Cozy, casual games have grown in popularity with the resurgence of Animal Crossing, so it should come as no surprise that competitors are stepping up for a slice of the pie. In my Palia first impressions, I'll show you why this new free-to-play MMO is something that you simply cannot miss.
Just over two years ago, a new game developer called Singularity 6 revealed its first game to the world: Palia, a massively multiplayer online "community sim." It immediately caught my attention as a fan of survival games and farming RPGs alike. I got to spend some time in this new world ahead of its closed beta -- and I love what I've seen so far.
Skills to Pay the Bills
Palia is, in part, an MMORPG that is based around the kind of activities that are normally side activities in other MMOs. Mining, fishing, and hunting animals are core parts of your experience. Even the simple act of crafting new furniture for your home is considered a core skill and a fundamental part of gameplay.
Each of Palia's eight skills has its own mechanics, tools to unlock, and unique rewards.
All of these skills can make you money or serve as a vehicle for crafting decorations, though some are better at one thing and worse at another. Fishing, for example, isn't going to give you much in the way of cool new furniture, but it can give you the money you need to buy things for your housing plot.
Each of Palia's eight skills has its own mechanics, tools to unlock, and unique rewards. Skills such as foraging and mining are fairly straightforward, but hunting, fishing, and bug catching will provide ample challenge for veterans of farming RPGs and similar games.
There are no monsters to slay or multi-hour dungeons to slog through; Palia is a game wholly devoid of the combat you'd typically see in an MMO. There's one clear metric that shows just how important these activities are in Palia: your character level is simply the sum of your eight skills.
Collecting and Construction
Naturally, there isn't much sense in collecting all kinds of junk without having something to use it for. Your housing plot is where you'll store your crafting stations -- one character quips that you'll create a "noisy industrial nightmare" -- but it's also where you're most able to express yourself.
Once you've built your home, you can pick the whole thing up and move it around while leaving its contents undisturbed. There are options to change the flooring, wallpaper, and window placement. And, naturally, there are hundreds of potential decorations to unlock.
There is always something fun to do in Palia.
It feels like they took a page straight out of Animal Crossing or The Sims. You can see the influence of these casual gaming juggernauts in other areas, too; there are collection tasks for fishing and hunting, along with unique rewards for successfully acquiring all of the fish or hunting all of the animals in a certain category.
Some processes are time-gated, most notably with the construction of your house. That won't matter much, though -- there is always something fun to do in Palia. I have never once thought, "I have nothing to do," while I've been playing; rather, I had a hard time deciding what to do first.
Palia First Impressions - Final Thoughts
I've spent less than 20 hours in Palia. By my estimation, I've only scratched the surface -- and I'm excited to see what lies ahead.
Singularity 6 has clearly laid the groundwork for future expansions. The skill guild vendors, for example, only had items for the first 10 levels of each skill available in their stores, but "Accomplishments" -- Palia's version of achievements -- have rewards for getting each skill to Level 50. The progression for these skills is clear and fair.
We're only at the very beginning of Palia.
The fundamental gameplay is good, but there's one final element I haven't touched on: community. There's a friends list, a guild system (called, rather appropriately, a "Community"), and the ability to party up with any random person you meet in the world.
It's tremendously easy to invite other people to your housing plot to show off your home. You can even give another player editor authority and allow them to help you decorate or work on gardening. It has the same vibe as Animal Crossing's multiplayer -- and with none of the frustrating technical problems.
We're only at the very beginning of Palia -- Version 0.165.0, last I checked. As always, the success of this game will depend on Singularity 6's ability to quickly introduce new content. There's plenty to do in the game right now, though, and anyone who loves Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing will not want to miss this new cozy game.
TechRaptor made our Palia First Impressions using a copy provided by the developer.
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