly associated with ancient civilizations of the Andes, this way of conveying information through knot-tying is also seen among the ancient Chinese and native Hawaiians.

Coincidentally — or perhaps not — Kojima tweeted about quipu back in November 2017:

If you want a closer analysis of the necklace, an image depicting the translation of the code has been circulating online, though it’s not clear where it originated:

Death Stranding - translation of quipu on necklace worn by Lindsay Wagner’s character

The quipu code ends up being a melody to a song called “Give Me An Answer” by the Icelandic band Low Roar. The song was released almost a year ago.

The music video features a group of three people who go to a shady motel and draw straws, while another person waits outside by the car. Over the course of the night, the people in the motel each enter the bathroom, encountering an ominous-looking device. As they each approach it, lights flash, and the people outside look tormented. Daylight comes and only one person leaves the motel to join the man by the car, and they drive off.


Low Roar has been associated with Death Stranding since Kojima used a Low Roar song in the game’s E3 2016 trailer. According to Rolling Stone, Kojima discovered Low Roar’s music in a Reykjavik record store and then picked the band to soundtrack the game. There’s even an official Death Stranding-themed vinyl record from Kojima Productions and Mondo that features two Low Roar songs that were used in trailers. Later in 2016, Kojima shared a signed album picture on Twitter, where “Let me write more music for you!” is written.

When the music video for “Give Me An Answer” was released back in July 2017, director Dylan Marko Bell told Paper Mag that Death Stranding heavily inspired the music video.

“Knowing about the band’s past made me think it would be fun to create a world where certain fans could physically enter the game Death Stranding before it came out,” Marko Bell said to Paper.

Threads about this video being linked to the game popped up 10 months ago, but now that it’s “official” (well, as official as a hidden cipher in a necklace featured in a poster), it might be time to revisit any theories surrounding this video and its creepy symbolism as well.

While there are many theories and mysteries surrounding Death Stranding, there’s still one big thing that evades us: a release date.

Update: While Quipu was commonly thought on Reddit to be the solution to the cypher, it turns out that the Russian Twitter user who solved the code did so by lining up the necklaces beads to a music box grid.

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