Like curling up with a good book, games offer the chance to lose yourself in a fascinating story, explore a new world, or simply build the turnip farm of your dreams in painstaking detail. For fans of role-playing and simulation games, this is typically a solitary affair. But that’s about to change.
Palia is a new online community sim from Singularity 6, the first game from the LA-based developer made up of industry veterans from Blizzard, Epic, Riot, Zynga, and Sony. It pulls together elements of indie darling Stardew Valley and Nintendo’s smash-hit Animal Crossing series to create a cozy, inviting world with a plethora of options for customizing your home, neighborhood, and even relationships. Sure, MMORPGs like Final Fantasy XIV — and more recently Genshin Impact — allow you to get crafty by building your own house in-game. But unlike those titles, the primary focus of Palia isn’t chopping monsters to bits. It’s a lot more chill than that.
What are your favorite games and platforms of 2021, and what future releases are you most excited about? Take our poll!
At a media preview ahead of the debut of Palia’s first trailer, there was nary a nefarious villain to slay. (The devs did briefly mention a leveling system, but didn’t elaborate.) Instead, the focus is on village life, complete with woodland creatures, a towering purple barkeep, and even a robot clad in a dapper straw hat. Instead of being a sword-wielder or a mage, you can be an accomplished cook, an enviable gardener, a renowned angler, or simply the proud owner of the prettiest house in town. There’s also plenty of opportunities to get creative with your character’s look — Palia’s character creator creation system includes a broad variety of face and skin tone options, hairstyles that can go on any character, and a flexible fashion system.
While there’s plenty of ways to keep yourself occupied, the developers emphasize that Palia is better enjoyed with friends. While it’s not entirely clear yet how progression works in the game — or how it’s monetized — it’s likely that you’ll be able to gather more and better resources to build your home and neighborhood by working with others. You can also build relationships with NPCs and fellow players — there’s a romance mechanic in place that calls to mind Stardew Valley’s gift-giving system.
The team at Singularity 6 explained that keeping the community inclusive and inviting is at the forefront of their design decisions. For instance, when you invite a friend into your virtual home, you’ll be able to customize how much access they’ll have — you can give your real-life bestie a bit more freedom to roam (and maybe borrow a few knickknacks) than you would an online acquaintance. It’s a good approach to dissuading toxic players and trolls on paper, but it’s tough to know at this early stage how it will play out in practice.
“We started Singularity 6 to make games that bring people together,” said Aidan Karabaich, the game’s director and studio co-founder. “We’re so excited to invite players into Palia for the first time. Inspired by some of our favorite titles, our game lets you forge your own destiny, exist in a beautiful setting, and give you a sense of being at home. We expect the players to be a huge part of shaping the game, and we can’t wait to see what they do in Palia.”
But Palia isn’t just about the stories you make with friends in-game — there’s also a vast, overarching narrative in store. Your character awakens near a bucolic coastal village, into a world where humanity disappeared centuries ago. You’ll need to work with your fellow players to uncover what happened, “through an evolving narrative that will take years to fully unveil,” according to the team at Singularity 6.
It’s easy to imagine wiling away the hours in Palia — creating your character, honing recipes, and meticulously laying out your farm and gardens, or romancing stylish robots. The game’s visuals are an appealing blend of Fortnite and Genshin Impact — cheerful, sunny and bright. It’s an endearing premise and a bold promise to live up to, all at once. But we’re excited to see more in the months ahead.