Love monster collecting games but wish they had a bit more edge? Then let me introduce you to Palworld, the survival game that puts adorable creatures and big guns together in one irreverent package.
At first glance, Palworld looks like someone took the creature designs from Pokémon, mashed them up with the crafting and base building of Ark, and added a sprinkle of quirky Japanese humor. You start off stranded on a colorful island filled with biomes to explore and tall mysterious towers on the horizon. But this isn’t a typical monster training adventure. The name of the game here is survival. You’ll be scavenging for resources, researching new technologies, defending against attacks, and getting your hands dirty capturing and utilizing the cute but deadly inhabitants called Pals.
See, in Palworld you can recruit Pals to help around your homestead, putting them to work farming, crafting weapons, and more. But you can also take them out into the wilds and equip them with guns, turning these cuddly companions into furry engines of destruction. The stark contrast between the adorable anime aesthetic and the brutal survival mechanics creates an absurd tone that you just have to experience yourself.
Some may find the questionable ethics of using Pals as tools and weapons off-putting. But if you’re looking for an irreverent twist on the creature collecting genre that blends the familiar with the profane, Palworld may just charm you with its quirky humor and addictive gameplay. This bizarre island awaits!
Get Ready For Resource Grinding and Weirdly Addictive Monster Management
The core gameplay loop of Palworld will feel familiar to survival game veterans. You’ll spend a lot of time exploring the sprawling open world, gathering resources like wood, stone, and food, and hauling everything back to your home base. Slowly but surely you’ll construct crafting stations, storage containers, defenses, and more until your humble camp transforms into a bustling village.
Fans of games like Ark and Rust will be right at home with these base building mechanics. But what sets Palworld apart is the addition of those adorable/deadly Pals into the mix. Catching new Pals becomes an obsession as you journey through biomes like lush forests, icy tundras, and volcanos in search of rare and powerful creatures. Unlike Pokemon though, you don’t weaken Pals with friendly battles. Nope, in Palworld you bludgeon them unconscious with weapons before cramming them into your Pal Spheres for capture. It’s…a bit disturbing at first, but you get used to the questionable ethics surprisingly quick.
Once you’ve got a collection of Pals, it’s time to put them to work back at your base. Each Pal has certain skills, so you can set up automation chains like having a plant Pal harvest crops that a water Pal grows. Or you can go full sweatshop mode and force Pals to toil endlessly crafting weapons and ammo. Just beware of pushing them too hard, lest they have mental breakdowns. But hey, no need to fret about the collapse of your free labor force. You can always butcher Pals for meat or eat their unfertilized eggs!
Okay, okay, that all sounds pretty dark written out. But somehow it’s all played for quirky laughs rather than shock value in the actual game. And there’s no denying the appeal of optimizing your base with carefully selected Pals working in harmony. It becomes strangely addicting.
You can also bring up to three Pals with you on your adventures. Each has useful Partner Skills that range from passive benefits like extra health to active abilities like unleashing electrical area attacks. With the right battle Pals by your side, you’ll be able to explore more dangerous parts of the world, take on challenging Tower bosses, and mow down the evil poachers and enslavers who are essentially Pal PETA.
Combat in Palworld is real-time rather than turn based. You’ll be mixing gunplay and melee attacks with your Pals’ abilities for deadly results. Boss battles become puzzles to solve as you identify type weaknesses and craft a team to counter them. The Tower bosses are no joke either. You’ll only get one super powered Pal to defeat rather than a whole team, but each has multiple health bars and powerful moves that will wipe your squad if you’re unprepared. Overcoming these tense, high stakes battles delivers a huge adrenaline rush.
While fighting and exploration are important, you’ll likely spend just as much time tinkering with crafting and base building. Unlocking new technologies on the expansive crafting tree feels great as you progress from stone tools to military grade weapons and equipment. And designing your ideal base complete with defenses, crafting stations, and Pals perfectly arranged to maximize efficiency and automation is weirdly engrossing.
The mixture of crafting depth, base building hooks, open world exploration, and quirky monster management comes together to create an addictive survival cocktail. Palworld may seem to wear its influences on its sleeve, but it combines familiar elements with its own brand of oddball humor and questionable ethics to deliver a fresh take on the genre. Just be prepared for the ethical dilemmas that come with running your own monster factory sweatshop. But trust me, whipping your Pals relentlessly so you can craft that shiny new shotgun is even more fun than it sounds!
Traverse a Vibrant World Filled with Secrets
One of Palworld’s biggest strengths is the sheer scope and variety of its open world. The sprawling island map is packed with different biomes to explore, from peaceful forests and lakes to hazardous wastelands and active volcanoes. Each area has its own distinct feel and inhabitants, providing plenty of motivation to keep pushing forward to see what’s over the next horizon.
As you journey through meadows, deserts, jungles, and more, you’ll stumble upon chests containing useful loot, gather valuable resources like fruit bearing trees and ore veins, and most importantly, discover Pals in the wild to add to your collection. There’s a real thrill to venturing into a new part of the map and spotting a rare or exotic Pal just waiting to be caught. But make sure you come prepared with plenty of healing items and Pal Spheres, because the island is teeming with hazards and hostile creatures.
The sheer scale of the open world also leaves ample room for developer Pocketpair to tuck away secrets and surprises. You may randomly chance upon a quirky NPC with valuable wares for sale far from any settlement. Or uncover a hidden cave system while climbing a mountain that leads to an optional dungeon with rare crafting materials as rewards. There’s always something interesting just over the horizon if you stray from the beaten path.
And once you’ve collected some mountable Pals, you can access even more of the map as you take to the skies, seas, and more. Flying high above the island on a Draconian Pal reveals stunning vistas and landmarks barely visible from ground level. While an aquatic Pal like Blubberguppy lets you dive deep below the waves to find underwater grottos and sunken treasure. You’ll uncover tons of extra secrets and shortcuts this way.
The world doesn’t just look pretty either – it feels alive thanks to random events and emergent gameplay moments. You may run into an intense stand-off between poachers and liberation fighters while exploring. Or get caught in the crossfire as bands of rival Pals clash over territory. The environments have an organic, unpredictable quality that keeps you on your toes.
Some players may find the world a bit too sprawling for their tastes, requiring lots of potentially tedious hiking between biomes early on before you have access to mounts. But there’s usually enough eye catching scenery, useful resources to gather, and combat encounters with wild Pals to keep the travel time engaging rather than boring. Plus you’ll eventually construct transport networks like railways and cable cars at your bases to get around faster.
With its diverse biomes, wealth of secrets, dynamic events and activities, and massive scale, the world of Palworld is a playground just begging to be explored. It rewards those who venture off the beaten path and keep their eyes peeled with memorable moments of discovery and natural beauty. And the ability to eventually traverse both land, sea, and sky means you’ll never run out of new frontiers to uncover. So strap on your hiking boots, stock up on Pal Spheres, and prepare for a grand adventure across this eccentric island’s many wonders.
A Clash of Styles Both Charming and Unsettling
The visuals of Palworld can only be described as an odd clash between adorable and unsettling. The Pals themselves are bright, colorful, and exaggerated with cute anime charm in a style reminiscent of Pokémon. But the environments around them go for more realistic graphics with detailed trees, grass, rocks, and water.
This dissonance between the cartoonish Pals and the lifelike world makes the already questionable act of bludgeoning them senseless with weapons even more disturbing. It highlights the absurd juxtaposition of dark survival themes with the cheery monster collecting aesthetic. Some may find this contrast charming in its weirdness, while others may just find it off-putting.
Technical issues like framerate dips and texture pop-in do crop up on occasion, but that’s understandable for an early access game. Hopefully optimization will improve over time. Overall, the environments are quite beautiful, with great draw distances and loads of visual variety between biomes. The Pals may feel slightly out of place, but their designs are appealing with fun little animations and behaviors.
On the audio front, the music provides sweeping melodies and ambient tones that evoke memories of epic adventures across Hyrule. It lends a sense of grandeur and discovery to exploring the world. The Pals themselves emit cute chirps, growls, and squeaks though they generally repeat voicelines too often.
Some players may yearn for more cohesion between the vibrant Pals and the world around them. But the sheer contrast has an appeal all its own in highlighting the absurdity and black humor of Palworld’s premise. And any rough edges can be expected from an early access game still in development.
While not the most technically polished, Palworld’s bright creature designs combined with expansive environments and an epic score form a pleasant backdrop for survival antics. The dissonance between elements may enhance the bizarre tone for some or seem off-putting for others. But the vibrant style overall brings this quirky world to life…even when you’re brutally thrashing said world’s inhabitants into submission.
Hilarious Absurdity or Disturbing Dystopia?
Palworld’s biggest draw and most controversial aspect is the startling contrast between its cutesy anime monster designs and the brutal survival mechanics that let you exploit those monsters in some twisted ways. Clubbing adorable creatures, forcing them into labor, or eating their meat are all gameplay options that provoke shocked laughs at how wildly inappropriate yet oddly tempting they seem.
Everything about Palworld seems crafted to parody and satirize the family friendly monster collecting genre. The cheery Pokémon-inspired Pals placed in this grim setting full of guns, violence, and ethical concerns creates an absurdist tone that constantly forces you to reexamine the darker undertones of collecting games.
Yet at the same time, the player has agency in just how unsavory they choose to be. You can sustain yourself on foraged berries rather than meat. Build a sanctuary rather than a sweatshop. Treat your Pals as companions rather than disposable tools. Or go full villain with cannibalism and forced labor. The choice is yours.
This freedom and contrast allows players to engage with the material on different levels. For some it will just be an edgy joke taken to such extremes that it becomes hilarious. For others, it may provide genuine satire and commentary on how we treat sentient beings in real life compared to the idealized relationships in fiction.
But a few may find certain themes too disturbing or unethical to enjoy even in a fictional context. Palworld certainly won’t be for everyone’s taste. Yet it must be said there is nuance to be found between the two extremes. The Pals show signs of sentience but also seem content living simple lives of loyalty and service rather than freedom.
Ultimately your experience will come down to how you choose to interpret the questionable material. Is it just absurdist humor taken to the limit? An attempt at satire that goes too far? A thought provoking look at our values? Or a dystopia masquerading as fun? There’s enough ambiguity for it to work on different levels based on the player.
While its irreverent tone and questionable ethics admittedly limit its audience, one thing is clear – Palworld will make you laugh, cringe, and reflect in equal measure. It straddles the line between hilarious absurdism and disturbing dystopia with no apologies. And that wildly provocative combination makes it a beast like no other in the creature collecting genre.
Adventure Together With Friends Old and New
While Palworld can certainly be enjoyed playing solo, everything becomes more fun and chaotic with friends in multiplayer. Up to 32 players can share a server, allowing for massive cooperative communities and bases. Or you can stick to a smaller group and just adventure with your closest pals.
Banding together with allies alleviates some of the grind as you split up gathering duties. You can also defend each other from attacks by rival human factions. And four player tower raids against bosses scratch that classic co-op PvE itch.
But simply exploring the sprawling open world together feels like a grand adventure. You can take in gorgeous vistas from flying mountaintop fortresses built together from scratch. Journey through dark cavern systems lit only by the flashlights you wisely brought. Or stumble upon hidden secrets and landmarks off the beaten trail.
The quirky world and survival mechanics also lend themselves well to emergent gameplay stories you’ll chat about for ages. Like the time you desperately improvised weapons to fight off an invading Pal raid party. Or when your friend accidentally ate human meat and got horrifying parasites. Or that weird NPC you met who gave cryptic warnings if you completed his questline.
Joining public servers also lets you meet new like-minded players from around the world. You can check out their unique builds for inspiration or recruit them to your shared cause of world domination (or liberation?).
At the end of the day, sharing this irreverent and addictive adventure with friends makes everything in Palworld more rewarding and memorable. The multiplayer integration is seamless and the sandbox systems ripe for chaos. Why survive alone when you can master the island as a bonafide Pal-commanding, base-building, gun-toting squad?
An Absurd and Addictive Survival Experience
While not for everyone, Palworld provides a wholly unique take on survival games and creature collecting that hooked me for hours on end. The core gameplay loop of exploring, building up your base, crafting new gear, and catching a wide menagerie of Pals proved incredibly addictive even in early access. Experimenting with different Pals’ skills and finding clever automation workflows to improve efficiency was weirdly engrossing.
The towering heights of addictive fun are complemented by the utterly irreverent tone. The absurdity of wounding cutesy monsters just to enslave them as laborers created endless laugh out loud moments. Palworld’s self-awareness and black humor parody the monster collecting genre in provocative ways that some will hate but others will love.
That said, the questionable themes and visual dissonance between environments and monsters may be off-putting for some. And the rough translation leads to odd phrases at times that disrupt immersion. These are relatively minor complaints though.
The larger issues holding Palworld back stem from its early access state. Performance hiccups, while uncommon, do exist. The enemy AI can be exploitable. And certain progression systems involving grinding resources could use another pass. But the core experience is already remarkably solid, enjoyable, and most importantly, absurdly fun.
Pocketpair have built a strong foundation here that I’m excited to see evolve. With a bit more polish and content additions like story quests, Palworld could become a survival icon. Even in its current form, fans of crafting, exploration, and quirky humor will find a lot to love.
So while it may not win over players looking for a deep narrative, if you’re seeking memorable emergent moments from combining pokemon-esque creature collecting with ruthless survival mechanics, Palworld delivers an irreverent adventure like no other. Just be prepared to throw ethics aside and embrace the playable dystopia with your army of enslaved monster companions. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to cook up some soup for my Pals using “secret meat” of questionable origins. Happy surviving!
With its addictive survival loops, quirky humor, and absurd yet thoughtful contrast between cute and disturbing themes, Palworld provides a wholly unique and memorable take on creature collecting. Some rough edges exist in this early access state, but the solid core experience lays the groundwork for a potential survival icon.
- Addictive survival/crafting gameplay loop
- Charming creature designs
- Massive open world with biomes to explore
- Fun base building and resource automation using Pals
- Hilarious contrast between themes creates an irreverent tone
- Freedom in how you treat Pals
- Visual dissonance between Pals and environments
- Questionable themes and ethics may turn some players off
- Technical issues and bugs in early access
- Resource grinding can be tedious
- Enemy AI can be exploitable