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Palworld, often described as “Pokémon with guns,” finally has an Early Access release date. In addition to its violent battles, the game tackles labor exploitation themes with a sardonic sense of humor while adding (perhaps) just enough changes to evade Nintendo’s lawyers. It launches in Early Access on Steam and Game Pass on January 19.

At first glance, Palworld’s trailers make the game look like a simple and charming 3D open-world riff on Pokémon. You’ll see battles with strange monsters, vaguely resembling those in the creature collecting franchise, including players capturing them inside a sphere after a victory.

Still from the game Palworld. A Pokémon-like creature sits with an angry expression while holding an assault rifle.
Pocketpair

But Palworld also takes things to darker places Nintendo would never dream of. For example, take this slice of developer Pocketpair’s Steam FAQ about the game. In response to “What kind of game is this?”, it reads, “Pals can be used to fight, or they can be made to work on farms or factories. You can even sell them or eat them!”

A section of the FAQ on building reads, “Want to build a pyramid? Put an army of Pals on the job. Don’t worry; there are no labor laws for Pals.” On factories and automation, it says, “Letting Pals do the work is the key to automation. Build a factory, place a Pal in it, and they’ll keep working as long as they’re fed — until they’re dead, that is.” The game’s trailers showcase piles of Pal corpses to prove the point.

For yet another example of the game’s dark undertones, take the video above, “Using Pals Efficiently.” “To build a great base, catch a Pal and make it work,” the voiceover says, repeating the last part twice for emphasis. Simultaneously, we see various Pokémon-like monsters sweating away constructing the player’s headquarters.

The narration continues: “Creating a productive base like this,” as we see a yard full of Pals swinging hammers, “is the secret to living a comfortable life in Palworld.” The player circles them, holding an assault rifle to ensure they’re on task.

Palworld will be available in Early Access on January 19 at 00:00 PST. You can catch them all — and put them to work — on Steam and Game Pass (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and Windows).

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/pokemon-with-guns-satire-palworld-launches-in-early-access-on-january-19-185152491.html?src=rss

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