If Palworld is an indiscriminate gruel of other games Pokemon is the emergency crackers off the Titanic. They’re just as bland as they were 100 years ago.

I’ve got a couple thoughts about Palworld I wanted to jot down. I think they’ll remain relevant to our overall gaming convo together long after the hype around this game has died down. I don’t think that will take long.

This is the transcript for the video below, enjoy!

Palworld released a few days ago and has quickly blown the charts. It’s Steam’s second most played game EVER, behind only PUBG. It’s done equally gangbusters on gamepass, outpacing Starfield. I’d tell you a fun fact about the Epic Store but I’m trying to keep this script focused on things people actually care about.

But every time a monster collector game comes out people ask two things.

The first is “is this the Pokemon killer.”

These clickbait titles need to come clean and admit the only game that can kill Pokemon is Pokemon itself. And it’s doing a good enough job on it’s own… With all its record breaking sales.

“Is this the X killer” is a symptom of being the biggest game in your genre. Be halo in the early naughties, or stardew valley, or a souls game now.

I’m going on a little bit of a limb here but if palworld is going to kill any game it would have to be Ark Survival Evolved. The remake ARK: Survival Ascended dropped late last year in a very actual early access state if you know what I mean. They can’t afford to lose players like Pokemon can. And two of the three largest Ark Youtubers I could find all had Palworld videos up, hitching that wagon just in case Palworld isn’t a flash in the pan.

The second question is “is this a Pokemon clone”.

It doesn’t take a Spot The Difference scientist to see where Palworlds monster inspirations come from. Every monster collector, no matter how different it is lives in Pokemon’s shadow whether they’re trying to steal that shadow or not.

But let’s be completely honest for a second.

Gamefreak would not and could not make Palworld. If pushed they could almost make a Pokemon Game.

I think this alone is enough to clear Palworld of any wrongdoing. (There have been claims around AI usage but there’s a lack of any real evidence for that, so I’m not touching that.)

Games are a constantly iterative medium. Every game in development is in dialogue with every other game that has already been released. We never know where cross pollination will occur.

Except in the case of palworld, which was born in the Bermuda triangle of most popular genres mashed together. There’s something about it which feels ineffably cynical in its calculations. It’s like The Expendables of video games. It’s the sort of game that EA would make if they had the balls.

Palworld is brazen in its inspirations. Right out the gate you wake up and get a Shika slate, complete with blue dooong text.

Weirdly PocketPair says it’s taken zero inspo from Pokemon, and fails to mention Zelda entirely, instead citing Ark, Minecraft, rimworld, Rust, GTA and Dragon Quest.

But deciding when a game is inspired by, and when it is a soulless derivative is an almost entirely emotional journey. It’s a bit like Porn, you know it when you see it. but none of that matters at all if you’re having a genuinely good time. At this point in the online dialogue having this conversation about Palworld can sort of look like you’re being a sore loser about it’s success, so perhaps it’s something best left for when the hype has died down.

But when discussing this in my brochat Monkey summarised his thoughts nicely.

“It’s whether they’ve brought vitality and soul to it, and whether the elements are there for a reason that contributes to the quality of the game”

To tastefully rephrase his statement, Is the Pokemon element of Palworld a pair of fake tits bolted to a skeleton to add sex appeal to the bones? or are they attached to a breast cancer Survivor looking to regain a little dignity. On balance I’d say it’s probably the latter, despite the games current early access jank.

While the world itself can be barren, this game has brought new and interesting ways to interact with your Palemons that pokemon has so desperately needed for years now. even if that interaction is slavery and cannibalism.

I’m going to refrain from bothering to give any sort of recommendation for Palworld because at this point everyone with a Steam account and gives a shit already owns it.