Hideo Kojima. The man. The myth. The legend. The mind behind the greatest video game franchise of all time: Metal Gear Solid… or so I’m told. Other than Metal Gear Solid 5, I’ve never been particularly big on the Metal Gear franchise, but I love a good mystery and for the last year, Kojima has been leaving clues to help us solve the greatest mystery of all, what is Death Stranding? Many have tried to answer the question but I feel that the Kotakus and Polygons of the world are too close to the sink to see the water, or whatever the phrase is. As a non Metal Gear fan, I feel that I, Chris Williams, has the fresh eyes required to discover the truth about the PS4… maybe 5, probably 5, exclusive.
I’m sure many have looked up what the word death is referring to and have tried to use that information to connect the dots, or tried to decipher the numbers that are on Norman Reedus’ jacket, but as far as I’m concerned, everyone is trying way too hard. The meaning behind this is as clear as crystal. Death Stranding is about Kojima’s troubled relationship with his former employer Konami and how that’s effected his beloved franchise Metal Gear Solid. Don’t believe me? Get ready to have your minds blown.
One of the very first images we ever saw from Death Stranding was Norman Reedus lying naked on a beach, but what if I told you that Norman Reedus’s character is actually a virtual representation of Kojima himself? If we consider Reedus to be Kojima, then handcuffs make so much more sense. Waking up from the terrible reality that Kojima dealt with over at Konami, Kojima finds himself “unbound” from the creative constraints he once found himself in.
After waking, Reedus sees a baby crying on the beach. He picks the baby up and holds it tight. Reedus holds the infant with such passion that the scene doesn’t just suggest, but in fact is telling you there’s a deep connection between Reedus and this baby. What does the baby represent? Could it be something as simple as an actual child? No! It represents the creative works of Kojima. This baby, in particular, represents Metal Gear 5.
When we take a closer look at Reedus, not only is he naked but he’s also covered in hand prints. This obviously represents the fact that the Konami executives refused to let Kojima work on his master piece on his own. They constantly put their “dirty hands” on his work. Eventually though, the baby disappears, and what do we see next?
Floating, off in the distance, 5 figures… 5 figures that all represent the 5 Metal Gear games. Standing there naked, with nothing left to give, Kojima’s virtual representation looks out at the them but because they are so far away, he can’t interact with them. We see this image again but this time with a clothed Reedus.
Even with tears still streaming down his face, I believe that the clothed character now represents that Kojima no longer feels as vulnerable as he once did when he thinks about his previous works of art. Yes, he’s still sad that his works of art or his “children” are so far away, but no longer is he left sobbing because of what happened. Even the “thumbs up” that we see from the baby inside of Reedus’ mouth (yep), I believe, is yet another sign that Kojima is telling fans that everything is going to be okay.
What does this baby represent? As I stated earlier, the first baby seen represented Metal Gear Solid 5 and this “mouth baby” represents Death Stranding, hence the thumbs up. Kojima is in full control with Death Stranding and nothing can get to it. The beach baby and the mouth baby aren’t the only babies we’ve seen though. So what do the other babies represent?
Many have wondered what famous director Guillermo del Toro has to do with the story. Well, what if I told you that the man in the suit represents Konami? If we look at del Toro’s forehead, we can see that there’s been a surgical procedure on the man in the suit’s brain. Does this suggest that he has brain damage? Was there an accident? Has someone gone in and altered his brain so that he’ll act differently? Well, people have been left dumbfounded by Konami’s decisions over the last few years and maybe this is a sly way of trying to say that even Kojima is lost at the company’s decisions. What about the baby in the jar though? I believe this jar baby represents The Metal Gear franchise as a whole.
If we compare the first two pictures, we can see that the jar baby is winking in one and in the other picture we see that the doll in the water is also winking as it stops at the feet of Mads Mikkelsen and the other soldiers. So what does all of this mean? Well, Mads and the soldiers surrounding him represent the Internet and the fans of Kojima’s, and the doll in the water is perfect symbolism for the upcoming Metal Gear game, Metal Gear Survive. The fake winking baby is to show that it’s a complete imitation of the real thing. It’s Konami trying to trick the fans of Metal Gear with a lesser product.
And what about the other jar baby? Would you believe me if I told you that it represents the never released Silent Hills or as its more famously known PT? As Reedus (Kojima) and his team try and hide from the monsters in the dark, yet another representation of Konami, we can see more evidence of how Kojima felt while working for the company. We see a man pinned down in the mud and then eventually he starts prematurely aging in just seconds.
This is what Kojima and his team must have felt like as they tried to make the highly anticipated horror game. As the team tries to hide the baby, more hand prints start to form around the team. More executive input is tried to be placed on Kojima’s upcoming game. It’s then, as everything starts to fall apart around the team, a giant monster literally pulling the strings appears and destroys everything, just as they did when they cancelled PT. If you don’t think this is what Kojima thinks of Konami, then you’re just not paying attention.
So there it is. There’s the answer and explanation for what Death Stranding is. Pretty simple really. I wouldn’t be shocked if the next time see another trailer we see Norman Reedus looking up at the five figures in the famous armor that we’ve seen so many times. It’ll be Kojima letting us know that the past no longer hurts him. It’ll be beautiful… Then again, it is Kojima and I could be completely wrong. I’ve always been more of a David Cage guy. There’s actually a really strong chance that I, just like everyone else on the internet, am completely wrong and have just spent 1200 words talking complete nonsense. Maybe that was my plan all along. Maybe I’m the Kojima of the internet. Maybe I’m Kojima! What a twist! Well, whether the game is about Kojima’s relationship with Konami, or about net neutrality or the disappearance of bees, Kojimas special like that, all that we can do now is wait for the next crumb that Kojima leaves for us to follow.