stub Palia Review (PC) - Gaming.net
Connect with us

Reviews

Palia Review (PC)

Published

 on

Palia Promotional Art

I’ll be honest with you — agriculture is not my forte. Scratch that, agricultural farming is not my forte, though, if I had a cent for each plot of land I’ve had to rake and cultivate over the years, I’d probably be able to fool you into thinking that I was, albeit fueled by naïveté, a bit of a dab hand in the field. As it turns out, however, I am no greater a farmer as I am a chalk-smitten bricklayer. For this reason alone, the likes of Palia came across as a slightly threatening endeavor, and not to mention a vessel that would eventually foreshadow the downfall of what could’ve been a genuinely cozy and somewhat harmonic world. In my mind, it wasn’t the case of how I’d be able to elevate its economic growth, but rather, how I’d wind up reducing its roots to smoke and haze.

Of course, it didn’t take all that long for me to realize that, despite it having one or two challenges strewn between the margins, the world of Palia really wasn’t threatening — like, at all. In fact, as it has no combat to work with, or any dramatically downscaled sliders to keep track of, the game as a whole isn’t all that tough of a cookie to crack. And honestly, I hate to say it — but the word ‘cozy’ applies in just about every aspect of the product, and for that, you know, I’m thankful. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill, bullet-brazen RPG, but rather, a minimalistic open-world life and farming simulation that fuses a host of online multiplayer elements to the fibers of a generic sandbox world. This is, for lack of a better word, Palia — and it has just this moment arrived on PC. Let’s talk about it.

When Life Gives You Lemons

Character surveying farmland (Palia)

If you took one good look at Palia and thought that it resembled the outlines of an alternate farming sim — then boy, give yourself a gold star. As it turns out, Palia isn’t all that different from its peers, in the fact that, concept-wise, it essentially paints the exact same portrait, spills, splodges, warts and all. Sure enough, there’s an enormous plot of land to explore, and, if you can believe it, a network of NPCs, all of whom share a common purpose: to launder odd jobs and requests onto your shoulders in exchange for resources and coin, with which you can use to build homes, tools, and an entire supply of cozy cosmetics. Take any sandbox farming sim, and you’ll have a solid idea of how it all works here; unsurprisingly, there are quests, crafting recipes, and a treasure trove of scavenging missions to embark on.

Palia is a bit of a slow burner, that’s for sure. But then, this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, given its open-ended approach and infinite wealth of resources to carve, mold, and fashion into, well, anything that tickles your fancy. And that, really, is what Palia is all about: utilizing the natural beauty and its host of raw materials to conjure and spit out new architectural ideas for the masses. There is, weirdly enough, an online multiplayer option, though it doesn’t quite scratch that much of an itch, seeing as its social features are fairly limited and, aside from one of two collaborative activities, there just isn’t that much to see, do, or even share, for that matter.

A Slow Burn

Rearranging furniture in home (Palia)

It goes without saying at this point, truly, but if you have poured a considerable amount of time into the likes of Paleo PinesMy Time at Sandrock, or Palworld, then you’ll no doubt already be fully aware that, to make some level of progress in a farming sim — you need to put in a great deal of work. Well, not much is different here, either; you’re sent out to locate resources in one of several vibrant biomes, and instructed to return with the goods in order to fashion some form of building or workstation. The only issue in Palia, though, is that building takes time — and a lot of it. Case in point, if you locate a significant amount of building blocks to build a home, you then need to return to the site a handful of hours later to effectively reap the fruits of your labor.

Disappointingly, you can’t just stick with the journey and keep trucking forward to another destination, as the game does occasionally prevent you from doing so. You can, of course, spend your free time gathering additional resources to put to good use at a later stage, but if you have a list of buildings that are actively whittling down hours like minuscule grains of sand in an hourglass, then you’ll come to find that, scavenging or not, there’s still a lot that’s holding you back from getting your hands dirty and progressing deeper into the world. And that bothered me, honestly, because deep down, I wanted to witness my creations jolt to life, but I lacked the patience to watch them gradually—and I mean gradually—develop. It wasn’t quite on the same lines as ‘like watching paint dry’ — but it wasn’t too far off, to be fair.

One Small Step

Character gliding over mountain range (Palia)

Suffice it to say that Palia is a real, real slow burner — and that’s fine, so long as you don’t mind sitting around twiddling your thumbs for several hours whilst rinsing and repeating the same old motions. On a typical day in its world, you’ll find yourself loading up on checklists for a recipe of two, and heading out into the wild to locate the resources needed to put the hammer to the stone, so to speak. Fortunately, there are also a good amount quests to tackle, too, which of course helps to break up the grind that, in all honesty, does become a little monotonous after just a few short in-game days. But again, these quests don’t exactly break the bank when it comes to getting creative, as they’re more or less watered down versions of the same goals that you set for yourself, anyway.

I’ll admit, the most fun I had during my time in Palia was with its general furniture and building arrangement, as well as its surprisingly hefty suite of customizable set pieces and accessories. It came as a bit of a shock, to be fair, to have such a solid amount of features to tweak and flesh out between idle builds and part-time adventures. Just as well, because if I hadn’t of found something to keep me chipping away during those quieter hours, then I would’ve found myself clawing for the exit and into the hot seat of another, slightly more interesting alternative.

Verdict

Overview of small town (Palia)

Palia clearly has some good bones, and I’m not about to shoot it down for that. Sure, it’s a little generic, and it doesn’t do a great deal more than the average life and farming simulation game. But it does, however, remove a lot of the stressful features of a traditional RPG—hunger, stamina, and the need to maintain a balanced diet, for example. For this reason alone, it’s easy to recommend Palia to a newcomer to the genre, as it doesn’t make a habit out of coughing up copious amounts of temperamental characters and convoluted quest lines for the sake of appealing to a tougher clientele. On the contrary, it opts for a simple, clean, and easygoing experience that, while being a little repetitive at times, does mesh surprisingly well with its chosen theme.

I’m willing to give Palia the benefit of the doubt and say that, as we’re still in the preliminary phases of its ongoing development, there’s still a great deal to look forward to. For the time being, though, I can’t say I’m waiting with bated breath and sitting on tenterhooks for the next leg in the journey. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an okay-ish game, but it isn’t in receipt of any standout material that makes me feel the need to return. And even if I did return to the root of my wildest creations two weeks from now, chances are I’d still be a few days short of seeing the foundations of my latest project miraculously spring to life. The point is, patience is a virtue, and if there’s one thing I’ve come to learn from nibbling at the bones of Palia, it’s that I, apparently, don’t have it.

Palia Review (PC)

A Newcomer’s Delight

It’s incredibly easy to recommend Palia to anyone whose thumbs aren’t quite nearly as green as, say, someone who’s poured thousands of hours into several alternative life and farming simulation games. With that said, if you’re on the market for something that does things a little differently, then you’ll probably be slightly disappointed with what’s in store here.

Jord is acting Team Leader at gaming.net. If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.