In Death Stranding, you play as Sam Porter Bridges (Norman Reedus).
He’s a Porter whose job is to deliver cargo and connect the United Cities of America and various other loners and factions to something called the Chiral Network for an organization called Bridges.
What is Bridges? What is a Chiral Network? What’s a Porter for that matter? The following list of terms should help you get started in Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima’s latest project and one of the strangest video games I’ve ever played.
Alright, we’ll start with . . . .
- The Death Stranding was a cataclysmic event where numerous Voidouts (see below) caused explosions all across the continent, decimating America (and possibly the whole world?), leveling its cities, and killing off most of the population, resulting in completely changed landscape and society.
- The USA is now the UCA or United Cities of America, a ragtag band of cities trying to centralize government and information. The group known as Bridges is spearheading this effort.
- Porters are people who deliver stuff in the post-apocalyptic America this game takes place in. They lug around special cargo protected in special cargo containers that help prevent the effects of Timefall (see below). As Sam, you’re not just a porter but also a representative of Bridges, helping to unite the Knot Cities–city-states with their own governments–and other loners into the UCA.
- BTs are “Beached Things” – essentially frightening tar ghosts that float on ghostly umbilical cords in the air that you need to avoid or, later on, kill. They’ve come from the Beach–the land of the dead.
- You’ll need a BB, or “Bridge Baby”, to spot BTs. You wear this baby in a clear jar thing on your torso. Sam’s BB is pretty much the second most important character in the game.
- BBs come from “Stillmothers” – basically braindead pregnant women whose connection to the Beach (aka the land of the dead) makes their babies special. (Stillmothers remind me of R Scott Bakker’s “whale mothers” in his grimdark fantasy novel series.)
- You’ll also need your trusty Odradek scanner which you can use to scan terrain both to find cargo and to see where tougher and easier terrain is. It will also freak the heck out when BTs are close, showing you what direction the nearest one is.
- Timefall is time-accelerating rain, which is a truly terrifying concept. Black Timefall is when you’re in the rain and BTs show up and everything gets very dark and ominous and your scanner starts having a nervous breakdown and BB starts crying.
- MULEs are bandits out to steal your cargo because they’re literally addicted to cargo delivery. Go figure.
- The whole “Chiral Network” is basically Death Stranding’s internet. It’s made out of chirilium–the black stuff that you get pulled into when BTs drag you down, and that you see hovering around the world here and there. I’m honestly not sure how the chiral network functions, but it’s your job to bring it to the outposts, preppers and cities of America and “make America whole again.”
- Sam comes back from death because he’s a Repatriate–someone who can be resurrected over and over again. If a BT kills a normal person, you have to burn them or there will be a Voidout–essentially a massive explosion that can level cities.
- You’ll access menus and transmissions with a pair of special Cuff Links. You can build structures using PCCs, but only in areas covered by the Chiral Network. You’ll still be able to build ladders and ropes and so-forth outside of the Chiral Network. PCCs are very useful since they can build many different types of structures like generators.
- You connect the Chiral Network to various locations using a Q-Pid. It’s a special necklace that you can put into any outpost or city terminal to bring them online. Weirdly, all these places you visit are weirdly empty. For the most part, you only ever speak to holographic images of people. The only “real” people you see are enemies or the occasional NPC porter. It’s a lonely game.
- You’ll also meet other characters like Fragile (Lea Seydoux) the leader of the delivery company Fragile. And terrorist skull-face dude Higgs (Troy Baker) the leader of the Homo Demens, as well as others. I won’t spoil story stuff surrounding these characters, however. These include:
- Bridges officer Mama (Margaret Qualley), Bridges leader Die-Hardman (Tommie Earl Jenkins), jolly scientist Deadman (Jessi Corti does the voice, Guillermo del Toro is the model), British scientist Heartman, your mysterious sister Amelie (Emily O’Brien), the enigmatic Cliff (Mads Mikkelsen), and the Wondering MC (Conan O’Brien). There are many, many others.
- Not only does Sam have the ability to come back from the dead, he also possesses special powers called DOOMS, which allows you to better sense BTs and so forth. You have “Chiral Allergy” which induces a rash and makes a single tear flow from your eyes when you get too close to a Chiral object or creature from the Beach. Fragile also has DOOMS.
- You’ll eat strange little bugs called Cryptobiotes which help replenish your blood, which you’ll need to do when harmed, and which slow the effects of Timefall since they can traverse between the Earth and Beach. You also use your blood in special Hematic grenades and other weapons because it’s toxic to BTs.
- Not only do you use your blood to make grenades, you also use your sweat (to make #0 grenades) and urine (#1 grenades) and feces (yep, #2 grenades).
- Other weapons include a Bola gun, Assault Rifle, .357 Magnum and electrified poles.
- Meanwhile, you’ll drink Monster Energy Drink to revive your stamina, because that’s not a totally immersion-breaking product placement deal at all! (And when you go #2 in your private quarters, the door to the shower/bathroom shuts revealing a poster for AMC’s “Ride With Norman Reedus” which . . . seriously?)
Okay, I think that about sums up the terminology for the game. I’m sure I’ve missed something because there’s just so much Kojima mumbo-jumbo throughout, so if you think something needs to be added to this list, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.
Hope you’re enjoying Death Stranding! Or at least surviving!