There definitely appears to be plenty to do and, although guided by quests, players will have a lot of freedom to focus on what they enjoy.
Developer Singularity 6’s Palia is a free-to-play fantasy life-sim MMO, aimed at eschewing the traditional combat elements in favour of cozy community. Ahead of its PC beta starting today, RPGamer was given the opportunity to spend a few hours with a build of the game and get an introduction to its vibrant and welcoming world.
The game begins with players creating their own character, and are able to select from a decent selection of appearance options and a variety of outfits. After this, they are thrust into the game’s world, appearing in almost a puff of smoke within some ancient ruins in front of the scientist-slash-archaelogist Jina. They quickly learn that they are not the only humans to come appeared in this new world, but that prior to this humanity had been long gone, with the world primarily populated by purple-skinned people called the Majiri. Fortunately, the Majiri are a highly welcoming race and quickly offer to help players get set up in their new world.
The opening few hours are all about setting up Palia’s gameplay mechanics and features while introducing many of the NPCs players can interact with. The main story beat primarily concerns helping Jina to investigate some of the ruins that humanity has left behind, as well as the mystery of why they are there. There are various barriers that players will need to get past; the first involves opening a door using a relic battery and solving a quick puzzle, before reaching a new area that they’ll need a glider to traverse. In the game’s current state, the player character feels like a blank slate, there’s no inquiring into any potential pasts or skills, but players can imprint some personality through a selection of responses within conversations.
Palia’s gameplay revolves around completing quests, building up the player’s home, and exploring for resources or other quests. There are eight primary mechanics or skills at play: fishing, cooking, gardening, mining, hunting, bug catching, foraging, and furniture making. Each of these skills uitilises a different tool, given to players by appropriate townspeople as part of the introductions. The exceptions are furniture making and cooking, which make use of facilities installed in the player’s home. These tools can be readily switched between at any time, and will need to be upgraded by players; for example, the starting axe can fell bushes and saplings easily enough but won’t work on larger trees. Player growth is measured by their level in each particular skill, with experience granted each time they use it, and new progress unlocked by advancing these skills. Eating food gives players an amount of focus, which is used automatically to grant experience boosts when using skills.
Each player receives their own personal plot of land in an instanced area near the town they initially appear in. The first tasks are to clear some space and gather some resources so they can put down their first shelter — a tent — and set up a few facilities like a campfire. Players start out with only a small area available to build or place items upon, but the game makes it clear that they’ll be able to unlock enough space to put down a substantial homestead. The mechanics for each tool are generally easy to get to grips with, although bug hunting proved to be more frustrating and nebulous than the others. There definitely appears to be plenty to do and, although guided by quests, players will have a lot of freedom to focus on what they enjoy, especially if they can come together with others.
With the limited time spent with the game, other than seeing a few other press members wandering around, I didn’t get to properly sample the multiplayer elements and how they can relate to the story or questing. Neither did I really see how players can foster relationships with the game’s NPCs and the events related to that. It did, however, make it clear that players can build up relationships with an immediate gauge showing the level of relationship, as well as noting that conversations had with them raised it, as well as options to give gifts. The game also makes it apparent which NPCs players can potentially build a romantic relationship with once their initial bonding has reached a certain point.
It’s not just the people that make Palia feel welcoming, the visuals and general vibe just makes it a thoroughly pleasant place to be in. Players will soon be able to venture out into further pastures beyond the initial village, so there appears to be plenty of exploration to be had and resources to found across the game. In the preview build there didn’t appear to be any in-game restrictions associated with being free-to-play, with the primary cash shop offering appearing to revolve primarily around cosmetic items. There persistent world is also quite friendly, not punishing players for being absent at any rate; for example, crops need to be fully watered to keep growing over time, but will not wither if not tended to. There are few areas that could help get players introduced a bit more; the game doesn’t give any proper guidance on how to earn money, which is needed for a couple of the early quests that oddly enough give players a rebate afterwards.
From the few hours I’ve spent with the game, Palia appears to have all the tools it need to attract fans of the life sim genre. Its world is vibrant and pleasant to be in, and there’ll be plenty of things for players to do when the game launches for PC and Nintendo Switch later this year. Those looking to participate in the game’s beta phases can sign-up now on the game’s official website.
Disclosure: This article is based on access to a build of the game provided by the publisher.