Yesterday, developer Pocketpair released a trailer for its upcoming game Palworld, which describes itself as a “multiplayer, open-world survival crafting game” with some Pokemon-looking companions. Things seem to start off fine, before the trailer takes a dark turn.
I don’t want to ruin the delight of you experiencing this all for yourself, so you should really just watch the trailer before you keep reading.
At first, everything seems pretty normal! You have some brightly-colored animal buddies you can ride around on, and who can help you build a house, harvest crops, and power gadgets. They can fight by your side, which is a little more grim than the game appears at first blush, but OK. But hey, look—you can pet the dog! All good here!
But around 50 seconds into the minute-and-a-half trailer, the chill music gets more intense. We see a player using a sheep as a shield in a firefight. The sheep, as you might expect, is very unhappy.
We then see more of the game’s animals in combat, with the player hurling a bird at human enemies. Then we see a bird seeming to have captured some cute little buddies, and then the kicker—a row of sad dragon-looking guys working on an assembly line, dejectedly putting together some very realistic guns. Then we get these depressed monkeys turning a wench in the desert. It’s intense.
According to Palworld’s Steam description, this is part of the game’s “Factory and Automation” gameplay, with the developers explaining that “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.” Emphasis mine, because what the fuck.
On Twitter, people are having a field day with how unexpectedly bonkers this trailer is. Several people have pointed out that Palworld seems to be exactly the dystopic animal cruelty simulator PETA claims Pokemon is. Others are making some excellent memes. Cognitive dissonance is pretty much par for the course in video games, and lord knows Pokemon is pretty dark if you think about it too hard, but Palworld’s trailer is on another level.
Palworld currently plans to release in 2022.
(Updated 3/3/22 with new details)