Dave the Diver is one of PC Gamer’s favourite games of 2023, no small feat in a year as crammed with great releases as this one has been. In his review from July, Chris called it “easily the best game of 2023” saying “When I finished the final boss at 35 hours in, I felt like I’d been on a real adventure, and the ending gently, but genuinely, tugged on my heartstrings.” Granted, this was before Baldur’s Gate 3 blew everyone away, but still a score of 91 is nothing to sniff at.
Naturally, we were hugely excited by what colourful, charming adventure developer Mintrocket might conjure up next. The good news is that its next game is coming much sooner than you’d expect, with a planned release in 2024. The…interesting news is that it’s a PvPvE Zombie Survival game called Nakwon: Last Paradise.
Nakwon is basically Escape from Tarkov, but with zombies. It sees players venturing out from a safe zone into zombie-strewn Seoul, scavenging resources to help them survive while avoiding AI zombies and other players keen to prise your loot out of your cold, dead hands. Mintrocket recently released 22 minutes of footage of the game in action which you can view below. Alongside this, Mintrocket also shared details on its upcoming pre-alpha playtest, which will commence on the 28th of November at 5pm PST.
Now, I’m not sniffy about zombie survival games. I thoroughly enjoyed Dead Island 2’s sunsoaked zombie slapping earlier this year. But with the best will in the world, Nakwon looks painfully generic. Visually the game is incredibly dingy and grey, and neither the survivors nor the zombies have much in the way of personality. It all looks about ten years out of date.
If you’re a fan of Dave the Diver, Nakwon might seem like a bizarre swerve. But if anything, it’s Dave the Diver that’s the outlier here. Mintrocket is a sub-brand of Nexon, one of South Korea’s oldest and biggest video game publishers, responsible for titles like MapleStory and Dungeon & Fighter. It isn’t the offbeat indie developer that Dave the Diver made it look like. Indeed, this caused a bit of consternation during this year’ Game Award nominations, which saw Dave the Diver nominated for best indie game when, strictly speaking, Mintrocket is about as independent as a newborn baby.
Whether or not that definition should or does apply anymore is a larger question I’m not going to delve into here, nor the fact that what counts as an indie game has been running mainly on vibes for years now. That said, when sub-brand of a huge publisher is getting nominated for indie game awards, it does seem like we need to think harder about what exactly that award is supposed to celebrate.
Either way, you can sign up for Nakwon’s closed alpha playtest here . Spaces are unlimited and the test will run through to 11:59pm PST on Sunday 3rd of December.