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Gameflip First Looks: Palworld

Gameflip First Looks: Palworld

Mike A.Mike A.First Looks
Jan 26, 20246 minute read

The utterly insane concept of combining survival gameplay mechanics with Pokemon and also third-person shooters made Palworld an instant meme when it was announced all the way back in 2021.

It's been several years since that bonkers first reveal, and Palworld is now available in early access for both Steam and Xbox. We've spent several hours in this strange new world, and we're ready to bring you our official first impressions of Palworld in this week's Gameflip First Looks.

Note - no pals were harmed for the making of this blog. Except for the ones we ate. And maybe the ones we used in combat... only a small number of pals were harmed for the making of this blog.

About the Devs

Meet the people who came up with this adorable little nightmare. (Image Source: Pocketpair Press Kit)

Meet the people who came up with this adorable little nightmare. (Image Source: Pocketpair Press Kit)

Palworld is undergoing development at Pocketpair, a Japanese studio based out of Tokyo.

Considering its status as an indie studio founded in 2015, Pocketpair has quite a few games under its belt already. From the real-time card battler Overdungeon to the multiplayer competitive art game AI: Art Imposter, the studio shows some great creativity and promise.

However, several of their games can be described as derivative, bordering on copyright infringement. Never Grave looks an awful lot like Hollow Knight, and Craftopia is clearly aping the latest Zelda games with its art style and approach to exploration. Even the protagonist's costume has the same color scheme as Link's in Breath of the Wild.

These games largely went under the radar from what we can tell, but Pocketpair is definitely facing scrutiny for Palworld's proximity to well-known Pokémon designs among other things.

So, is Palworld a decent homage, or a graven imposter?

Surviving with the Help of Your Pals

Exploring the skies above Palworld. (Image Source: Pocketpair Press Kit)

Exploring the skies above Palworld. (Image Source: Pocketpair Press Kit)

Starting a new game in Palworld feels an awful lot like any survival game released in the past several years. There's a character creator, a beach, and plenty of rocks and wood to pick up for your crafting needs.

This basic gameplay is as engaging as it has been anywhere else, but it's when you start exploring and seeing all of the Pals roaming around that Palworld really begins to feel like something special.

You might be immune to this particular charm if you aren't a Pokémon fan, but Palworld really feels like what Pokémon games should have evolved into at least a decade ago. The gameplay is smooth and relatively glitch-free in our experience, and just existing in a massive (read: massive) open world alongside delightful creatures is wonderful. For an early access game that makes sure you know it's a work in progress before you even meet your first Pals, Palworld is quite impressive from a performance standpoint.

And then, you know, you have to bash them until they're weak enough to capture, and then put them to work at your base gathering materials and building up defenses. The “force creatures to be your friends” vibe of Pokémon feels a lot more sinister in Palworld given the range of things you can force them to do, but it totally works from a gameplay perspective. Just so long as you don't think about the morality of the situation too hard.

Pals quickly become critical to your survival, whether you're crafting at your base or hunting down new Pals as you explore and discover the secrets of the island. They can cook, build, fight, defend, and even act as transport depending on their species, which rewards capturing many different kinds of Pals.

Platform Problems

Don't expect more than this if you're playing on Xbox. (Image Source: Pocketpair Press Kit)

Don't expect more than this if you're playing on Xbox. (Image Source: Pocketpair Press Kit)

At launch, Palworld is available on Steam and Xbox. Heck, it's even included in Xbox Game Pass for subscribers right out the gate! However, anyone who has touched the game on both platforms will quickly tell you that not both versions are being created equally - at least for the time being.

The tradeoff for playing on console and probably taking advantage of that Game Pass sub is the fact that you can only play Palworld - a multiplayer, open-world survival game - with up to 4 friends. For comparison's sake, the Steam version supports massive 32-player worlds for co-op. That's a considerable loss for those who enjoy playing survival games in large groups.

Our time in Palworld was spent as a single-player experience on Xbox Series X, so these co-op woes didn't affect us. However, this is something to consider if you're looking to get in on the Palworld action.

Is Palworld Worth Your Time?

I mean, just look at this. (Image Source: Pocketpair Press Kit)

I mean, just look at this. (Image Source: Pocketpair Press Kit)

Palworld might be the latest controversy/newest hotness in the world of gaming, but it seems to be more than that in practice.

Whether you're in a Pal battle, leveling up your skills, or building a new digital life, playing and exploring Palworld just feels great. We're sure it'll only get better over time, and hopefully other games take big swings like this in the future.

Just, maybe in a less derivative fashion.

All told, Palworld is definitely worth your time, and it's a game we would recommend checking out. You can pick up Palworld on Steam and Xbox right now, and you can make the game's already budget price even lower with Gameflip.

For Steam users, our array of discounted Steam gift cards is just what you need to get going in Palworld on the cheap. Xbox users on the other hand, you have a few more options. Our low-cost Xbox Store gift cards can help you snag the full game at a steal, or you can stock up on Xbox Game Pass gift cards to either start or extend your subscription indefinitely without emptying your wallet.

Whichever platform you choose, Gameflip is here to help you get the games you want without ever having to pay full price. For more Gameflip First Looks and other great content, stay tuned to the Gameflip blog. You can also follow us on X, Reddit, Instagram, and Facebook for more news and happenings on the latest savings at Gameflip.

Thanks for reading!

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