My journey in gaming has changed drastically in the last few years, and somehow Singularity 6’s Palia is scratching every itch, new and old! I went from playing action RPGs and MMOs like Skyrim and World of Warcraft to simulators like Stardew Valley and indies like Cult of the Lamb. Something about my busy lifestyle just didn’t give me the time to eat, sleep and breath an MMO like I used to, and I didn’t have the brain power to take on hour-long battles in my favourite games. Stardew stopped satisfying my needs, and I was at a loss for what to play.
Enter, Palia, my new hero.
The game takes place in Kilima Village, where you will find all kinds of crazy characters like Jina, Auni, Hassian and Badruu. You materialize in front of Jina and Helka while she is examining some sweet rocks. From there, you’re off to start your new life, and it begins with building on your new plot of land, meeting the villagers and learning the ropes when it comes to all your new skills. The game follows a day/night cycle, and you’ll see plenty of both while you’re playing. You cannot pass time, though, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on things you need to do during daylight hours!
Palia is a simulation game in MMO form, and I couldn’t be happier with how they paired the two together. As you’d expect with most sims, you can farm, decorate your plot, hunt, cook, and forage. Though farming simulators have been done a million times before, the skills in Palia bring new takes on the standard tasks you find in those sorts of games.
For instance, you have to place down a farming plot and can’t just farm anywhere. Once you’ve done that, tilling your soil isn’t a simple point-and-click. You need to essentially rake the plot to clear the whole space before you can plant. What might kill players who love to have everything neat and tidy is the way planting crops works. There are benefits to mixing up your crops rather than grouping them by type. Certain crops benefit others with perks like weed prevention, so make sure to move things around and see what combinations there are.
Fishing is interesting, as it’s similar to games like Stardew Valley, where you need to stay within the green markers to reel your fish in. However, instead of a bar, it’s marked on the water directly, and if you reel while the fish is outside the marker, you risk losing your catch. Building also has a fun twist compared to other games. When you build some items, you are given three recipes to choose from to learn. It’s a great way to grow your library of options.
After you build, you can then expand and decorate your plot. You can place items while walking around or in H mode. I think H mode is more meant for larger items like housing and outdoor items. Though you can place furniture here, you can’t actually see inside your tent or house, so that kind of decorating is best left to normal mode.
Hunting and bug catching I am a bit less keen on, mainly because it often involves chasing down your prey after the first shot, and you need to build smoke bombs and arrows to keep up with it. When you miss, you cannot pick your items back up, which is something I wish were an option—so many wasted items.
As you level up your skills, you’ll be able to buy recipes for stronger tools from the appropriate NPC, but these will cost you. I found it a bit of a time-sink to hunt and forage for items to sell in order to buy new recipes to level up my gear and make new items, but that is the MMO life, the constant grind. The grind for materials in Palia is a lot more enjoyable than other games, as the music and scenery make it a nice, relaxing way to spend your time.
There is no health or combat outside of hunting in Palia. You will not get hurt by characters, animals or even fall damage. I love ripping around the map diving off cliffs from insane heights, only to land in a perfect roll and continue on my way. Eventually, you can get a glider that will stop the falls, but either way, it’s pretty satisfying.
You do have stamina, which is used when climbing. You can’t climb built objects, only natural ones, so you can’t go scaling people’s houses or anything. Palia definitely took some inspiration from The Legend of Zelda with these two features, only removing the fall to your death to make for a less stressful experience.
There is also something called Focus that I recommend you pay attention to. This is a bar in the top left corner by your name that you can fill by eating things you forage or cook. If you’ve ever played WOW, you’ll know about rested XP, and that is kind of how I view Focus. While this bar is green, you’re gaining extra XP in everything you do. Every task will spend a bit of Focus, so you need to keep eating to gain more. It’s always recommended to keep some green on that bar, but there is no penalty if you don’t, aside from no bonus experience.
In Palia, you can also develop relationships with NPCs. While chatting with them, you can see if they are friendly or romanceable, give them gifts, and even find out what gift they’d like the most that week. Obviously, I immediately wanted to romance Hodari—if you meet him, you’ll get it—but for some cruel reason, Singularity 6 decided that he is the one smoke show we can’t make fall hopelessly in love with us!
There is a relationship menu that lets you know your friendship status with each villager. It also lists the items they have asked for that week, so you aren’t stuck remembering what each person said. At different friendship levels, new quests will unlock as well, leaving Palia with plenty of content.
“The community is real in Palia.”
Something that really struck me was how committed Palia is to just being good. One of the first screens you come across shares the “Village Values,” outlining different ways players can be kind to each other. Palia even warns players not to use their real names in the game for safety reasons. This is great to see, especially as a mom, because I can bet some younger gamers will dive into the game. Palia isn’t even out yet and already has a Discord server of almost 150 thousand hopeful players. The community is real in Palia.
The character creation does its best to be inclusive, not referring to specific genders and giving many options for hair, skin colour and more that can reflect a diverse audience. There are attempts in-game to empower women, like with Sifuu, who is known as one of the most powerful monster hunters around, where this sort of role is usually a male character.
Palia feels like World of Warcraft and Fortnite had a baby in terms of visuals. The graphics are incredibly cozy and cute—sometimes making it hard to hunt down creatures. Even the fish are cute! Right now, there are still some graphical glitches, like running through walls. I’ve also had some issues with needing to be at the exact right angle to interact with things and, occasionally, the compass not working as it should. These are small gripes, though.
Through several playtests, I can attest to how much the team at Singularity 6 has been working on the game and has made huge strides to improve issues already. I ran into some issues with two-part quests glitching. I needed to have 500g, then spend it on something specific, but once I bought it, I no longer had 500g, so the progress was removed. In my second playthrough, this seemed to be fixed, which is always nice to see.
There are some small quality-of-life issues that could use some updates. Right now, while selling items, it will take the whole stack. I would love to see you able to choose how many you sell without having to leave the window, split the stack and go back in. I’d also like to split them by number, not by half. Storage right now is currently based on the number of individual items, not stacks, so if you have 100 stones, your space fills up really quickly, especially if you’re a hoarder like me.
You are able to build more than one chest to upgrade how much you can hold, and the chests are universal, meaning you can open any of them and find all your things. I feel like this should be something you can upgrade instead of build because I will end up with 50 giant chests all over the place, ruining my cozy vibe.
I do like that to craft, you don’t have to run to your chest, pull out what you need, and head to your crafting table. You do have to do this for things like the smelter or cooking over a fire, however. It’d be nice to be consistent across the board.
Here are a few quality-of-life changes I hope to see in Palia in the future:
- The ability to pick up missed arrows/smoke bombs
- Splitting stacks by number, not by half
- Ability to choose how many of something to sell instead of a full stack
- Storage numbers based on stacks, not individual items
- Ability to grow storage without building more chests
- Using the escape key to close
- Notification pop-up to remind you a new day has started
- Fast travel from map instead of signs around town
- Cook more than one of the same dish at a time
None of these issues are game-breaking in any way, and I’m sure they won’t bother many. That being said, I’m coming from an MMO like Elder Scrolls Online, where I would pay a monthly subscription just to have a crafting bag so I could hoard. Also, World of Warcraft, where players are known to make “Bank toons”. I take quality of life very seriously in my games.
So what makes Palia an MMO, though? You aren’t running raids or dungeons here like MMOs you may be used to. To me, the MMO side of Palia is purely for community, friendship and enjoyment. In the social tab, you can request items you’re in need of from friends or random players and fulfill them to help out. I don’t see any payout here aside from being a super cool community, so I’m hoping to see that work out when more players are online.
“Palia lets you play exactly how you want to, and it’s really refreshing…”
You can invite players to your home, where you can edit their permissions to let them cook, build or just hang out! I didn’t get far into the cooking skills in my time with Palia, but during an early preview, I was able to see that there are group components to cooking later on, so I’m very curious to explore that more. You can visit friends or party members, and each person’s permissions are set separately. You can also close off your game or plot to other players if you’re looking for some solo play.
We had a few issues when trying to group up. Occasionally my game would crash when I went to someone else’s plot. When editing things in CTRL mode (while you’re an editor on someone else’s plot, as opposed to H mode when you’re on your own plot), I would try to click an item to move it, and it would choose something completely different and move it around. So, there are still some glitches to work out here.
You can see other players running around your map, hunting or shopping. Something nice is that though everyone sees the same nodes or foraging items, the loot from them is gathered individually. That means if another player takes it, you won’t miss out. This doesn’t extend to bugs or hunting unless your hits are timed together though. Someone can’t loot something you killed or caught.
Singularity 6 has done everything in their power to make Palia the ultimate, laid-back, cozy MMO life simulator. There is so much to do and see, but no sense of urgency. Everything is done in your own time at your own pace. What’s even better is that if you don’t like something—like me and hunting—you don’t have to do it. There are multiple ways to get everything you need.
“Singularity 6 has done everything in their power to make Palia the ultimate, laid-back, cozy MMO life simulator.”
Now to the elephant in the room…Palia is a free-to-play game, so monetization is going to be a thing we need to think about. As of right now, there is an in-game store that is specifically for cosmetic items only. You can buy outfits in bundles or individually, with each item somewhere around 1200 of the purchasable currency and bundles sitting anywhere from 2000 to 5000. The currency is not available to buy yet, so I have no idea what this will cost in dollars. Singularity 6 has said there will be no pay-to-win features, so I am choosing to believe them!
Palia lets you play exactly how you want to, and it’s really refreshing, especially in a world where MMOs are usually so particular about what kind of gear you have, what level you are and more. Though there are still some bugs to work out and some things I would love to see implemented, there is no doubt in my mind that Palia is going to do well. We already have a team of players at CGM just waiting for the open beta!
Palia’s closed beta begins today, with its open beta starting on August 10, 2023. It is a free-to-play game that is available for PC, and Nintendo Switch players can look forward to a console release for the holidays this year. I’d get into Palia as soon as you can, the community is booming, and the game is filled with cozy goodness, and I can’t wait to dive into Kilima Village a little deeper.