Death Stranding made a big, if mysterious, impression when it was shown in 2016, and the game's new trailer at Sony's press conference has shed a little more light (we think) on the game.
Meet Sam Porter Bridges
He's a delivery man (Porter. Get it?). On foot. Shlepping containers (even what looks like a dead/suspended body) across great distances and stunning landscapes, Bridges endures great hardships as he scales mountains, almost drowns, and has to peel off one of his toe nails – the usual occupational hazards.
Surely this is part of your moment-to-moment gameplay. If we know Kojima, we can expect this otherwise mundane-sounding loop to surely contain some resource management gameplay or clever survival elements. At times he has an anti-gravity sled that lightens the load. We sure hope you earn this early on.
At one point it looks like he has a larger vehicle carrying cargo which ends up sliding over a cliff. That sucks.
Invisible Enemies Are Never Any Fun
Sam can sense when powerful invisible, levitating netherworld black shadows are near. Shadows that are brought on by the rain. He knows when they're near, but they don't seem to be able to always see him, triggering stealth gameplay. There are also invisible beings that produce animal-like footprints (and which can be avoided by keeping silent), but it's unclear if these are the same as the levitating shadows.
Bridges' delivery suit has a mounted projection peripheral that makes the shadow beings somewhat visible (he also brandishes a rifle at a different point in the trailer). Get caught and it produces a voidout, which Sam can come back from, but to the detriment of the world as a whole.
That Baby Sure is Creepy, But Useful
Coming back from a voidout is where the game's signature fetus perhaps comes into play.
Plugging in his fetus suspended in fluid (like a Kojima-brand Baby Bjorn), Sam tries to get by the shadow beings levitating in the rain. His mounted projection peripheral makes the shadows visible, but maybe it's the fetus that actually saves him. Despite Sam's resurrection, I bet there's a cost to getting sucked into the void, like losing resources or whatever you're delivering. Maybe this accounts for Sam appearing half-naked from time to time.
Time And Again
The past and the future are not disparate concepts in the game, whether that's Sam looking wistfully at a photo from long ago or the fact that he can come back from the dead after a voidout. Sam's sometimes companion (who seems to appear out of thin air!) played by actress Léa Seydoux eats maggots called crypto-bites (we think), which she says "keep the timefall away." The timefall "fast-forwards" whatever it touches. The rain associated with the shadow beings and voidout is also related to timefall. Do you lose a measure of time during a voidout?
The end of the trailer shows actress Lindsay Wagner, who looks younger than in the photo that Sam pines over earlier in the trailer. Is she a figment of Sam's imagination, an integral part of the timefall concept, proof that time is entirely fluid in the game, or all of the above?
Death Stranding's E3 2018 was vintage Kojima – posing intriguing questions, and was more substance than just form. The game is definitely coming along from its mysterious beginnings, and is proving to be more than just a free-form dream.