Welcome back to the Weekly Nerd! The Nintendo Switch has proven to be a fairly successful platform early in its life cycle. While the exclusive games on the console are limited at the time, their first party titles tend to be very well made games. Splatoon 2 is following this trend of fantastic first party titles on the Switch. As is often the case for Nintendo’s first party titles, the game is fairly light on story, but have very deep gameplay. While this is certainly the case for Splatoon 2, there are small pieces of world building throughout the game. Now keep in mind this is just a fun thought experiment based on things I have seen and heard in the game. Let’s take a look at some of the darker aspects of this game.
Your main hub in the game, Inkopolis Square, is a center for fashion, community and the events that all inklings participate. This bright and populated area is pleasing to the eyes and ears, but it is a small part of the world. A lot of the areas that squid kids battle out on are very bright and colorful as well. These areas resemble things like rec centers, gyms, skate parks When you play the main campaign, you start to notice how weird the outside world looks. A lot of the stages take place in an industrial nightmare. Below the platforms that your Inkling is navigating lies dingy cities, darkened horizons and pollution as far as the eye can see. These vistas are actually quite impressive looking within the context of the game but when giving them some thought, the implications are a little dark. The plot of this game tells us two things very early on: Callie one of the famous Squid Sisters from the previous game has gone missing and that the Octarian race has stolen the Zapfish that give the Inklings the power to run their city.
While the Inklings had faced the likes of DJ Octavio in the previous game, we really don’t know very much about the Octarians. The fact that we never really see what their lives are like. The current state of the Octarion homeland suggests that there is a massive energy crisis so a never-ending war for resources will continue to persist. The scrolls from the first game tell us that the world was decimated by rising water levels, allowing sea creatures to evolve and start fighting for territory. These battles were known as the “turf wars” which is the same name as Splatoon’s main versus mode. It really seems like Inkopolis is training child soldiers to fight in a race war. That is pretty dark.
The Octarians were forced to live underground after losing the war. Due to their energy crisis, the end up stealing the Zapfish to power their ailing city. As an Inkling, it is the player’s duty to quell the revolting Octarians and take back the Zapfish for your society that is above ground. Rather than any talk of reaching a peace treaty, you are expected to take out their forces and get your resources back. Interestingly, it sounds like the Octarians and the Inklings used to be ally’s so the fact that they are now bitter enemies even more unfortunate.
Another fascinating aspect of the world is that most of your opponents are Octarian soldiers that look the same as one another. On the rare occasion, you face off against the rare and dangerous Octolings. These elite soldiers are the Octarian equivalent to the Inklings. It is likely that they were the main Octarian fighting force during the turf wars. During the campaign, you do not encounter them very often, so it is interesting to consider what may have befallen the Octolings. Perhaps many of them were wiped out during the turf wars? Or they can be going through similar training as the player character, participating in mock battles in preparation for the next massive war. You may notice that they have red glowing Terminator like eyes. It makes me wonder if the Octolings were experimented on or created through unnatural means.
So the creators of this game have sprinkled in a lot of interesting lore and clues to the twisted world that the Inklings and Octarians inhabit. My favorite part of this dark backstory within the game is that you can completely ignore it. It is there for you to notice and investigate within the scrolls if you like. You can ponder over how the world ended up the way it did and the implication of child soldiers. Or you can appreciate the well crafted single player stages and the chaotic fun of the multiplayer battles. The developers simply sprinkled in some lore to add a bit of flavor to the world.
Splatoon 2 is a strange and beautiful game. The more I play, the more odd yet interesting things I find. The world that these hip Squid Kids live in is actually pretty messed up on quite a few levels. But who cares? You get to listen to a great mix of surf rock, punk and pop music while you fight in a bitter war for dwindling resources. If you have a Nintendo Switch, this game is an easy choice. While you are playing it, keep an eye out for some of the strange but darker themes in the game. It definitely makes the world more interesting.