Spoilers for Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion DLC
Splatoon touches on past. In collectables in flavor dialogue. We learn there was an actually war where Octolings and Squids fought. Not over fashion but over land rights. We know the Octolings are running out of power so they steal the Zapfish and in its your characters job to retrieve them. What happens after you retrieve them? Who knows? You beat the short single player and now its onto the multiplayer. Single Player was never the main attraction to Splatoon for most. Until recently when the Octo Pass expansion released.
You play as one of the Octolings you’ve been fighting. You have no memory of who you are but a telephone speaking like my grandmother trying to use slang tells you to retrieve 4 “Thangs”. So you can reach the promise land. Which you figure to be Inkopolis. So you go through this subway station clearly inspired by the New York subway. Along the way Marina and Pearl the newscasters in Splatoon 2 help you out.
Before that though Splatoon 2 only touches on the past. It clearly paints things with a broad strokes wanting you to get allusions to real world things. Captain Cuttlefish who joins you in the DLC multiple times talks about his dislike of Octolings. Whenever a character calls him out he replies “I Don’t see species.” Then the characters reply with … or just ignore him. Hes a raciest old man and they let him be. Marina also touches on the oppressions Octoarian society. We never learn what is actually going on in Octoarian society. Just that apparently squid society is better. It hints at the world. But never gives you the answers.
The final boss of that game is an A.I made by a human who is meant to help the next generation of whatever comes after humans. But then after it sees inklings go to war with octolings “Over minor genetic deviations, and being obsessed with trivial fashion”. It created your character using a sludge of supreme DNA from other test subjects. You an octoling. Who have been portrayed as an oppressed race who has to steal power from the inklings. It never goes further.
Splatoon is plastered with black culture. The urban environments plastered with graffiti. The style your character wears. In the DLC Marina and Pearl are dressed as Biggie and 2pac. Its usually described by people as cool but its black. Which has always been in the back of my mind. Because well it is cool. That’s the thing. Splatoon only touched on its world. That I’ve always enjoyed the snippets. But the Octo Expansion tries to touch on politics. In some ways intentional and maybe not some other ways.
Splatoon 2 they introduced Grizzco Industries. Which is a part time job your inkling can pick up. You work for this weird ass corporation who puts your life on the line. You collect these eggs and get a paycheck for your work. You get hints they are up to something. That they are just using you for some other reason. It’s like basic description of oh big corporation using the worker. But it’s never expounded on besides from that.
There’s these magazines in the little cramped subway car that your character hangs out in. When you go up to them you get the prompt to imagine Inklopolis. Which is just a way for you to get back to the multiplayer. But like what the fuck. Your character woke up with no memory. With an old man who hates you because of your race. Who tells you about this amazing place. Above the ground. Where you want for naught and can just fight over if orange juice should not have pulp or not. Its never goes deeper than that.
And you encounter other sea creatures in the subway car. Who are all going somewhere. You can’t talk to them besides for one. But Splatoons world hosts a variety of other races besides Inklings. Who live underground. Who have to ride this shitty subway everyday. Maybe also hoping to one day maybe get to the top. Where you spend all you cash on clothing. And that’s what your character wants to. To go to the promised land.
You probably were never meant to think this deep about Splatoon. The lore is a fun inclusion. I like the Splatoon stories because it gives you more time with the characters that litter the world. It delivers on those moments. There’s a chat log where Mariana and Pearl share Marianas first demo. Its so rough. It’s backed with the default snare drums in a music program. Those are the moments I love. The lore was a bonus. But now that they dove a little deeper not that much but just a little. It’s causing me to ask these questions. Splatoon clearly has something it wants to say and I have no idea what its saying to an extent. We have the ultimate DNA lifeform being an octoling. Who again are portrayed as an oppressed race. Then we have about a corporation who uses its workers to achieve some evil scheme in the background. Splatoon paints it world with a broad brush. And I just wish they would fill in the details.