Squid Game has quickly become a global phenomenon, breaking records at an astounding rate and becoming Netflix’s most popular show of all time. It isn’t hard to see why. The show’s gripping plot, unique death games, and surreal aesthetic are all perfectly executed.
If you’ve finished Squid Game and are desperate for more death game action, here are 10 shows that need to be on your radar.
Based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Snowpiercer follows people struggling to survive terrible odds and oppressive systems. After the world becomes a frozen wasteland, the remnants of humanity take refuge on a constantly-moving train.
The train’s 1,001 carriages quickly end up being segregated by class and several passengers have to fight to overturn the social order while also trying to keep themselves and humanity alive. Dark, atmospheric, and gripping, Snowpiercer shows just how quickly tensions can build and illuminates the horrible things people will do to keep their heads above water, including betraying their core ethics.
9. Alice in Borderland
Another Netflix original, Alice in Borderland, proved extremely popular when it was released in 2020, even if it failed to reach the global smash-hit status of Squid Game.
Based on the manga by Haro Aso, the series follows a group of video game obsessives who somehow end up in an abandoned, almost post-apocalyptic Tokyo. Here, they learn that a shadowy group is forcing them to compete in a series of death games, the difficulty of which is based on playing cards. Players have to win to earn time for their visas, and if they expire, lasers shoot down from the sky and kill them.
An atmospheric sci-fi twist on the death game formula, Alice in Borderland offers a unique story and some fantastic visuals that set it apart from other titles in the genre.
8. High-Rise Invasion
Tsuina Miura’s manga debuted on the Manga Box app in 2013 and quickly built up a dedicated fandom. Then, in February 2021, an anime version of the series arrived on Netflix, giving a whole new audience a chance to enjoy this strange and twisted tale.
High-Rise Invasion follows Yuri Honjou who, after fleeing a strange masked person, finds herself in a weird abandoned building. As she runs to the building’s rooftop, she quickly realizes that she is in a totally abandoned world of high-rise buildings, many of which are connected together by bridges. When she learns that her brother is in the same weird place, Yuri attempts to find him, but soon learns that a group of masked killers is stalking the area, desperate for blood.
High-Rise Invasion is a unique series full of unexpected twists and turns that put a whole new twist on the format. While it lacks the games, High-Rise Invasion gives you all the thrills of Squid Game with its own thrills.
2017’s Re:Mind was tragically overlooked when it first came out, but hopefully the success of Squid Game will make more people check out this series. Re:Mind follows a group of eleven high-schoolers who wake up in a strange European mansion. They soon realize that they’re all chained to the floor by their feet. As they try to work out how to escape, they slowly start to vanish one by one. Gradually they learn that they all share a common past that might explain their strange situation.
Featuring a brilliant, suspenseful plot and a great atmosphere, Re:Mind will keep you guessing for the entire series. While its story is very different from Squid Game’s, the two share a similar tone and atmosphere, making them excellent companion pieces.
Much like Squid Game, Panic looks at how far people will go for money, especially if that money will allow them to escape their unfortunate circumstances. In the tiny town of Carp, Texas, a strange tradition takes place every year in which a group of 23 high school graduates takes part in a contest called Panic. The winner of Panic gets $50,000, which is enough money to escape the small dead-end town.
Panic is extremely dangerous and pushes the contestants to their limits. Those who fail often end up hurt or killed, making the contestants question just how much they’re willing to do to win. The series follows Heather Nill, a girl desperate for money, as she interacts with her family and other contestants only to learn from the horrible fates of several past contestants that Panic is more than it seems.
An utter thrill ride, Panic touches on many of Squid Game’s themes, but rather than the hyper-stylized environments found in Squid Game, Panic feels like it could take place in any small town you know, adding a more chilling edge to the proceedings.
5. Danganronpa: The Animation
Based on the popular series of video games, Danganronpa: The Animation is a fascinating spin on the death game format that is as chilling as it is morbidly stylish. The series is set at the Hope’s Peak Academy, which seeks out students who are at the top of their respective fields. These sixteen students are trapped in the academy by the bear-like machine Monokuma and forced to participate in a series of deadly games.
As an extra twist, if you don’t kill someone, then you’ll be trapped in the building forever. After every murder, a trial is held where the other students try to work out who the murderer was, and whoever they pick is executed. This is just scratching the surface of the story. The games and anime are dense, featuring lots of lore and many subplots that follow the various students and their relationships.
Danganronpa: The Animation might seem weird at first, but those who stick with it are treated to some unique scenarios and fantastic storylines.
Squid Game proves that timing is a crucial part of popularity. Despite being very similar in format, style, and tone, 2016’s 3% was chronically overlooked when it was released on Netflix. This is a crying shame, as the series is fantastic, and many critics argue that it’s better than Squid Game in several ways.
3% is set in an unspecified future where society is divided into two classes. Those who live in the Inland suffer from horrible poverty while those who live on an island called Offshore live in pure luxury. When Inland citizens turn 20, they’re allowed to compete in something called The Process. This is a series of trials that, while simple at first, quickly get more extreme, leading to The Process only having a 3% success rate.
The series is a fascinating look at how society splits into the haves and have nots and examines how perfect communities can quickly turn inward and start to further divide themselves due to human greed. 3% strips away a lot of Squid Game’s visual style and presents an amazingly raw critique of capitalism and how it drives people to take extreme actions.
Gantz is extremely infamous in anime circles, and after watching it, you’ll quickly realize why. Written by Hiroya Oku, the series follows Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato, two high school students who get hit by a train while trying to save a drunk man who has fallen onto the tracks.
When the two wake up in an apartment, they learn that they’re being forced to participate in a game where they have to kill aliens living on Earth. The being behind this game, a strange sphere called the Gantz, gives them a series of powerful weapons and special abilities to help with this. But as they complete missions, they soon learn the truth about their strange situation.
Violent, gory, and stylish, Gantz deserves its infamy. It’s wholly unique and inverts many typical anime tropes. While not a death game in the traditional sense, Gantz shows people being forced to do horrible things to survive and is full of gripping drama.
2. Liar Game
This South Korean television series is based on the manga by Shinobu Kaitani, which has also spawned two other live-action movies, both of which offer a unique take on the source material.
Liar Game follows Nam Da-jung, an innocent student who takes part in a hidden camera audition. They do so well in this audition that they’re invited to compete in a strange reality show called Liar Game. This game is billed as a psychological survival game where players trick and manipulate each other, with the winner getting a massive ₩10 billion prize pool. The losers end up in more debt than they started with. Da-jung, desperate to pay off their debts, agrees to take part in the game, but they quickly find that the other players will do anything to win, forcing Da-jung to play dirty.
Unlike Squid Game, Liar Game is less gory and more psychological, featuring a lot of gambits and trickery as the players try to out-logic each other. This means that the show is much slower but still highly gripping as you try to work out all the plans that are being set in motion.
Nobuyuki Fukumoto’s Kaiji began life as a manga in the pages of Weekly Young Magazine in 1996. It soon got an anime adaptation under the title of Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor, which was produced by legendary animation studio Madhouse.
The series follows Kaiji Itō, a broke young man who lives in Tokyo. Unable to find steady work, Kaiji ends up falling into a depressive spiral. One day a man called Yūji Endō arrives at Kaiji’s home. Yūji tells Kaiji that he is in more debt than he thought, as he co-signed a loan for a coworker, which that coworker then defaulted on. Yūji informs Kaiji that he can spend 10 years paying off the debt or enter an underground gambling tournament on a ship. Kaiji opts for the boat and soon finds that the ship’s rock paper scissors tournament is much more dangerous than it seems.
Kaiji features many of the concepts found in Squid Game, including corrupted versions of simple games and all of the ensuing tension you would expect, while also presenting a gripping character-driven narrative.