Netflix's Squid Game, a South Korean drama series, has become an internet sensation for its Hunger Game-esque, hyper-violent narrative. It has caught the attention of international fans for its exceptional storyline and incredible plot twists. However, there are many of you who wanted an honest review of the individual games in this series, so be sure to keep scrolling downwards ;)
Warning: There are a couple of spoilers in this article about the games that are played throughout the series, a couple of significant scenes and main character deaths. So if you don't want to witness any spoilers, come back when you're ready.
Synopsis: Storyline & Plot
Squid Game revolves around cash-strapped people who have been invited to participate in a series of children's games to win a whopping prize of 40 million dollars. There are 6 games in total over the course of 6 days, and every player must sign a contract to agree with the rules of the games. Sounds pretty favorable, doesn't it? Well, it does until you realize that there's a catch: if you lose, you die. Oh and also, there are 465 people who are competing against each other in the games. Doesn't sound too great anymore, does it?
The Games: 6 Individual Reviews
As mentioned in the synopsis, Squid Game has a total of 6 games throughout the entire series. Each game is based on a kids' game that the players might have encountered at some point in their childhood. The first game is Red Light and Green Light, the second game is cutting honeycomb cookies without breaking them, the third game is a tug of war, the fourth is a game of marbles, the fifth is walking across a glass bridge and finally, the sixth game is Squid game. The prize money was said to be revealed only after the first game.
1. Red Light & Green Light:
Red Light, Green Light is a game where a Korean Annabel Doll closes her eyes and, after chanting "Red Light, Green Light", turns around. When she turns around, everyone must be frozen. If they proceed to move even an inch, the motion sensor will sense their movements and they will be eliminated.
Personally, I felt that this game was such a simple one to pass through IF everyone knew what they were truly signing up for. The part that allowed this game to eliminate a large number of players is the fact that it begins the entire "eliminating" process. After the first person died, it took a while for the others to understand what "you will be eliminated if you mess up" meant. Once the players understood what was going on, hysteria broke out. Everyone started running from fear and began dying, as well as knocking over others and killing them in the process. Over 200 people were killed in the first game, which is crazy!!
It was honestly a complete shock to me that Song Gi-hun survived throughout the entire chaos, even though he was obviously the main protagonist. Kang Sae-Byeok was already displaying her bad a** attitude as she progressed quickly across the field. Sang-woo proved his "loyalty" to Gi-hun by providing the same strategy to survive the game. And the old man? He was one of the first to cross the line, even after seeing people die right in front of him! He's just a pro player....right? Totally not suspicious.
2. Honeycomb Cookie Cutting
The Honeycomb cookie (a.k.a the Dalgona cookie) cutting scene became iconic, definitely on social media at least. The game requires the remaining players to line up against one of 4 shapes: a circle, a star, a triangle, and an umbrella. And once they've chosen their selected shape, they must cut it out with a toothpick. However, if it breaks in the process, they will be eliminated. And if they don't cut it within the given time, they will also be eliminated.
This game threw me off, and I was pretty sure the old man or Ali wouldn't make it because they weren't in the best positions. Sang-woo deceiving Gi-hun did make me quite upset, but the guy is smart! You got to give him that credit! However, after Gi-hun had survived the first game, I was confident that they weren't going to kill him off for breaking a cookie. So the main protagonist survives by being the main protagonist.
Kang Sae-byeok, as usual, gave her best shot and was able to make it through (ain't nobody killing her off for breaking a cookie, that's just injustice). The tattooed thug (Deok-su) and the curly-haired creepy lady (Mi-nyeo) cheated on the game with Mi-nyeo's lighter, and I was quite surprised that they weren't caught. I thought the games were supposed to be fair and all -_-
3. Tug Of War
Now, after the third game was announced, most of the players were aware it might be game over, especially since tug of war is a team sport that requires strength. Each team had to have 10 people and the first instinct was to reject any women since they weren't considered very strong (Tell that to Kim Bok-joo or Do Bong Soon losers!)
Gi-hun's team consisted of Sang-woo, The Old Man, Sae-byeok, Ali, Ji-young, the freaky curly-haired lady (Mi-nyeo), a faithful sinner, and another misfortunate bloke. They weren't the most confident team and as soon as it was their turn to play, luck had almost vanished from sight. They were completely hopeless until the old man provided them with strategies and techniques from his childhood experiences.
This scene was, in my opinion, the tensest scene throughout. It was a true war among the competing teams and there is NO mercy presented. The tattooed thug (Deok-su) made sure that he assembled the toughest and manliest team, thus ending his "brief relationship" with Mi-nyeo and destroying anybody that comes his way. It was truly pure luck that Gi-hun's team didn't have to compete against Deok-su's. Overall, the tension and stress this scene gave me still keeps me on the edge of my seat.
I'm crying. I'm literally crying and I haven't even started talking about this game. So please be warned of the spoilers and the many foreshadowed deaths that are yet to come in this game.
Before this game was "announced", all remaining players from the previous game were asked to select a partner. Sang-woo partnered up with Ali. Sae-byeok wandered around for a bit but eventually paired up with Ji-young. Gi-hun looked around for a reliable and strong partner but eventually ended up with the pitiful Old Man. Deok-su grabbed onto the strongest man he could find, and Mi-nyeo remained partnerless till the very end (thanks to the cheating doctor)!
In my opinion, this was one of the saddest games out of all the games in this series. Once it was announced that partners would be playing their own marble games against each other, my heart broke. It was especially crying for Ali and Sang-woo. It was obvious one of them would definitely die, but the fact that Sang-woo had tricked Ali to win tore me apart. He had no choice, but Ali was so pure-hearted that it hurt a lot. The Old Man's death was also quite sad, but I wasn't as moved since I knew it was going to happen to keep Gi-hun alive. Ji-young's death hurt pretty badly too, especially since the girls had decided to tell each other their stories and bet all the marbles at the last minute.
R.I.P Ali Abdul, Old Man, Ji-young, the wife who had to play her husband, and all others who were killed in this ruthless game.
The Glass Bridge
The way this game worked was that everyone would go in a selected order across a glass bridge with two options: real glass and glass that can carry humans. If you choose the wrong one, you're dead. Before the game was revealed, players were instructed to choose a number between 1 to 16. And in no time, two players were left to choose between 1 and 16, and one of them was obviously Song Gi-hun.
Luckily for Gi-hun, he ends up getting 16 (the last in order to proceed). Once the game was revealed, people were falling and dying in seconds and there was almost a time limit that was running on the side. If you don't make it across before the time ends, then the bridge will explode and you'll be blown up into pieces.
This game literally blew my mind, and it was also the time when the "special V.I.Ps" were introduced. However, what truly got me was the death of Deok-su and Mi-nyeo. The curly-haired woman never impressed me, but when I saw the way she killed Deok-su along with herself, I was truly grateful. It's about time we had gotten rid of that toxic "couple". I wasn't even that surprised when Sang-woo, Sae-byeok (the queen) and Gi-hun had survived. That was quite predictable.
Alas, we've arrived at the final game of the show: Squid Game.
Spoiler/ heartbreak alert: Kang Sae-byeok, our protagonist at heart, dies because of a deep wound from the shattering glass at the glass bridge explosion. However, she was actually killed by Sang-woo before she could be treated for her wounds. We shall love her forever and hope the best for her dear brother.
After the death of Sae-byeok, I was heartbroken. She truly stole the show from my perspective, but I felt like she died too soon. Much of the audience felt empty on the inside after Sae-byeok had died, as if something was missing. It truly did hurt, but the final game must go on.
The final game is Squid game, and it is played between Sang-woo and Gi-hun. It's a little bit of a long story, but in the end, it should be obvious that Gi-hun will be winning in the most dramatic way possible. I honestly thought he didn't deserve such a win because he's truly one of the most pathetic characters I've ever seen, even though he's a softy.
Song Gi-hun ends up with 40 million dollars and does provide for Sae-byeok's brother and Sang-woo's mother. It is also discovered that the Old Man is the master behind all of this. No wonder he was uncomfortably suspicious during every moment of the drama, he just happened to be the guy who thought of it!
Conclusion & Overall Review
Overall, I loved this drama and it definitely deserves all the recognition and praise it's receiving. Since it was an individual game review, I didn't get to mention Wi Ha-Joon's role as Hwang Jun-ho (our beloved detective who sneaks in to find his mission brother). He absolutely outdid himself, and his last scenes were quite heart-breaking as well. In the end, this drama never failed to impress me and I've seen it around 3 times already! It's truly a masterpiece and I recommend it to everyone!