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Pokémon cuteness meets brutal survival in Palworld

A grim world filled with adorable, exploitable, edible pals

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

On Saturday, developer PocketPair unveiled Palworld, an open-world survival game with a twist. Palworld is more than just a multiplayer survival-style shooter, it’s also heavily inspired by Pokémon.

Palworld’s debut trailer shows a captivating dichotomy of ideas. This is a game where players explore, craft, build, and wage war, all aided by Pokémon-like creatures called Pals. Players can enlist Pals to do construction, ride them across vast terrain, and even use them as mobile cover in gunfights. It gets darker; players can also exploit their Pals for labor, putting them to work in the fields, grinding grain, and, of course, mass-manufacturing assault rifles.

You can even hunt your Pals for food.

Palworld’s trailer is all over the place, in the best way possible. We see players sheering flocks of not-Wooloo and breeding a not-Gyarados with a not-Arcanine for an all-new kind of not-Pokémon. Then we see players using that not-Wooloo as a sobbing shield and firing a rocket launcher for wholesale destruction.

Developer PocketPair — which also released the very strange survival action game Craftopia — is pretty cheeky in its description of Palworld on Steam. “Don’t worry; labor laws won’t be applied to Pals,” the game’s description reads. “Endangered species Pals live in the hunting prohibited area,” the developer adds. “If you sneak in and catch them, you’ll get tons of money! It’s only illegal if you get caught.”

Put simply, PocketPair calls Palworld “a game about living a slow life with mysterious creatures [...] or throwing yourself into life-and-death battles with poachers.” The Windows PC game is due sometime in 2022.

The next level of puzzles.

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