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2023 has been a smorgasbord of cozy games. Whether you’re a fan of the genre or not, you have to admit its rising popularity is impressive. What was once considered an extremely niche sim category has been steadily growing into a massive community within the last two decades. Now, as 2023 winds down, the Nintendo Switch will get yet another cozy game added to its library. This time it’s in the form of a cozy community simulation MMO that entered its open beta on PC back in August – Singularity 6’s Palia.

Disclosure: I’ve played Palia before its Nintendo Switch release via its closed and open beta on PC. In addition to playing Palia’s Nintendo Switch version prior to its public launch, I was gifted US$99.99 worth of Palia’s premium currency, Palia Coins. I did not use the premium currency to purchase any cosmetic items during this preview as I wanted to experience this game as an average player.

Despite being an avid fan of anything remotely close to a farming sim game, I wasn’t aware of Palia until June (weeks before its Nintendo Direct appearance) followed by an official gameplay first-look video (giving prospective players a 75-minute glimpse into what awaited in Kilima Village). Sold on what was presented, I signed up for Palia’s waitlist to see if I (as well as a few family and friends) managed to get picked for Palia’s closed beta in early August. Luckily, I’ve been able to explore the world of Palia since August 4th. While I’m not an expert on the game, I’ve easily sunk 30 hours into the PC version and after playing the Nintendo Switch version for nearly a week… am I glad that this release is happening after four months of updates and tweaks. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.



For those who don’t know what Palia is (besides being described as a cozy MMO), here’s a quick rundown – Palia is not your typical MMO. One hour in real time equals one day in-game. Player counts are limited in specific areas, yet there are ways to play with friends that won’t break the world-building Singularity 6 has in place. You and hundreds of other players around the world aren’t crowding the screen at the same time to talk to one NPC. Just a few dozen at worst (the most I saw at one time was six). As for Palia’s story – it’s a fantasy world where the human race has been missing for thousands of years. Enter you, the player, and other humans suddenly appearing in the small town of Kilima Village (home to Majiri, a human-esque species, and one Grimalkin, an anthropomorphic feline race). Luckily, the residents of the town are welcoming (well, for the most part) and get you situated with a plot of land and a tent. From there, you can explore Kilima Village and the neighboring Bahari Bay, while also farming, catching bugs, hunting, mining, fishing, crafting furniture, cooking, decorating your living space, completing quests, and more.

Since Palia is an MMO, a bit of grinding is involved (the same can be argued for farm sims). What’s nice about Palia is that an experience multiplier feature is used (referred to as Focus and all you need to fill it is to eat cooked dishes), resources shown on the map are available for everyone (save for some specific spawns), and material drops are shared between players if certain criteria are met. Say you and another player both get in a swing when cutting down the same tree. Great! You’ve both got the same drop. No one missed out.


Fishing together? Fishing bonuses for all! Faster fish biting rates!


So the next question is how well does it run on Nintendo Switch? In over 20 hours of gameplay (shared between docked and handheld modes), Palia only crashed on me once. Gold star there. (No sarcasm – I’m being serious.) Loading times between areas are slightly longer than what I’m used to on PC –the longest wait I had on Switch was a minute. Yet, those times vary due to my place in the server’s queue, and if I’m jumping between my housing plot, Kilima Village, Bahari Bay, or a handful of locations I’d rather not spoil (the smaller the map, the quicker the loading time). These won’t be a bother in the long run, because you won’t (typically) trigger loading screens between areas back to back to back. So yes, that one minute may seem long, but chances are you were running around in the previous area for 20 minutes or more. Also, I did get a few brief loading screens when initiating a conversation with NPCs, but those lasted for 3 seconds or less and weren’t frequent.

Graphically, Palia is okay. There are differences between the Nintendo Switch and PC versions – texturing, lighting, the removal of various decorative items, delays in character rendering, and more. This isn’t too surprising – my Nintendo Switch doesn’t have AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX built inside. Yet, first-time players on Nintendo Switch will notice textures popping in and out, objects rendering completely when you walk closer to them, weird instances of lighting, and textures taking 5 to 10 seconds to load onto NPCs.


Interior screencaps of the Ormuu’s Horn Inn. PC (top row) vs. Nintendo Switch (bottom row).


Comparisons of Jel, Tish, and Reth. PC (top row) vs. Nintendo Switch (bottom row).


Delayed rendering on NPCs (top row) vs. loaded rendering (bottom row).


For me, I don’t mind textures popping in and out (except when it happens with NPCs – it can be a tad horrifying). The removal of decorative items in certain areas knocks off a few points in the world-building category, but if Palia runs better without some tableware, then fine. Okay. The lighting, on the other hand, bothers me. Characters in shadow are missing bounce light or it’s daytime and they’re in a cast shadow despite not being in any shadows. Oddly enough, they’re better lit at night! I’ve also had moments where I walked into a house during the daytime and it was lit properly, before switching to darkness (so it’s not just limited to characters).

Despite those issues, it was difficult to end my Palia play sessions. This was due to utilizing the Switch’s docked or handheld modes as well as using controllers. That last point is important, as Palia doesn’t have any official controller support for the PC version. Sure, there are some workarounds, but they’ve also been patched out with updates. I’ve been wanting the chance to play Palia with a controller since I dabbled in bug catching back in August. (Please don’t make me attempt catching bugs with a mouse ever again.) While I would like the ability to remap some buttons and to add gyroscope to control the cursor for bug catching and hunting, I’m content with the current setup and rumble features. It adds to the experience and makes certain activities a bit easier to participate in. (It’s a cozy MMO. I just want to chill while successfully catching some butterflies and moths.)

One thing I’d like to address is Palia’s play model. Technically, Palia is a free-to-play game. You don’t need an active Nintendo Switch Online subscription too. Yet, there is a premium currency (Palia Coins) that’s purchased with your local currency. Palia Coins are sold in one of six bundles – ranging in price from $4.99 to $99.99. These coins can only be used to purchase cosmetic items: premium outfits, select gliders, and pets (a cat-like creature called a Palcat). On top of that, outfits and gliders are sold in discounted bundles. If you don’t purchase the entire bundle (just one outfit of three), you can still get the discount when purchasing the other outfits in the same bundle. Yet, your Palia Coins will be tied to whichever platform they were purchased on. So, if you want to buy some Palia Coins and play the game on both PC and Switch, make sure you’re only purchasing those coins on one platform. (Yes, this means there are no lootboxes. Rejoice!)

Overall, I’m enjoying my time with Palia on Nintendo Switch. Despite the graphic issues and a handful of bugs that are also known issues on the PC version, I’m wowed that it only crashed once on my Nintendo Switch. Singularity 6 is continuing to update the game while also tweaking various elements (increasing spawn rates for rare resources, adding a new NPC, expanding on the game’s lore, seasonal-theming and items, etc.), so I’m hopeful that some of these issues will get patched in future updates. For simulation fans who don’t mind dipping their toes into an MMO, give Palia a shot – whether that’s on PC or Switch. I do recommend playing with friends and if you’re looking for a group, check out Palia’s official Discord. Go with the flow, do a few quests, and do not feel bad for being low on funds for a bit. Once you get your tools upgraded, it’s easier to make gold… which you can sink into decorating your house, buying more soil plots, purchasing recipes, and much more.

If you’re interested in picking up Palia, you can download it for free via the Nintendo eShop today. While waiting for the download to finish, you’ll want to make a Palia account on the official Palia site or via someone’s refer-a-friend code (there are plenty in Palia’s official Discord). You’ll need that when linking your Nintendo Switch profile to your Palia account (you can only connect one Palia account to one Nintendo Switch profile). Do not skip this step when first logging in or you’ll miss the Leapfroggy Outfit and Mushroom Glider rewards that are available for the Nintendo Switch release. If you’re looking for more free items or want to see Palia in action, a series of Twitch Drops will be available starting today too.



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Written by Jennifer Burch

Illustrator, designer, writer and big Nintendo geek, you can find Jennifer with an N3DS within reach 24/7. As the oldest of three, she has survived many Mario Party, Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart sessions intact in addition to getting her brothers hooked on some really weird games. (Cubivore anyone?)