On paper, Palia can be imagined as “what if the next Story of Seasons was an MMORPG?”. This is a rather interesting angle, especially since this genre is all about “the grind” and getting to the endgame content. I was curious about this as I jumped into this closed beta to see if the developers at Singularity 6 could combine those two worlds.
In Palia, the story begins with you awakening inside mysterious ruins and meeting a young researcher named Jina. According to her, many Humans have been mysteriously transported to the world of Palia, and you, unfortunately, were one of the unlucky bunch. As they attempt to find a way to return you to your world, the Palian residents set you up with a farm plot, where you’ll at least stay until then.
You’ll be greeted with the character creation screen upon starting the game. And besides facial and body types, you can customize your character however you like, with a vast assortment of clothing and hairstyles to choose from. The only things you cannot change are more precise measurements, such as hand and feet size or your character’s height.
In Palia, you have eight different types of skills, and each of them has a “Skill Master.” The more you do a particular activity, the more the skill level will increase, which is reminiscent of Rune Factory’s systems. Leveling up those skills will unlock additional recipes or access to better equipment.
Furthermore, you can also accept several different quests from the NPCs in the village and obtain rewards such as Recipes to craft even more items and, perhaps significantly, get closer to the villagers. Because once you’ve reached a certain amount of friendship with who you like, let’s just say you can tie the knot and find your special someone.
The UI in Palia feels highly intuitive, mainly if you’re used to most MMOs. But instead of blasting you with many icons, you can slowly settle in and learn its shortcuts through the built-in tutorials. My favorite part is how you can hold the R key and quickly switch the tool you’re holding by hovering with your mouse. While I could not get my controller working correctly, it didn’t take too long for me to get used to the keyboard controls.
Next, we have your farm plot, which works in a completely separate instance unique to you. This means other players cannot enter or mess with it unless you grant editing permission. You can also warp back to your plot from anywhere in the world from the map once every 30 minutes or interact with a Stable and pay some money to get you back to it.
A big part of Palia is its community aspect. Players who come into your farm plot can be given editing privileges so that you can do several activities together, such as farming and cooking. And here is what makes this interesting, if both of you crow a crop together, you can obtain the same rewards. So if Player A and B grow a Tomato together, it’s not as if Player A harvests it and leaves Player B with nothing.
Palia will be free-to-play on launch, and no gameplay is locked behind a paywall. The only form of monetization I’ve seen is through cosmetics, where you can purchase Palia Coins with real money and use those to get clothing for your avatar via the in-game Shop. But that’s about it! There’s no gacha system, and the sets you purchase have that same clothing in multiple colors.
Of course, being an MMO still in beta does come with its fair share of issues, the biggest of which I found is the lack of a season system. It would be nice if you could set one of four seasons on your farm, allowing for greater customization, especially given that this instance is unique to yourself. Because there are no seasons, the scenery barely changes.
Another issue is that, at least in my case, Palia kept stuttering sometimes, usually when I got close to a new area. Even after tweaking the graphics settings several times, I was never able to make it truly go away, and considering Palia will also release for the Nintendo Switch, I can’t help but express some concern about this title’s performance on that platform, but I’m optimistic to say that with just a couple optimization patches, this will be fixed.
Palia is looking to be a promising title that will only continue to expand with more content as time passes. I had a great time not having to worry about potential time pressure or the feeling that I must do this or can’t miss that, and I can’t wait to see what the developers at Singularity 6 have planned for this title.
Palia is entering Beta Testing for PC now, with a Nintendo Switch release planned for the end of 2023.
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