Palia: free cozy game arrives on Steam after Nintendo Switch launch

Cozy games are hard to put down once you become engrossed in them. So, if you’re itching for more farming, more friendly villagers, and yet more crafting, a new adventure awaits in Palia.

After launching on the Nintendo Switch last December, the game is now officially available on Steam for PC gamers following a seven-month beta period.

Best of all, it’s completely free to download. The brainchild of a fledgling studio called Singularity 6, composed of developers who worked on World of Warcraft and League of Legends, Palia is described as “a cozy sim massively multiplayer online game”.

Based on some of the early reviews, however, that may be overselling it. Yes, you can bump into other players in the game, but you can’t chat with them or even trade items.

At its heart, Palia is like a 3D Stardew Valley with a sprinkling of social elements. You’ll tend to your crops, build out hearth and home, and get acquainted with the residents of the nearby village of Kilima — with whom you can even romance if you desire. Meanwhile, the cartoonish art style will look familiar to anyone who’s picked up Fortnite or The Sims 4.

Okay, it sounds derivative, but that’s par for the course for many modern cozy games. The sub-genre has many titles that play like fantasy RPGs with a dash of satisfying farming, breezy combat, and survival mechanics. Thankfully, cozy game fans aren’t seeking a masterpiece — most are happy with a game that gets the basics right. That means a world they can explore at their own pace for hours on end, which My Time at Sandrock and other modern titans of the genre offer.

Like that game, Palia’s tasks, from fishing to cooking to decorating your homestead, are linked to a series of quests doled out by local townsfolk. A focus meter and experience bar can also be filled by cooking or completing said jobs.

Being a free-to-play game, Palia comes with micro-transactions. However, scouring a few Steam reviews, you don’t have to buy stuff to progress (or pay-to-win, as gamers call it).

Many users also claim the game feels unfinished, so it may be best to go in with lowered expectations. But, nothing is stopping the developers from addressing that with new updates.