Source: Netflix Inc.
This week: Guerrilla fighters and four-day work weeks. But first: Let’s talk about squids.
So you’ve just finished “Squid Game,” the fantastic new Netflix Inc. show about a group of unlucky people who compete in deadly games to win a massive cash prize. Now you’re looking for something else to satiate your cravings for creative brutality and shocking plot twists.
Good news: There are a lot of video games that fit the bill.
“Squid Game,” which Netflix says is on track to be its most popular show ever, is a South Korean drama that pits some 450 people against one another to win $35 million. The contestants, who are all in severe debt, are there by choice, which makes the outcome all the more gruesome. They participate in seemingly childish games like Red Light, Green Light and Tug of War, knowing that the losers will be killed. The show has received rave reviews for its tension, performances and scathing critique of income inequality.
If you enjoyed the show, allow me to recommend some video games you should play. Start with Danganronpa, a series of horrifying visual novels in which a group of teenagers are trapped by a sadistic (but adorable) stuffed bear.
The teenagers are told that the only way to escape is for one of them to murder another and then get away with it. At the end of every round, the group will hold a trial. If the murderer is found guilty, they’re put to death, but if they successfully pin the blame on someone else, they get to escape while everyone else dies. Each player is given a series of increasingly powerful personal motives (such as family members getting put in danger) that the game’s mastermind hopes will incentivize them to commit murder.
There are three games in the Danganronpa series, and all are a lot of fun. They’re available on PC, PlayStation and mobile phones right now and will be released on Nintendo Switch in December. Perfect timing for the marketing folks at Spike Chunsoft, the Japanese developer and publisher behind the video games. “You’ve heard of ‘Squid Game?’ Try Bear Game.”
A similar series is the Zero Escape trilogy, another set of visual novels that are full of wonderful characters and devious plot twists. Each of the three Zero Escape titles features its own death game. In the second entry, for example, nine people are forced to play a twisted version of the prisoner’s Dilemma, where each must choose to betray or ally with their teammates. The winners increase their chances of escaping; the losers risk execution.
Both the Danganronpa and Zero Escape games consist entirely of reading and solving puzzles, so they’re accessible even if you’ve never picked up a controller before. In many ways they’re more like books than games.
Just like “Squid Game,” they have a dose of egregious violence, but the real appeal is the mystery and tension.
If you’re looking for a more traditional blockbuster, check out Ubisoft Entertainment SA’s Far Cry 6, a formulaic but fun game in which you play as a guerrilla fighter taking down a dictator on a fictional island nation inspired by Cuba. The open world is a lot like Ubisoft’s other games, but it’s slick and beautiful. Plus you get to order a crocodile to bite the faces off of enemy soldiers.
Eidos Montreal is switching to a four-day work week. Employees at the Canadian game development studio will retain their same salaries but will only have to work 32 hours a week. This is the first big video game studio to make such a shift. The move was likely intended to improve retention in Montreal, where the landscape for game developers has been very competitive. It may have lasting effects across the entire industry.
Metroid Dread seems poised to be a breakout game for the series. Between the critical acclaim and the Switch’s big numbers, it seems like this is Samus Aran’s best chance yet to finally get a commercial hit. If Metroid Dread can’t sell more than 5 million copies, can any Metroid game?
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is coming to an end after three years of new content. The game’s final character, Sora, from Kingdom Hearts, was announced this week to many cheers.
Koichi Sugiyama, the composer for the Dragon Quest series, died at age 90. Although his music was popular, his far-right nationalist views were controversial among fans of the series.