Brave New World

By | December 8, 2021

Sometimes we discover things by chance, frankly we’d probably have no idea this existed before stumbling on a Twitter conversation, but one of the great things about running this Bar is that I can signal boost something worthwhile.

And so we come to New World on Netflix, a new Korean variety/reality show. In it, six celebs are transported to a beautiful island of their dreams, everyone gets an abode tailored to what they said they wanted. The island has various landmarks and points of interest – the feeling is actually a bit Zelda-esque.

On Day 1 the contestants meet at the Bistro, which can apparently cook anything in the world, and then told what is happening – basically over the next six days they’ll take part in various adventures around the island, the object being to earn virtual currency, Nyang. Luxury costs, so they’ll need to earn Nyang to get the most of their stay on the island, but anything they’ve got at the end of the stay can be converted into real life cash money. Their phones can also send each other money and message each other.

And so the fun begins. An AI called Holo appears and sends them off on their first adventure. To celebrate the new arrivals, ten “events” have been set up around the island. It transpires that each of these events yields a box for a ‘winner’ – a 100% chance at 10m Nyang, or a 50% chance at 100m Nyang – they stick their phone on one of the two stands and it will tell them if they’ve won or not. They get two hours to find all the boxes, punctuated by performances from a Korean idol band, before returning to the Bistro to see how they done.

One more twist is that the final box is a “Joker” box which is flying around on a drone and will drop at a set location at a certain time. This box offers a guaranteed 100m Nyang, but if it’s used there will be a secret vote and someone will lose 200m. Cue lots of private messaging and dirty looks around the dinner table.

If that was it, that’d be enough fun for most shows, but there’s an excellent twist which I’ll hide under a cut so you can avoid being spoiled. If you take anything away from this post, take away that it’s worth a watch – it’s a bit The Genius (you may in fact recognise one of the contestants), A bit Fantasy Island, a bit Lost.

So, the person who gets voted to lose the money? They’re secretly offered a chance to turn back the clock two hours completely resetting the game. Everything reverts back to where at was at the start, including the players bank accounts, but all the events and performers play out at double speed so they’ve got half the time. This time, the contestants *know* where the boxes are, they know what needs to be done to win them, they know which ones will yield the big money and they know where the joker will land and the consequences. Needless to say, if the first time round was exploratory, now everyone’s out for themselves. It’s fun!

Adding to the videogamey nature is the “Shadow Store”, a shop which only appears at night but offers the contestants the chance to buy hints and advantages for the adventures that are to come.

There are other fun fillips – someone wins a golf cart to travel around the island with, and they can use it to make money running a taxi service because it’s quite hilly and the island isn’t small.

New episodes go out every Saturday, at time of writing there’s still a few to be released. Get on it!

3 thoughts on “Brave New World

  1. Chris M. Dickson

    (Spoilers for the whole series.)

    Very much to my taste, all in all; I’m not sure I can remember anything in the last couple of years I’ve enjoyed this much – even more than, say, Race Across The World and that was a treat. I consider this to be another attempt to be “a video game brought to life”, but a JRPG rather than anything else.

    The first episode was probably the best, more for the prospect of what the game might be than what it actually turned out to be; there was an element to which the show wasn’t as smart as it thought it was, and a bigger element to which it wasn’t played as excitingly as it might well be. There were a few parts which felt clearly more like show than game, notably in episodes three and six, but whatever. The lottery was a bit of a dud – I thought they were setting up a situation in which someone might use the time leap card to go back after the lottery draw to go and win it, but if the time leap card cost a billion and the prize was “only” 900 million then that wasn’t the plan. Failing that, I thought there might be some clever reasoning by which players might figure out the winning numbers – but, if there was, it was ignored. Was it really just a 1-in-84 shot of winning each time? Not as exciting as it might be if so.

    The whole thing looked gorgeous, and the players looked like they were having fun, and the “play along at home by working out how you’d play the game” was delightful as a consequence. A tiny bit of research reveals that the show was filmed on an island called Oedo Botania, which is available to visit, just about; this article revisits the show in comparison with the author’s visit to the island. (Giant spoilers for the finale at the end, but clearly signposted.) I very much hope for further series.

    As this is a Netflix show, it’s very tempting to wonder whether they might use the same set – but hopefully some at least slightly different gameplay – for other international versions, but given that the world (?) can see it with subtitles, it might be pointless. I very much hope for further series, and more exciting and silly ideas, in the future.

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  2. Brig Bother Post author

    I finished this last night. I think it’s a shame ep 2 feels like a bit of a comedown after the delights of episode 1 (although not a complete washout by any means), and the meteorite chase had some quite fun moments but wasn’t really doing it for me, I found the show really took off again after episode four – really enjoyed the Real Estate game, reckon you could make a format out of that alone, and I think this was the point I decided I really liked the cast, which helps the rest of the series (which is also tremendous fun) go down well.

    Without being too spoilery, really excited that the end seemed to set up season two.

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