Skip to main content

Blades in the Dark makers’ Deathmatch Island channels Squid Game, Fortnite and Severance in a nightmarish battle royale RPG

Isle love the sound of this.

Image credit: Old Dog Games/Evil Hat Productions

The makers of Blades in the Dark will drop players into a dystopian game show in their next RPG, Deathmatch Island.

Evil Hat Productions describes Deathmatch Island as being informed by the nightmarish reality show of Netflix hit Squid Game, mixed with the corporate dystopia of TV series Severance and video game Control.

Image credit: Evil Hat Productions

Players take on the roles of contestants chosen to compete in the titular competition across a chain of strange islands, needing to determine who they chose to form bonds with and trust, while resisting the pressure of the system around them as it attempts to turn the participants against each other.

The game show - and the game itself, it seems - will be split into two phases, during which the players (and their characters) explore the starting island, encountering fellow contestants, building up useful resources and completing challenges put in their way.

After that, a battle royale like those seen in the likes of movies Battle Royale and Hunger Games and even video games like Fortnite and PUBG Battlegrounds, begins, putting the characters’ bonds and survival skills to the test.

We play Agon with co-creator John Harper and designer-writer Allison ArthWatch on YouTube

Powering Deathmatch Island’s gameplay - said to be fast-playing and beginner-friendly - is designer Tim Denee’s spin on the Paragon system used by John Harper and Sean Nittner in their delightfully dramatic mythical Greek adventure Agon.

Agon’s system - which allows players to declare what happens after they see how well they rolled, using their characters’ epic titles as an entertaining springboard for tests - later span out into a freely-available SRD that powered Harper and Nittner’s own X-Files-esque game Chamber.

Image credit: Evil Hat Productions

Denee’s adaptation of Paragon in Deathmatch Island is said to maintain its digestible approach to character traits and engaging conflict resolution, keeping each session’s story a focus with minimal prep required. The game's character sheet reveals a dystopian element of gathering followers - which affect the die you used for certain tests, as well as earning you a nickname - alongside character capabilities in skills such as "social game", "challenge beast" and "snake mode". It seems you'll also be able to suffer locational damage tracked on your sheet, from a variety of weapons ranging from knives and crossbows to rocket launchers and grenades.

Deathmatch Island will skydive into a Backerkit campaign on October 17th, offering up digital editions of the game in PDF and Roll20 formats, as well as a hardback version of the 216-page book. An expected release date is yet to be confirmed.

Read this next