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Pokémon with guns: Indie game Palworld has players up in arms

A new game revealed during this weekend’s Indie Live Expo has some players scratching their heads. Palworld is a Pokémon-like game scheduled to release in 2022 that’s filled with cute monsters … and lots of guns.

PALWORLD - Official Trailer

Developed by Pocketpair, Palworld is described as a multiplayer open-world game with survival crafting elements. At first glance, it looks a bit like an average Pokémon game. The trailer features a vibrant world filled with creatures that look directly based on specific Pokémon. There’s even a sheep that looks suspiciously similar to Wooloo.

After around 35 seconds, the trailer takes a bizarre turn. It cuts to human characters shooting monsters with assault rifles and shotguns. At one point, a character uses the same adorable sheep I mentioned above as a shield to deflect bullets.

In another baffling moment, the camera cuts to a factory where weeping monsters are mass-producing assault rifles. The game’s Steam page includes an entire section on its factory automation mechanic, which is even darker: “It is essential for automation to let Pals do the manual work. Build a factory and place Pals in it. They will work forever as long as they’re fed until the end of their lifetime.”

A human uses a monster as a human shield in Palworld.

Pocketpair has racked up tons of engagement on social media, with the trailer getting over 33 thousand likes on Twitter alone. While some seem all in on the trailer’s “WTF” nature, others are disgusted.

“I’m legitimately horrified at this game and how many people are excited for blatant-Pokémon-ripoff-creature-design gun wars and slave labor,” tweeted user Screaming Possum in response.

It’s not clear what Pocketpair’s intentions are here, but Palworld does read like an intentional social satire. The game’s Steam page lists all the normal features you’d see in a monster collecting game next to cheeky ones that describe illegal poaching and hunting mechanics. It seems to be a sharp commentary that digs into the dark undertones of games like Pokémon that are about capturing creates and making them battle.

Whatever the intent is, Palworld is set to release sometime in 2022. For a more wholesome monster collecting experience, maybe stick to New Pokémon Snap.

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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