Let The Games Begin
Squid Game is the latest k-drama on Netflix, revolving around a group of unsuspecting victims trying their hardest to win large sums of money. It’s utterly enthralling and features an eclectic cast of characters.
If you’ve finished watching this one and are looking for alternatives – fret not! We’ve combed through the archives and saved you the hassle with our top 10 picks for alternate viewing.
To keep things simple for skim-readers we’ve added what similarities these have.
Of course for all the shows we’ve reviewed, we’ve also added a handy link so you can check out our full thoughts on that series and see if it’s something you want to invest your time with.
So without further ado, we present 10 TV shows that should whet the appetite when you’ve finished streaming Squid Game.
Similarities – Big money in games
If you’re looking for an utterly engrossing and gripping drama revolving around a game played for money, Liar Game is your ticket.
The show revolves around trusting, gullible Nao who suddenly finds herself participating in the mysterious Liar Game. This sees players issued large sums of money which the others have to cheat them out of it. While a few get rich, the rest end up debt-ridden for life so there’s some incredibly high stakes here.
Nao teams up with genius swindler Shinichi Akiyama and together they find themselves sucked deeper into this game. But is there a twist in the tale? You’ll have to watch to find out!
Similarities – Character drama
Kakegurui is as bizarre as it is entrancing, although this gambling inspired anime does fall into many predictable tropes along the way.
The story follows Yumeko as she arrives at Hyakkaou and immediately becomes entangled in the world of gambling. Alongside worrysome Ryota (Griffin Burns), the 12 episodes revolve around the two characters working together through various gambling matches with different members of the student council until the inevitable climactic battle with the President.
The visuals are great, the soundtrack excellent and the actual gambling and various games depicted are interesting and rife with tension.
Similarities – Sci-Fi & Elimination games
Featuring a bleak, dystopian future and a Hunger Games-esque premise, Netflix’s first Brazilian show could be mistaken for simply playing copycat with what’s come before.
However, The 3% is not one to miss. With a conclusive four-season arc, there’s no danger of this one being left incomplete and the blend of mystery and sci-fi elements are definitely worth watching.
The story takes place in a bleak vision of Brazil in the future, with the world divided between those who have and those who have not. The 3% refer to the lucky few isolated away from the ravaged mainland and living in paradise. The rest of the people live in squalor, fighting to survive. Every year a competition begins to choose 2 lucky people to join those elite numbers. Only, they’ll have to run the gauntlet first.
With a rebel force operating in the shadows and lots of interesting ideas about class divides, 3% touches on some intriguing themes after a relatively tepid first season, making for quite an absorbing watch.
Similarities – Every Man For Themselves
When it comes to missed opportunities, no franchise comes close to The Purge. After a myriad of lacklustre films, The Purge franchise sets its sights on the small screen for a 2 season stab at delivering a story worthy of its interesting premise.
While the first season does squander its potential, the second is actually a surprisingly gripping affair, revolving around four separate groups of people banding together to try and survive Purge night; an event where all crime is legal for 24 hours.
If you’re in the mood for something dramatic and tense, given the anthological nature of this one you should skip the first season completely and jump straight into the second.
Alice In Borderland
Similarities – Life or death games
Alice In Borderland feels like a colourful, vibrant patchwork of different shows and films. There’s elements of 28 Days Later, Sword Art Online, The Purge, Saw and even live-action anime here too.
The premise is simple and revolves around the hook of a group of kids stuck inside a weird alternate-reality world. Deadly games of life and death are played in exchange for playing cards, which are referred to as visas in this twisted dystopian world.
The numbers on each card correspond to the number of days you have left to live. The more cards you collect, the more days you can survive. With a possible game-master pulling the strings, kids are killed off in quick succession for either expired visas or by dying inside the games.
This is about as close as you could get to Squid Game’s premise!
Sword Art Online
Similarities – Game world
Well if you’re looking for something close to Squid Game’s premise – you should find enough to like in Sword Art Online. This anime does suffer from some of the usual tropes you’d expect, but for the most part it makes for a really enjoyable – and highly popular – series.
In its simplest form, Sword Art Online is set in the year 2022 where thousands of people become trapped inside a new virtual MMORPG. Among them is lone wolf player, Kirito. Determined to try and escape, he works hard to try and beat the game before it subsequently beats him.
The actual world building is pretty good and the constant twists across each season keeps things engaging and unpredictable. Where the show is less original however, comes from Kirito himself who really leans into that “Gary Stu” trope of being over-powered. Still, despite that there’s enough meat in this anime to make it worth watching.
Memories Of The Alhambra
Similarities – Sci-Fi & Mysterious game
Split across 16 episodes, Memories Of The Alhambra is a highly engrossing sci-fi drama full of romance, mystery and action. Despite an overuse of flashbacks and a slow pace hanging over early parts of the series, this Korean drama is quite the rollercoaster ride.
Unfortunately that rollercoaster ends with a pretty devastating finale, leaving multiple threads open and a disappointing feel preventing re-watches. Why then is it on this list?
Well, to be fair parts of this drama are really compelling with a Sword Art Online vibe running throughout the story. The soundtrack is also incredible and Hyun-Bin completely owns his role.
Aside from the disappointing end, Memories Of The Alhambra is still an enjoyable ride worth taking if you haven’t already.
Similarities – Sci-Fi & Morality Plays
Black Mirror is still the go-to for most people looking for a dark slice of sci-fi. While the later episodes do wane in quality, there’s no denying that some of the early episodes are absolutely fantastic. In its simplest form, this dark cautionary tale about technology comes straight from the mind of Charlie Brooker.
From VR games gone wrong to the bizarre satirical world of political personalities, Black Mirror remains one of the best modern-day Twilight Zone replacements.
With an uneasy dread clinging to a lot of the episodes and plenty of social commentary to boot, this one’s a solid choice and one you should absolutely check out if you haven’t already.
W: Two Worlds
Similarities – Parallel Worlds
Armed with a creative premise and leaning in hard on the sci-fi/fantasy vibes, W is a series whose strengths lies in its unpredictability. The “W” to which this drama pertains comes from the clash between two worlds, the real world and an alternate universe inside a web-toon.
As the action turns toward the fantastical web-toon world, this Korean drama really starts to come into its own and deliver something wholly original.
While the rules of this world are explained, the characters grow with each passing episode and each chapter adds something new and interesting to the fold. It’s an unpredictable thrill ride from start to finish that will have you guessing right the way through to its climax.
Although the final few episodes are a little rushed and wobbly, it’s easy to look past that in the wake of such great writing done prior to that. If you’re looking for one of the best sci-fi k-dramas out there, look no further.
Similarities – Game-Show
Takeshi’s Castle is the Japanese version of Wipeout and it’s not only absolutely brutal – it’s absolutely hilarious. The show itself basically adds English commentary to the physical Japanese game-show Fûun! Takeshi Jô from 1986 – and Craig Charles does an amazing job on the narration.
As a game show, the premise is simple. 100 contestants are thrown through a series of different grueling challenges, ranging from the brutal (stepping stones that are a mix of real rock and inflatables) to the bizarre (human pins in a big bowling game). While very few people actually win this, the absurdity and hilarious commentary make this a must-watch.
So there we have it, our 10 TV show alternatives to watch when you’re finished watching Squid Game on Netflix.
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!