The resurrection plant is raising zombies from the ground for a brand-new action-adventure with audiences at the wheel. A role-playing hack and slash based on Netflix’s hit South Korean series Kingdom is in active development over at Action Square, a press release from Tara Edwards and Erin Christopher of Wonacott Communications (via Gamasutra) reveals on Friday. A cross between Dynasty Warriors and The Walking Dead, KINGDOM: The Blood is an upcoming third-person RPG that takes apart the show’s central maxim — “inheriting the royal bloodline” — and reinterprets it into a blistering survival horror for fans of medieval Korea. The game will allow cross-play between mobile and PC.
Described as a vast open-world with high-definition visuals, KINGDOM: The Blood recreates the harrowing conditions of Netflix’s Kingdom in crisp, heart-pounding 3D. Action Square is using Unreal Engine 4, the same software by Epic Games used to develop many newer generation titles including Little Nightmares, Sea of Thieves, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Street Fighter V, and the Final Fantasy VII remake. The game will reportedly bring on the gore and employ motion capture technology to simulate a feeling of dread and photorealism. Think Detroit: Become Human, but with zombies. Action Square is working with Korean drama company AStory on the plot specifics, which right now remain firmly lock and key. Obviously, KINGDOM: The Blood will feature the plague of 14th century Joseon Korea centerstage, and perhaps the same Crown Prince Lee Chang (played in the show by Ju Ji-hoon of Princess Hours fame), but whether this is a prequel or a sequel, or a sidequel involving a minor character, remains to be seen.
Action Square released a short teaser to accompany the new Kingdom game’s press release, courtesy of Netflix. An unidentified Joseon man can be seen unsheathing a military-grade Geom (or Korean short sword) as he gazes upon the Korean imperial capital and rows upon rows of zombies. Check it out below:
KINGDOM: The Blood is not Netflix’s first attempt at a video game based on a preexisting IP. The streamer has made its long-overdue foray into the medium with several acclaimed tie-ins to Stranger Things and Narcos, with more on the way. In-house developers leveraged years of practice into 2018’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an interactive choose-your-own-adventure special that could be played in the comfort of your tablet or smart TV. Executives have reportedly made gaming a priority for future projects, so expect more games like Kingdom in the coming years. Executives are rumored to have struck a deal with Sony to develop connecting video games for the PlayStation; in all likelihood, the rumors are true, as they line up perfectly with what COO and Chief Product Officer Greg Peters told Deadline’s Peter White in April.
Still, it’s been a while since we had a zombie hack and slash. Not counting sandbox survival games like 7 Days To Die and Last Day On Earth or shoot-em-ups with the occasional melee like Left 4 Dead, the last true slash ‘em up was OneeChanbara and Undead Knights, both released during the 2000s. And the former is just gratuitous fanservice, hardly the type to match up to a story of Kingdom’s caliber. With that said, the demand for zombie HnS is stronger than ever and Netflix was decidedly clever to have gone for this particular subgenre. KINGDOM: The Blood will surely fill a void left unusually hollowed out by past developers capitalizing on games centered around a zombie apocalypse. And we’ve had plenty; how come nobody until Netflix has ever considered a version of Dynasty Warriors with Robert Kirkman’s undead in it? After all, there’s no greater high than being able to cut past swarms of zombies yourself.
Netflix’s Kingdom tells the story of Crown Prince Lee Chang, part-time royal and full-time zombie hunter. His efforts at containing a plague causing inhabitants of his father’s kingdom to mutate into zombies forms the crux of the show for two seasons; a third is a limited sidequel called Kingdom: Ashin of the North, centered around the titular Ashin, the heir to a Northern Seongjeoyain village. The show eventually traces the origins of the infection to a resurrection plant capable of ejecting a parasitic worm that can turn people into the undead. Kingdom is set during the historical Joseon period.
The post-apocalyptic period horror show by Kim Eun-hee is based on a Korean manhwa entitled The Kingdom of the Gods, written by Eun-hee and illustrated by Yang Kyung-il.