We all know that Hideo Kojima likes to play coy and tease fans with intricate mysteries, never fully revealing the myriad twists and turns he has in store until a game is out in the wild. But it's been a solid year and a half since Death Stranding was first announced, and we know almost nothing about it. Finally Kojima has shared some of the first actual, solid details of how the game will play with IGN, and it matches well with the sort of eclectic design Kojima's games are known for.
First, let's rewatch the trailer, because much of what Kojima talked about with IGN references it:
So first, let's address why the trailer opens with plants dying and why later, one of the three men starts rapidly aging. Kojima told IGN this is because of the rain, which comes from another world. It's called "Timefall," and does exactly what you think: causes things it comes in contact with to rapidly accelerate through time. "Most people in the game are aware of the rain - and well, Norman [Reedus' character Sam] is quite unique in this regard," Kojima said.
Well, that was... still pretty vague, but at least this aspect of the Death Stranding world has a name, and we know what it does and who it does and doesn't affect.
The real juicy bit comes in relation to what happens when a flash of bright light explodes from the... head(?) of the enormous creature that abducts another of Sam's colleagues. Immediately after the screen becomes enveloped in white, we see Sam floating through water before the camera zooms down his throat and shows us all that can't-unsee image of a happy baby in his... I guess stomach? Anyway, it was revealed during the PSX 2017 opening ceremony that the underwater section is playable. And now, Kojima has elaborated.
"At that point, you’re not dead or alive. It’s the equivalent of that screen that says ‘Continue?’ and a counter ticking down towards zero," Kojima said."So as you saw in the trailer, you saw the crater, and when you come back, it’s still there. Most games would’ve taken you back to before the crater was made. So depending on the player, you might have a lot of craters all over the place - it depends on each player."
I know the obvious comparison here is Dark Souls since in that series you run back to your body to recover your souls, but it actually makes me think of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver a bit more. When you die in Dark Souls, you just come back to life immediately. In Soul Reaver, you're transported to the spirit realm, a warped version of the physical realm. Everything you've done in the physical world still happens, but you have to regain your strength to resurrect yourself and continue on.
It's a bit of a heady concept, but Kojima summed it up simply: "Death will never pull you out of the game".
And there you have it: two years after Kojima Productions broke away from Konami and reformed as an independent studio, we finally have some idea of how Death Stranding will actually play. Now if someone could just explain that baby...