Except for the brief P.T., Hideo Kojima has not released a game outside of the Metal Gear universe for over 20 years. That changes this week with the launch of Death Stranding. True to his eccentric style, the game comes filled with ludicrous lore and philosophical musings. It’s a lot to digest. Thankfully we are here to help. Below you’ll find a compilation of the Death Strandings esoteric terminology replete with spoiler-free definitions. In good old Kojima fashion, a lot of the answers will lead you to even more complex questions, but of course, that’s part of the fun.
Aphenphosmphobia – Sam’s phobia that causes human contact to permanently mark his skin, hence the handprint scars all over his body.
BB (Bridge Babies) – Premature babies kept in a stasis that mimics their mother’s womb. They’re perpetually in a state that’s in between being born and not existing (dead). It’s this limbo state that enables those that attach to them to see BTs. The exact nature of BBs and their history has been lost. Instructions on how to make them are known but why they work are still unclear. Research on what they are is ongoing.
Beach – A mysterious, mirror reflection of our world and the dead: A sort of limbo space that reflects both, while being neither. It’s where the BTs come from, and early on, it’s implied that it is a place where souls go after death before proceeding to the afterlife. Everyone has their own beach: “A discrete beach is influenced by the mind of the associated individual, and therefore linked to them irrevocably.” It’s the link between one’s life and the afterlife, their tether to the next world and this one.
Bridges (company) – Courier company that keeps communication alive via its employees. They hire Sam to restore communication between cities, via the chiral network, whereby America can be reconstituted; no longer disparate cities but a unified country.
BTs (Beached Things) – Creatures that followed Death Stranding. They came from the beach and propagate by absorbing the dead via necrosis. They’re “mirror images of ourselves.” They reflect on us and appear to be the same but only in reflection. They are our opposites. When the two meet, a voidout occurs.” They leave handprints wherever they go, possibly a sign of a desire for connection.
Chiralium – A primordial particle, like dark matter, as ancient as the universe. Its existence only became known after the Death Stranding since, before, it resided in an unperceivable dimension. Voidouts brought chiralium into the realm of the senses via the chiral crystals left behind after the explosion. “Chiral matter is not affected by the passage of time. As far as these particles are concerned, no time has elapsed since the Big Bang.” A high density of chiralium in the atmosphere leads to timefall.Chiral “comes from the Greek word hand.” The essence of chirality: “The state in which the mirror image of a shape does not match the original”
Chiralgram – Holograms projected via the Chiral Network.
Chiral Allergy – Allergy present in Dooms carriers whereby they respond to increased chiral activity. For instance, when in the presence of high chiral density, Sam cries.
Chiral Contamination – “Result of prolonged exposure to chiral radiation, which is emitted by chiralium.” Exposure has serious physical and mental effects akin to those caused by high levels of stress. The most common symptom is poor sleep due to nightmares, but other symptoms include heart failure, severe hormone imbalance, and stroke. Symptoms can be alleviated by the hormones, oxytocin and “likecin.”
Chiral Crystals – High concentrations of chiralium pressurized into crystal forms. They’re left behind by BTs, Timefall, and voidouts.
Chiral Network – The communication system used by Bridges, much like the internet. Bridges utilize chiral matter in the atmosphere to share information. By tapping into the timelessness of chiralium, data can be shared almost instantaneously. Aside from the immediate in-game relevance, it also refers to the online component of Death Stranding. When you’re in areas connected to the chiral network, you can access online features like sharing supplies and seeing structures built by other players.
Corals (of the Seam) – Organisms that live in the seam. It is posited that these organisms exist in an in-between space (between life and death, time and timelessness) as a result of evolution. They’re likened to those first creatures who walk on land. Fish with legs were not naturally selected for their ability to explore the land but for their capacity to return to the water. Similarly, coral seek to return to a realm outside of time. Their ability to traverse both means they can exist in neither. They’ve been around longer than any organism of the land, weathered the mass extinction 540 million years ago, and are “…a lifeform upon which many other organisms rely for survival.”
Corpse Disposal – Unit of Bridges tasked with incinerating corpses. Due to necrosis, corpses must be cremated, and because of the chiralium released upon burning, they need to be burned far away from populous areas like cities.
Cryptobite – Bugs that have existed for a long time, even before the Death Stranding, but were so insignificant most people didn’t know they existed. They are “named for the process of cryptobasis, which means hidden life.” Cryptobites can survive almost anything and even live within the beach and Seam. Eating them can help humans temporarily resist the effects of timefall. “A cryptobite a day keeps the timefall away”
Dooms – A mysterious condition whereby the affected individual has super-human abilities and resistance to chiral contamination. The abilities are graded on a scale with the lowest levels, like Sam, only being able to sense BTs. He can sense their presence, and has a bodily reaction, but cannot see them. Others at higher levels can see, and sometimes even control, BTs.
Death Stranding – The “fourth” explosion. It marks the time when the first voidouts occurred and destabilized the world.
Evo-Devo Unit – Evo-deo refers to “evolutionary developmental biology.” All life shares nearly identical DNA – having evolved from the same ancestors. So, according to evo-devo, with the proper technology, any organism’s DNA can be used to construct another organism’s DNA. An Evo-Devo unit utilizes this concept with objects. It uses the timelessness of the chiral network to form an object out of an incomplete one.
Fragile (company) – The private delivery company that transports goods for individuals on a freelance basis. Unlike bridges, it isn’t tied to any unification effort or government, thereby making it palatable to preppers and the like.
Homo Demens – A general term for militant groups who oppose centralization of power. They aim to keep their cities independent and self-governing. In accordance with these ideals, there is no central authority to whom they answer. They’re independent cells that share the same general philosophy.
Ka – Part of human that remains after the rest turns into a BT. The “spiritual self.”
Likecin – A hormone, like oxytocin, that is secreted by the brain. However, unlike oxytocin, it cannot be administered synthetically. Likecin results from receiving praise, or “likes,” from others.
Memory Chips – Data left over from the old world, these little bits of information provide clues to how people used to live (and sometimes offer wacky meta info directly from Kojima). In the universe, people often describe sightings of these chips as “Ka,” implying they are viewed as more than just simple electronics; they are conduits of lost souls.
Mules – Enemies encountered in the wild who wish to steal equipment and packages. They are not scavengers. They do not require the gear to survive; they just wish to deliver it. They define themselves by delivering. They’re addicted to it, hence, the name mule. Their pathological obsession with delivering may be a result of chiral contamination. The resulting hormonal imbalance may cause impairments to memory and judgment – leading to the creation of a myopic identity. They see themselves as pack mules rather than people.
Necrosis – A condition that follows death and leads to the creation of a new BT. This occurs because the boundary between life and death has been broken. Souls try to reconnect with their bodies, facilitated by BTs, then upon connecting a voidout occurs and a BT is created.
Odrarek – The scanner used by Sam and other porters. It provides various information about one’s surroundings, such as structure locations and the steepness of local terrain. With a BB attached these scanners also signal the location of BTs.
PCC (Portable Chiral Constructor) –A 3D printing device that allows one to build various structures like bridges, watchtowers, generators, and postboxes.
Preppers – Independent survivalists who are often skeptical and resistant to the UCA. Many broke away from society before the Death Stranding. They created shelters and hoarded supplies as they anticipated an inevitable catastrophe. They were right. The Death Stranding hit and they were the only ones remotely prepared. Following the incident, preppers embrace their independent lifestyle. They utilize Fragile for cargo shipping and delivery since they work outside any government confides.
Phobia – In the world of Death Stranding, a physical and psychological condition caused by chiral exposure.
Q-Pid – A device made from chiralium used to link waystations to the chiral network.
Repatriate – One who can return after death.
Seam – Limbo state where one’s soul goes after death. As a repatriate, Sam can reconnect to his body while in the seam. He doesn’t proceed to the Beach.
Still Mother – Mothers of bridge babies who are brain dead. Their bodies are kept alive to calibrate the artificial womb where the Bridge Babies reside.
Strand – Strand usually refers to the connection or part of a rope. As such, it’s the term given to any established connection in the chiral network and the identification rope carried by Sam. Sam’s rope can also serve as a non-lethal weapon to parry and immobilize attackers.
Timefall – In the world of Death Stranding, all rain is categorized as timefall. It causes whatever it touches to age then turns to normal water. Timefall only occurs in certain locations. It’s signaled by an inverted rainbow.
UCA (United Cities of America) – The remnants of the United States of America. No longer a federalist society with States, the once-mighty country is broken and fractured. The Bridges company, along with what remains of the U.S. government, are trying to rebuild the country though it will be a country made up of unified cities rather than states.
Voidouts – They are caused by a corpse becoming a BT. The result is a massive explosion that leaves nothing but ash and a giant crater.
For more on Death Stranding be sure to check out our review, podcast, and helpful tip guide.