My Very In Depth, "Death Stranding" Analysis and Thoughts

  • I thought about Hideo Kojima's trailer all day. I've seen posts about people think, the metaphors, and I feel like I have, at the very least, my own interpretation of this trailer. But I am fairly confident that it makes sense to me. That being said, it does make me feel such an insane mix of emotions.

    The Dead Marine Life
    Death Stranding, stranding is a phenomenon in which whales strand themselves on land, they often die due to dehydration, collapsing under their own weight, or drowning when high tide covers the blowhole. Scientists not sure why they do it. You can see it coming, its probably accidental, but it might also be intentional. They are killing themselves on purpose.

    With this in mind, it seems very likely that the dead marine life could be a metaphor for Konami's decision to kill off their games. I'm torn on saying their games, or their games division, as I think the wording here is important. For now I'm keeping it as just "their games". I've seen a few suggestions that its the "whales" who spent money on Konami games, but it doesn't follow through, as those gamers aren't dead. The only thing lost with the Konami situation was games. Hence, those games were "whales" for Konami in the topic of profit. Smaller fish being smaller games.

    The dead marine life gives context for the other things happening in the trailer.

    The Baby and Umbilical Cord
    Hand prints in the sand to where Norman is laying down. He crawled to get to where he is laying. He wakes up, with a black cord attaching him to a baby and a handcuff on one arm.

    The Baby could be Metal Gear, but doesn't make sense. Metal Gear grew up and became something. We saw what it turned it into. The only real option here is that the baby is PT. It's attached to him with an umbilical cord, implying that its his, and the scars later on also imply this. When he wakes up, the baby is already dead. He's crying while embracing it.

    Hideo Kojima was never able to see what PT would become, but it was precious to him.

    The Baby Disappearing
    The baby vanishes, and he's only left with the black ooze on his hands. He's never even given time to mourn. Black ooze appears in hand prints walking down his leg, and then off in the distance. I think this is the legacy of PT. No one can see the game, but we can see the trail that it is leaving behind it.

    In a very weird way, that trail is still being paved. Walking down Norman Reedus's character, because PT's legacy sort of fell from Kojima. The hand prints we see in the sand, is that legacy. The entire genre of horror in gaming completely turned on its head with that one demo.

    5 Figures in the Sky
    As soon as the PT Baby vanishes, Norman's character stands up and looks to the distance with anger and determination. The 5 figures are a metaphor for the actual people who decided to kill PT. The figures and Norman Reedus sort of ignore the dead marine life, and at this point, the "games" of konami are not relevant to Kojima.

    Even further, the depiction of them in the sky could be Kojima describing them as inhuman. They're vague black figures that are probably human, but you can't really be sure. Floating implies that they are above him, as well as standing "over" the dead marine life/Konami games. Being a distance away from Kojima and those games is also a fairly obvious part of the metaphor here.

    The handcuffs represent Kojima being free from something. He has the ability to use both arms, but he still feels the weight, the memory, of that bondage. The handcuffs could partially represent the Metal Gear Solid franchise. A series that has a black color scheme. I like the way it represents the series formally shackling him, but it's still partially with him. The cuffs are advanced and even elegant. The baby can grow into anything, and the contrast between the two is striking.

    Handprints on Norman Reedus body
    Handprints all over him could represent all of the people who have been touching him around the time of PT and before. People who were moving him, controlling him, or even people who were helping him. But they aren't here anymore. He's alone. This makes the next part pretty badass.

    Necklace of USB Drives
    Hideo Kojima, as depicted in this video, is naked. He was stripped of PT, and feels angry. The only thing he has is a necklace of USB Drives. These represent memory, his creativity and the ideas inside of him are the most powerful thing that Hideo Kojima has.

    Low Roar, I'll Keep Coming (YouTube Link)
    After listening to these lyrics, Hideo Kojima is a Master. The feel of the song, the pacing, the build up. I could go on. The lyrics are below, but listen to the song again. I'm guessing here. He feels lost, but he'll come around soon. People are waiting for him to speak, he's seen but never heard. He's been buried underground. But despite all of that, he's going to keep coming. The pure determination is palpable in this video.

    Faintly I'll go
    To take this head on

    Soon I'll come around
    Lost and never found
    Waiting for my words
    Seen but never heard
    Buried underground
    But I'll keep coming

    Wipe those tears off
    And make your heart proud

    Soon I'll come around
    Lost and never found
    Waiting for my words
    Seen but never heard
    Buried underground
    But I'll keep coming

    I'll keep coming

    Thanks for reading, if you cared or enjoyed something this long. I typically don't write these things out or share them. Maybe this is all ridiculous and I'm a moron. Let me know!

  • I'm so interested to see how other people perceived this trailer. I really love the way you saw it and the amount of depth and thought you put into your speculation. I totally did not pick up on all the hints that it could have towards the Konami situation. You are in no way a moron, that whole read was pretty crazy.

    Im going to preffice this by saying that i have not seen any ither speculation on this trailer, so my theories might not be new and that this might be redundant. I hope not, because I have put many hours of thought into THIS AMAZING/BEAUTIFUL/EMOTIONAL trailer and would love a discussion about it. The way I saw it seemed to be more about raising questions for what the story is and how the character got there. It seemed to me that it leans heavily on the "stranding" part of the title, as mentioned by Ian, that scientifically there has been no concrete evidence as to why the whales do it. This seems to make the trailer question why the character is on this beach as well, that are brought up by the few things you did as well. All of the objects in the trailer could be perceived as objects or events that caused him to be in the situation he is.

    The Handcuffs/Law
    This gives me the impression that he possibly ended up stranded because of the law. He might have been exiled due to something he had done in his past that cannot be forgotten, or that someone in power has put him there to test him/put him in his place.

    The baby/family
    This one seems to be the clearest reason, because it is his strongest emotional reaction in the trailer (he otherwise is slightly surprised by the oil, and slightly curious about his whereabouts) and also because it ties in perfectly with a few other points. The only clear example that could come from this is possibly that he came here either to look for his family (which would explain his happiness of finding his baby on the beach) or because of family (such as someone hold family hostage so he willingly stranded himself).

    The handprints/Influenced Stranding
    This one seems like the least plausible reason for his stranding, as the example is the most obvious. It seems like it implies that he was just pushed to go to the island, most likely by someone of power, which ties into the oil and the Handcuffs. It shows that he might have not had a choice and that the decision or influence was made by someone else.

    The oil/Money and power
    This one also seems very likely as it plays with all of the other themes, especially the baby. Oil is synonymous with money and power, which could no doubt be a reason for betrayal and distrust. Having the oil appears on his hands might indicate that his hands are dirtied by money, or that it all ended up in his hands from someone else. HOW IT TIES INTO OTHER THEMES. The baby is replaced by the oil during the characters sudden realization. This could mean that his family was taken away because of money, or because he needed to pay back the people who stole them from him. This also plays in perfectly with the scar on his stomach as it implies that something was taken out of him. This is followed by the baby hands going down his leg, implying that his family now has a part in the money/power, and that they are getting farther away from him. This ties into the fact that something from him is missing (such as familial love) or that something was takrn him from him, leaving him scarred.

    The five bodies/??!?!?!?!
    Honestly I've speculated and thought about this trailer for hours and i cannot give you any speculation for what this is about. IT SURE IS A HELL OF A GOOD SHOT and man is it hype, but I just couldn't rack my brain around it. Possibly its the people in power that sent him to be stranded/his stranding, and that they now watch over him in exile. It seems like it could be a concrete theory, but all I think of is MAN THAT WAS SO COOL.

    Honestly thank you for the conversation and speculation. Ive wanted to talk about this so bad and who else to talk to than the Allies <3 i loved your speculation and I'd love to theorize more with all of you.

    Love and respect <3

  • Very deep :) I love these sorts of analyses.

    The whole teaser really felt more like an art piece than an actual trailer for a game. The scenes really do seem to convey emotions of heartbreak, disappointment and new beginnings. The unshackling from Konami must have been a very emotional process for him. Seeing him promote Phantom Pain on Twitter when it came out whilst knowing that he is on the way out and leaving his baby behind must have been very difficult for him.

    @Stormcrownn, thanks for putting this together ;)

  • Anyone with some thoughts about the dog tag equations?

    The Schwarzschild radius (sometimes historically referred to as the gravitational radius) is the radius of a sphere such that, if all the mass of an object were to be compressed within that sphere, the escape velocity from the surface of the sphere would equal the speed of light.

    In particle physics, the Dirac equation is a relativistic wave equation derived by British physicist Paul Dirac in 1928. In its free form, or including electromagnetic interactions, it describes all spin-1⁄2 massive particles such as electrons and quarks, for which parity is a symmetry, and is consistent with both the principles of quantum mechanics and the theory of special relativity, and was the first theory to account fully for special relativity in the context of quantum mechanics.
    The equation also implied the existence of a new form of matter, antimatter, previously unsuspected and unobserved and which was experimentally confirmed several years later.

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  • Here's my interpretation.(sorry for my Eng.)

    Figures in the sky
    They're god-like being who comes to punish human for their sin?

    Probably the person who was handcuffed to Reedus. Probably someone who's dear to him(maybe his wife). The baby used to be fully grown adult but for some reason turned into baby(probably as a punishment to failed the test of those mysterious figures)

    Probably a form of test/punishment for every human being. Put on by mysterious being.

    Invisible oil entity
    Human who failed the test turned into oil-like ghost and have to return to ocean and begin evolution all over again.

    Dead marine life
    Dead marine life is the aftermath of human sins. as ocean become more and more polluted due to oil-like ghost
    Is a metaphor for our disregard of environment.

  • Will post here some more info that I found interesting:

    Related to William Blake - Auguries of Innocence (

    alt text

    The poet proffers the argument that the natural world can be regenerated in time and that nature itself can be an augury to the lost vision of innocence. The phrasing of the title is the strongest example of this theme, for here, the word “innocence” signifies man in the unfallen state.
    The first quatrain is where this theme of seeing the world through different means is set forth. The infinite (“Heaven”) can be seen through something that is not human, but still life (“through a Wildflower”). This “wildflower” is a symbol for free love.
    Heaven is seen though love, the world is seen through the intellect, and the imagination is that which bridges the two. In the same sense, that which is not life nor human, the dehumanized world, is capable of revealing “infinity.” It may be worth noting the famous Blake line from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern."

    Kojima Interview (

    "There's a Japanese author I am a huge fan of called Kobo Abe. He has a short novel called 'Rope' in which he makes a definition, a statement: the first tool mankind made was a stick. It was made toto keep away bad things. It's a weapon.
    "The next tool created by mankind was rope. The rope is not to keep away bad things. On the contrary, it's a tool used to keep good things close to you, to tie good things close to you. Sticks and ropes are some of the tools most used by mankind even these days.
    "In most games you see that are online multiplayer or co-op - or even single player - the communication is through sticks. In this game you will be able to use what will be the equivalent of sticks. But I also want people to use what will be the equivalent of ropes."

  • @crimilde Kojima walked faster than the light bridge...

    On my way to work, I'll give this some serious thought.

  • @marcel also, the very Kojima thing is that my own perception doesn't clash with any theory about the game.

    He very well could have both metaphors apply to the game, and Konami at the same time.

    Like a boss.

  • While I really enjoy this kind of discussions, I would not dare to predict what Kojima really wanted to tell with that trailer. The guy is a genius and I can't even attempt to understand. I would not be surprised if the final game featured unicorns on
    fire and a lying whale... Oh, wait. He did that already. Well, you know what I mean.

  • @Nillend but it's damn fun, join us :)

  • @Stormcrownn But I lack the imagination :(

  • I would love that Kojima sticks to what he is good at and make linear games because I really think MGS V could have been a much better game if it followed in the same footsteps as the previous entries.

    Other than that I would love for the game to be focused on horror because i really feel we are lacking well made horror titles

  • @crimilde I'm really struggling to come up something other than Kojima walking faster than the light stairs was not accidental. He timed it exactly how he wanted.

    The message being that nothing can stop him, he'll keep coming, etc. This almost makes me feel more confident about my metaphor of him being the Norman reed's character.

  • Whenever I try to speculate I always end up over analyzing and the product is much simpler in the end. I am still working on my interpretation but this teaser we saw isn't even going to be in the final game which make me skeptical.

  • @SIX2SE7EN This is a pretty good point. I agree that this teaser will not be directly related to the game. We'll get a trailer in a few years and have it explained.

  • Hah, finally back at home from work and can post my more in-depth thoughts on this.

    The William Blake poem tied in might signify that Norman has been reborn. He is in his "innocent" state, Adam before eating the apple, if you wish, untainted, naked (as the day you were born is the saying), waking up in a somewhat fetal position on the beach. A new beginning, a new chance, a clean slate for him.

    This is also tied in to the fact that the baby is there, maybe a symbol of his rebirth as well (or a symbol of the taint that was inside of him / removed from him). The cross scar on Norman's abdomen and the fact that the foetus is tied with an umbilical cord-like wire to him might suggest that the baby was a part of him. When he touches it it disappears and it's oil that's left behind, suggesting that what seemed like innocent at first was in fact corrupted and spoiled. He's crying in relief I think because it was a part of him that he had lost, or that had been (forcefully) removed.

    The poem meaning that the natural world can be regenerated in time, when free of the humans' corruption (since once we touch anything we "spoil it"), combined with the beached whales and generally dead marine life all around, and the oily prints, might indicate that the newly born, innocent Norman has woken up in (a mirror of) a world devastated by human interference, to the brink of destruction really.

    The desolation of the island and the fact that he's the only living creature on the beach, again tied to the Blake poem might indicate that he's actually somewhere different / in this dehumanized word capable of revealing infinity.

    Now, what infinity means, I guess we can kind of extrapolate through the 5 figures in the sky. Infinity (Heaven) is revealed by the dehumanized world, like the 5 figures are revealed in the sky after the foetus' disappearance. Norman himself has 6 tokens (keys?) around his neck, suggesting that he is / might come to be the 6th matching figure and holds the keys to fully reveal the other 5.

    On to the 6 "keys", we can see two equations on them. The Dirac equation is the most interesting one, because first it stipulates that parity is symmetry for particles (6 is an even number, so Norman and the 5 figures are / should become symmetrical). Secondly, it implies the existence of antimatter. Antimatter is composed of the antiparticles of those making up normal matter. So if the dehumanized world is normal matter, Norman and the 5 figures would be the equivalent of antimatter. Tainted world vs innocence, maybe?

    Tying into what Kojima said about Kobo Abe, the sticks and ropes, we can see that all the dead creatures and the tainted baby have wires attached to them, so they are important things, things that we need to keep close but instead managed to destroy. The destroying presence is represented by the oily handprints, and Norman himself is covered in scar-like handprints on his shoulders and back, scars that are healed but might be further suggestion to his newly acquired innocent state.

    The handcuffs are a remnant of his previous experiences, and also a kind of rope. Maybe they were used for him to keep someone close, or for someone to keep him close.

    Okay that's about it. Sorry if some of the stuff doesn't make any sense, I'm tired. :grin:

    So yeah, it might be a metaphor of his life, or a completely different thing. I'm still very confused about it all.

  • Those people floating in the sky gave me chills, so ominous and foreboding, although they don't really do anything it felt like it represented an evil force. All the stranded fish gave me the impression that whatever force is out there, it's so fearsome the fish would rather die than face it.

  • @crimilde Definitely still thinking on the stuff you've said. Just to keep my original metaphor going about Konami. Kojima started working there when he was 17, and he is in his 50s now. However much people like to sort of dismiss Konami these days, it literally was his life. So to me, its definitely an angle worth exploring.

    I did write this while working, so it may be a bit jumbled. Going to edit it later tonight.

    Your thoughts on the baby make me a little more confident that Kojima was probably working on PT-PT Related things for a while, which matches the MSGV timeline as well. I believe it could mean enough to be represented like it is. The handcuffs definitely feel like Metal Gear Solid, and what that series is to him right now. They are seperate from those 5 figures, but at the same time, they hold him back in some ways.

    The poem, when describing the world itself, makes sense to me if the marine life represents the gaming industry. Human's corruption ruin the ecosystem. Without that corruption, the industry can be regenerated.

    For the desolution in the island, I need to rewatch it, but do we ever see a camera angle showing anything behind Norman Reedus? I could see there being meaning there.

    The equation is one where I'm not sure how deeply he would have consciously thought. It could be a simply metaphor for him being the opposite of those figures.

    I'll definitely think on this more, I have to get back to work!

  • @crimilde Something I saw earlier is that perhaps the equations have something to do with the Technological Singularity.

  • Banned

    Good write up. I agree with you. Those 5 people in the sky 100% represent Konami. They're in business suits and and watching Reedus (Kojima) and stole his baby (Silent Hills).