Palia Early Impressions

A cozy MMO worth your time this year.

by Gordon Bicker
Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Palia is a community sim MMO which is the first title to be released by the development studio, Singularity Six. To “deliver deeper, more meaningful experiences” is one of the mission statements for the studio and upon my dive into Palia for the first time, I wanted to make sure that statement was shown to be true throughout the world.

Under 30 minutes into my early experience, and the taste of that “meaningful experience” was already felt. After creating your character and getting through the introduction, you will be shown a glimpse of the lands, similar to the emerging from a vault in the Fallout series, and seeing what awaits you beyond. I was ready to dive into the exploration of Palia after seeing the beautiful world and other online players running toward it.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Palia’s character creation system is highly inclusive and clearly has had a lot of thought put into how it all works. For example, when you start the game, you will be given the option to choose from a “body type” instead of any specific gender. Overall this consideration of language encourages character expression and the ability to express one’s own identity — the clothing choices are also highly effective, I must say!

Gameplay, Features, and Skills of Palia

The overall gameplay has a familiar feeling to many other life simulators involving foraging, crafting, and so forth. Within a short space of time, you will already be given a plot of land to call your own and build upon through a handy placement system. During this section of the game, I had occasional framerate drops but this could have been down to my own internet connection; it didn’t detract from the game experience too much.

There is also an “Accomplishments” menu in Palia which act as achievements you can gather relating to various features of the game. The completionist inside me was already wanting to level everything up. Before long I found myself simply wandering around the world as a solo player and enjoying the peacefulness in activities/skills such as Fishing.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Palia doesn’t punish you for wanting to go off and do your own thing early on instead of following the main quests. Features like bug/insect catching, hunting, and cooking are or can be unlocked just a short while into your playthrough — this is effective for keeping players occupied. The bug-catching skill is a personal favorite of mine which has you running around like a Pokemon Trainer and throwing orb-like items at bugs to daze and grab them; it’s very cutesy and hilarious to experience.

Inclusivity and Accessibility

Inclusivity through gameplay is also noticeable, with systems like dialogue choices being attached to emotions. A flame icon next to a choice indicates a much more passion-fueled response, for example, and you can tell this by hovering over the icon to get a description of what it means.

Furthermore, Accessibility options will also be arriving at the launch with settings related to color blindness, key remapping, and much more present. There were already a few under-the-hood systems implemented which were excellent choices. Sprinting is automatically a toggle by pressing shift and for those with Motor Impairments, having the toggle active from the start will be extremely helpful.

Related: The Beauty of a Positive Community — An Analysis Through the Lens of Final Fantasy XIV

Overview of the Free-to-Play Model for Palia

Palia is a free-to-play game, so having as many options available to players will let more come in and experience it. Speaking of other players, throughout the time I spent in Palia, others were kind and chatting away in the easy-to-access side conversation panel. It remains to be seen how the community will evolve with the launch, but there are fledgling roots of a kind-hearted community already there.

With the game being free-to-play, you may wonder if it is paid to win in any way. It isn’t, and this is because no core gameplay features are locked under any paywalls. Instead, the developers have openly confirmed that certain cosmetics will be monetized which is common for this particular game’s model. This means you can experience the world of Palia at your own pace without worrying about any players gaining an advantage over you by way of real cash.

Environment, Music, and Art Style

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Palia’s world feels like a breath of fresh air for the community/life-sim experience and it is a refreshing MMO take on the main genre. It isn’t only the world which ties all of the gameplay experiences together, but instead, also the dialogue you can have with the Villagers and the music, which made me feel as though I was having a day out at a farm with the wind lightly breezing against me.

Related: Palia Announced – A New MMO that Combines BOTW, Animal Crossing, and Stardew Valley

The art style is one of the factors that make the environment entrancing to explore every step of the way. Even each flower resonates in aesthetics beautifully with the surroundings, and every model looks as though it has had passion poured into it with no shortage of care and attention. I believe, without a doubt, Palia will become a home to many who want to immerse themselves in a Disney Dreamlight Valley-style MMO.


Image: Attack of the Fanboy

At its heart, Paila is a community sim that ultimately could have (on a smaller scale) a similar cultural impact to what Animal Crossing did when it first launched. In Palia’s case, this would be thanks to the online interactions with others via the virtual sim but that will take a lot of fostering of the Palia community. This is definitely a game that will have a long history ahead of it if successful, and from my early observations, it looks set to be on the right track.

- This article was updated on August 3rd, 2023

About The Author

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Gordon is a contributing writer for Attack of the Fanboy, a Games Design (BA) Honours student, and a Video Game Ambassador. He has been writing at AOTF for over a year and a half, with four years of games writing experience for outlets like Green Man Gaming. When he's not busy, he'll no doubt be experiencing games, writing poetry, playing guitar, adventuring, or happily starting a new Skyrim playthrough! As an avid Final Fantasy XIV player, he also hopes that you'll gain a warm feeling from his community stories. Gordon has reported on Fallout 4 and Destiny 2, whose favorite genres include action RPGs, MMORPG's and First Person Shooters but is always experimenting with many other types of games.