Palworld Early Access First Impressions | An Adorably Gruesome World

A swirling storm of emotions as I debate catching Pals or living as a peaceful farmer.
Palworld early access first impressions
Image via Pocketpair

There are a lot of things I love in life, from food to cute things. When I first heard about Palworld, I went into it knowing it was a survival game with adorable animals, guns, and a whole lot of inspiration from Pokemon. While this meant it could go in several directions, from a horrifyingly buggy mess to a shockingly beautiful and smooth ride, I’m pleasantly surprised it’s leaning toward the latter in its early access stage.

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It’s Time to Survive

Jumping into the game’s world, you’re immediately greeted with the happy, smiling faces of three Pals, with your character waking up on the coastline in classic survival game fashion. From here, you’re thrown right into the deep end, with a tutorial guiding you on things to do, but otherwise, leaving you to fend for yourself. You start with nothing, and it’s your responsibility to change that.

As someone with her fair share of survival game experience, I was happy to feel the thrill of exploration and discovery again.

Palworld first impressions survival aspects
It’s time to farm. | Screenshot by Prima Games

Palworld feels as much like a survival game as it does one inspired by a famous franchise. While at the end of the day, you’ll spend hours throwing spheres at animals in hopes of catching and adding them to your growing party, you’ll also have to be attentive to your hunger, health, and surroundings in case an unsuspecting enemy comes by and wipes you out.

In games, it’s a simple yet exciting concept that I never tire of, and Palworld is no exception. I may have a few issues I’ll get into later, but it got this part down.

The Poor Animals

As I dove deeper into playing, I had a lot of conflicting feelings as I ran around and looked at the animals’ adorable faces before bonking them on the head with a wooden club. On one hand, I understood my objective and knew it was a necessary sacrifice for progression. On the other hand, I apologized to all the Pals I caught and accidentally killed during the first two hours I played, as I genuinely felt a little bad for sealing their fates like that.

That’s especially true once I brought Pals back to my in-game base and watched them work for hours on end to accomplish my goals rather than living their former happy, cheerful lives. On the plus side, I give them tasty food to eat.

An image of a Pal for Palworld first impression review
This Chikipi doesn’t know what’s about to happen. | Screenshot by Prima Games

Despite that, I never found that this positively or negatively impacted anything once I mentally twisted it into an essential gameplay experience. While I would be interested in seeing what a more peaceful alternative could look like, it’s still fun to run around, discover new Pal types, and see what’s out there, even if I occasionally apologize to the little critters. What can I say? I’m Canadian.

Everything Happens So Much

I’ve encountered more situations than I can count where Palworld will go from a nice, peaceful time catching Pals to chaos from incoming enemies trying to take over my base. I’ve also had similar situations where I go to fight an enemy my level, only to get demolished by a combination of its incredible fighting capabilities and my mediocre-at-best skills.

Things go from chill to messy fast, and I have a love-hate relationship with this dynamic.

Defeat screen for Palworld First Impression review
I’m quite familiar with this screen. | Screenshot by Prima Games

Sometimes, I just want to spend time at my base, building a bit, and having fun without having to stop and defeat random enemies for five minutes and deal with the aftermath. While possible occasionally, it doesn’t come often, giving me little time to sit back and contemplate the questionable decisions I’ve made with getting hundreds of animals to sit in a box for weeks.

At the same time, it can also be really fun and break the monotony of running around and grinding EXP. It depends on what you’re up to and your preferences.

A Beautiful and Exciting World

I’ve had a blast playing through Palworld’s early access and exploring its environment so far. The world is beautiful, and the sounds are what you’d expect from a game where you hear hundreds of animals living their best lives. I’m curious about what’s in store for its future.

It’s come with some blips and errors, which, fortunately, Pocketpair is working on fixing during this period. While nothing about it is particularly groundbreaking or revolutionary, it accomplishes exactly what it’s meant to, and I’m both pleasantly satisfied with it and optimistic about its future.

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Author
Madison Benson
Madison was a staff writer at Prima Games who has played video games for over twenty years and written about them for over two years. Her love for video games started with turn-based strategy games like Heroes of Might and Magic and has since extended to casual farming sims, MMORPGs, and action-adventure RPGs.