There's been a certain amount of confusion and alarm over the announcement of Nakwon: Last Paradise, a dingy third-person zombie survival adventure with a big emphasis on stealth, from the creators of Dave the Diver, a bright, breezy uramaki roll of a game that mixes restaurant management with side-on undersea exploration. Is this kind of like when Prince of Persia went all edgelord with Warrior Within? Do I need to call Mintrocket's parents and ask for an intervention?
Thing is, if you take a step back from each game they're actually very similar. Both are fundamentally about scouring dangerous places for resources and ferrying them back to a safe area where you can sell them off. Both pit you, a mediocre human, against strange and unearthly creatures. Both are sort of about redeeming scenario concepts we all hate - in Dave the Diver's case, the water level, and in Nakwon's case, the stealth mission. See, this is practically a remake! Let's have a look at the trailer.
OK, that does seem rather grim, and there's nothing very Dave-the-Diverly about the developer's extensive bullet-pointed Steam description of Nakwon either. It's an almost STALKER-ish PvPvE experience set in Mintrocket's home country of Korea, and specifically Seoul, where a tiny enclave of human survivors fend off hordes of zombies.
As in Dave the Diver, it's a game of two halves. Each day, you can sneak into the city and gather resources, using shadows, crouching and thrown distractions to keep the undead off your back. Alternatively, you can spend the day resting and eating - the developers don't specify, but it sounds like there will be times when it's advisable to lie low, at the cost of depleting your food reserves. On returning from the infested city, you can sell what you've looted to pay the rent and raise your Citizen Grade, which decides which town privileges you'll get in this apparent meditation on overpopulation and "the ever-increasing cost of living".
"Seoul ranks seventh in population density, with lots of buildings tightly clustered, and every alley filled with parked cars," Mintrocket notes. "This city's densely packed elements provide the perfect environment for hiding and escaping from Zombies, which is why it has a high number of Survivors within and around it."
So how do Nakwon's undead stand, or rather, slump and lurch apart from their many equivalents in other survival games? Well, for one thing, they're "undefeatable" - the best you can do is knock them out for a brief period, and given the shortage of firearms in the game, you'll have to get up-close and personal. They mostly sleep at night, mostly, so it sounds like nocturnal expeditions will be safest, but I'm guessing there are benefits to venturing out by day.
Zombies aside, you'll have to worry about other players. While team-ups seem possible, Mintrocket are very insistent that other human beings are not your friends. "Of course, you will find yourself competing for limited resources and resorting to violence, even murder, to plunder," the developers fatalistically observe. "You can either aggressively engage to compete for a large sum of money or choose to run away and save your life."
Development of Nakwon: Lost Paradise began in December 2022, with the focus being initially on the scouting/exploration aspect, and Mintrocket are planning to host a pre-alpha test this year. There's no release date yet. What do you think of it?