Japanese studio Pocketpair is back with another early look at Palworld, the Pokémon-like game that so masterfully shocked us with its reveal last summer.
Palworld is, well, a lot. Not only do you capture and raise cute monsters (or “Pals”), but you can also use those same monsters in a bunch of unsavory ways. As if the glorified cockfighting of Pokémon wasn’t enough, Palworld almost gleefully embraces the more violent side of nature (both Mother and human) in subjecting its Pals to hunting, poaching, butchering, consumption, and scientific experimentation by gun-toting players and other Pals alike.
Construction also plays a large role in Palworld, which means players can force their Pals into building everything from simple homes and gardens to weapons of mass destruction using what is essentially slave labor. I guess you’ll never be without realistic-looking weapons if Pal-staffed assembly lines pump them out with the speed of a global superpower.
“Labor laws won’t be applied to Pals, feel free to work them into the ground,” the game’s Steam description explains. “Build a factory and place Pals in it. They will work forever as long as they’re fed, until the end of their lifetime or beaten to a pulp by the factory boss. The meaner the factory boss, the quicker you get results.”
It’s hard to tell exactly what Pocketpair is trying to do and/or say with Palworld. The matter-of-fact descriptions of the terrible things you can do in the game read almost as parody. Perhaps it’s a statement on how horrific the gameplay of the long-running Pokémon franchise looks when viewed through a real-world lens. Better yet, it may even be an indictment of capitalistic evils like sweatshops and factory farming.
“Real-world events definitely inspired us while creating Palworld,” Pocketpair CEO Takuro Mizobe told NME last year. “We were also driven by the need to create an imperfect game world. We don’t want Palworld to be beautiful and perfect. We want to inject elements of darker themes, including exploitation and violence, alongside the intelligent animals.”
Palworld is scheduled for a 2022 release.