Palia is one of the newest MMO additions on the Nintendo Switch. It is an adventure and life simulation game that lets you explore and live in a fantasy world while also solving the mysteries of your human existence.
The game’s open beta was initially released on PC last August 2023 and later launched on the Nintendo Switch in December of the same year.
While the Switch’s portability is great and the console has run amazing games, such as Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, and Pokemon, it can’t be denied that the Switch’s technical capabilities can be a bit limited.
Let’s see if this tiny console can handle this MMO, shall we? Here’s our Palia on Nintendo Switch review after a couple of days of playing the game.
Palia Switch Review: Is It Good?
So is Palia good on the Switch? Yes…and no.
There aren’t a lot of MMOs available on the Switch, so simply having Palia on the console is a good thing already.
In this game, you get to build your own house, go fishing and farming, and even develop close friendships and romance with the world’s characters. It’s the kind of life simulation Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley players sorely miss and crave.
And not only is it free-to-play, but it supports cross-play and cross-progression with PC, and won’t require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription for Switch players.
Unfortunately, as of this writing, Palia on Switch isn’t the smoothest.
So despite all of its simulation goodness and being free-to-play, we have to dock a few points from a technical standpoint. Below is our in-depth review of some aspects of the game.
It’s Playable but It Stutters
Due to the Switch’s technical limitations, we were ready for the possible lag the game may have.
Surprisingly, we experienced nothing game-breaking, although the game stutters a lot.
These little hiccups range from crafting recipes not showing all their needed materials to Sernuks (the game’s deer-like creature) teleporting and disappearing mid-hunt.
Sometimes, insects don’t get dazed even after repeated attacks, and at times your character suddenly does a quick T-pose while changing outfits.
Its 30 FPS cap isn’t doing the game any favors either. However, expecting the Switch to play it at anything higher would be greedy.
Still, we didn’t experience any game-breaking bugs and these tiny glitches were easily fixed by reloading the game via teleporting home or closing the crafting window and opening it again.
And despite wasting a few arrows and smoke bombs, we still had a grand time exploring the world of Palia.
While nothing can compare to the ease of clicking things with a mouse, Palia on Switch has translated its controls well on the console’s controllers.
Tools are handled using the ZL and ZR buttons, so your usual A, B, X, and Y buttons can take a break for other uses. The menu is opened with ‘+’ and the map with ‘-’.
At times, it does feel slightly clunky, like when crafting planks and bricks, since there’s no convenient button to immediately get the completed items and you have to navigate using your d-pad.
Overall, nothing bad stands out from the controls, and pressing ZR when you use your tools even feels quite satisfying. We do wish that the devs add gyro controls when hunting though, a la Breath of the Wild or Monster Hunter Rise!
Reduced Graphics Still Looks Okay
Graphics is always one of the Switch’s weaknesses and we already expected Palia on Switch to not look as good as its PC counterpart.
While its visuals are serviceable and it looks okay, there are times when the game stutters and its 3D models look slightly unpolished.
Still, we enjoyed the aesthetics of the game and had a grand time exploring the nooks and crannies of the two current available areas.
Here’s hoping its graphics and optimization will get a boost soon and we get to visit other areas!
Gameplay Is Relaxing
Technical issues aside, there is something relaxing in Palia’s gameplay.
Aside from solving the mysteries of your arrival and fulfilling NPC quests, you get to live a life in Palia. You get to farm, fish, cook, hunt, mine, forage, catch bugs, craft furniture, and even form bonds with the NPCs.
The game is very forgiving, so you don’t have to worry about fall damage or the animals chasing you back. You can simply zone out and spend all day chopping trees or fishing for guppies.
Unlike other MMOs where you have to pay, grind, or compete with other players to get a house, in Palia you are immediately given a plot of land where you can make your own home.
You start with a spacious tent, but it won’t take long before you get a quest to build a proper house. You can even get permits to add extensions, like extra rooms, a fireplace, a porch, and even a gazebo.
And with the numerous furniture and decor items that you can craft and receive from NPCs, decorating your new home is an absolute delight.
The Game Is Free
It’s commendable that Palia is free-to-play and doesn’t need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. You just have to download the game, start an account, and you’ll immediately play with other people.
Its online shop is full of cosmetic items that aren’t needed to play or progress the story. But if you want to wear cute outfits or have a cool pet follow you around, you are always welcome to buy some Palia coins.
But for me, I’m content with just chopping trees all day or talking to the world’s characters while in bed with my Switch.