In true Hideo Kojima fashion, Death Stranding’s story is absolutely bonkers. The game makes good on the promise of a crazy, bizarre world brimming with oddities passed off as things to be taken for granted, from the little things such as the names of its characters and the way they often interact with each other (or the player), to the bigger ones, like the way the game’s many mysteries unravel themselves.
Surprisingly enough, Death Stranding does a pretty good job of wrapping up its ambitious story (for the most part)- but of course, it doesn’t tie up all lose ends. By the time the credits roll, there are still some things the game leaves unresolved- which isn’t surprising, considering that’s a writing choice Hideo Kojima has been making with his games for- well, for as long as he’s been making games, really.
In this feature, we’ll be talking about five questions that Death Stranding raises throughout its runtime – directly or indirectly – but doesn’t ever answer. We don’t know if there will ever be a sequel that looks to do that, but even so, it’s fun thinking about the possibilities. Obviously, there will be major spoilers ahead for the entirety of Death Stranding, so if you haven’t finished the game, stop watching right now.
With all that said, let’s get started.
The babies in jars were among the first things we ever saw of Death Stranding, and up until the game’s launch, we had seen more of them than anything else from the entire game- and yet, questions about their nature and purpose still existed. The game itself does a surprisingly good job of explaining why bottled babies are a normal thing in its post-apocalyptic world, and what they even do, but there is one particular BB that still has plenty of mystery surrounding it (or her, as we eventually find)- Sam’s BB.
For hours, Death Stranding leads the player to believe that BB-28 was Cliff’s child, before revealing right at the end that that was actually Sam himself, who was originally a Bridge Baby, too. Which is all well and good- but then what’s the deal with BB-28? It’s ready to be decommissioned as the game begins, and it malfunctions a couple of times throughout the game- and in the moments that that is happening, we buy it, because we figure that that’s got something to do with its past with Cliff.
But since it has no past with Cliff, why is it often not functioning the way Bridges intends? What about its connection to Deadman- nothing ever came out of that particular story arc either. And what about the visions of Cliff (or memories, as we eventually find out) Sam keeps seeing every time he plugs the BB in? Is that just because he was once a BB too, and all BBs are essentially on the sam chiral network?
The arc of Amelie and Bridget is perhaps one of the most ridiculously far-fetched ones in all of Death Stranding, which is really saying something. They’re both essentially the same person, with Amelie and Bridget being the spiritual and physical manifestations (respectively) of that person, while they’re both also an Extinction Entity (or EE), the sixth of their kind.
And credit to the game for explaining all that, sure- but there’s still so much more that it doesn’t explain. In fact, that explanation only raises more questions. For example, how the hell did the whole EE thing begin? Who were the first five EEs? What cosmic force of nature creates them and then dispatches them to Earth? What’s the purpose behind their cataclysmic shenanigans?
If you don’t want to go that further back in Death Stranding’s version of Earth’s history, then let’s just talk about Amelie- where did she even come from? What is it that marked her out as the EE of her era? Well, her strong connection to the other side, presumably, but how did that connection come up?
There’s just as many questions about the whole concept of Extinction Events and Death Strandings as there are about Extinction Entities. The game does an excellent job of building up an air of mystery around this deadly phenomenon, and the way it ties it into previous extinction events deserves a lot of praise- but again, it just raises more questions than it answers.
The origins of the Death Stranding, of its devastating effects on the world and its inhabitants, and all the cosmic horror it brings about every time it happens were things we were all excited to learn the origins of, but there’s still so much the game doesn’t explain. Why did the first Extinction Event occur? What triggered it? Was it just the universe’s way of course correcting, or were there some other forces at work?
EEs are supposed to be forces of destruction, sure, but that destruction is supposed to be the pathway that leads to more new life- it’s supposed to be a cyclical thing. So then why is EE trying the bring about the Last Stranding, which would end that cycle and just destroy all life on Earth, period?
The two things that make the phenomenon known as Death Stranding as deadly as it is are Beached Things (or BTs) and Timefall, the rainfall that rapidly ages anything it touches. And while it’s an excellent concept that makes for some excellent visual imagery throughout the game, its connection to the Death Stranding is never really explained all that well.
Why does the Death Stranding effect regular rainfall the way it does? Why does it distort time in such a weird and oddly specific manner? Is it because of the BTs, because of the extinction events themselves, or because of something else entirely? Timefall and BTs usually go hand-in-hand, with one usually following the other, so one would assume that those two are intrinsically linked- but how so?
Something else Timefall and BTs usually bring with them are inverted rainbows, which we see so many of throughout the game. What’s the deal with those? Do they become inverted because of the same distortions that give Timefall its unique properties? And, once again- what are those distortions?
There’s no shortage of quirky, interestingly named characters with unique backstories in Death Stranding, and Heartman has to be among the most interesting of the lot. Caught in a self-imposed cycle of life and death and life again, Heartman has visited the Beach a whopping 218,550 times by the time Sam first meets him, all so that he can find his dead family. When he’s not on the Beach, he spends his time watching movies and listening to music, which just makes him even cooler.
But by the time the game ends, the sixth Death Stranding has been (temporarily) averted- so where does that leave Heartman? How does that affect his quest to be reunited with his loved ones? The likes of Mama, Deadman, Die-Hardman, Higgs, Cliff, and many others all receive proper conclusions and payoffs to their personal story arcs, but Heartman’s story is left unresolved by the time the game ends- which is a little disappointing, because he was probably one of the game’s most interesting characters.