Palworld Early Access Review – Fusion of Survival and Monster Catching Falls Short of Evolution

REVIEW – If the idea of a game blending monster-catching with survival elements sparks your interest, Palworld could be your next playground. In this highly anticipated game, you can battle alongside your Pals, wield weapons, design your base, and much more. Drawing from the world of Pokémon and infusing every cliché you’d expect from an open-world survival genre, Palworld attempts to deliver the best of both worlds. But does it succeed?



From the latest offerings of the Xbox Game Pass, we delved into the recently controversial Palworld, stirring up a storm both for its striking resemblance to Pokémon games and its ‘trade with humans’ feature, which could remind the more sensitive souls of some of the darkest periods in history.

So, what’s Palworld really like? This game is a genuine virtual adventure park: an open world where we collect monsters, survive, spiced up with a dash of action-packed role-playing. The game borrows so much from various genres that it initially leaves us bewildered. The creators of Palworld, the Pocketpair team, aren’t new to this genre-mixing game. Their other survival game, Craftopia, also in early access, was born as if the team threw all their favorite games into a hat. Palworld follows a similar path, but with a stronger focus on monster-catching compared to Craftopia.


A Palworld, egy frissen piacra dobott videojáték, azonnal nagy port kavart a Steam közösségében, mivel vádak érték digitális emberkereskedelem miatt.


Just a Pokémon Clone?


Let’s face the obvious: the creatures in this game strikingly resemble Pokémon. I’m not saying the creature design is a mere cheap imitation, but the legendary game designer Ken Sugimori’s style has been perfectly recreated in Palworld, and this surely isn’t just a coincidence. Add to that the capture mechanics, familiar creature types, and the Pal Spheres you use to catch Pals, and you might just forget this is an entirely different series.

The art of Palworld evokes mixed feelings. While the Pals generally look impressive, and surprisingly, the design is quite clever (for those who appreciate this style, of course…), it’s hard not to attribute this to Sugimori’s distinctive style. It’s undeniable that some Pals strikingly resemble familiar Pokémon. The fire-breathing Foxparks, for example, reminds us of the iconic and adorable Vulpix, and that’s just one example. Anubis is similar to Lucario, Dinossom closely resembles Meganium, and Boltmane clearly reminds us of Luxray. Yet, many Pals are original and charismatic, with unique animations that set them apart from random creatures or mere Pokémon replicas.

Palworld brings a twist to the typical recipe of its major competitors by excluding the evolutionary aspect. You take your creatures to a breeding farm where they can lay eggs, which might hatch into rare Pals or special variations of Pals. I appreciate this diversity; it adds a real flavor to the survival experience. The fact that these are not treated as separate Pals is an advantage and adds excitement to the game, as there’s always an opportunity for new, unusual Pal pairings, discovering even more variations. Pals form a versatile team with several special abilities, such as weapon handling, adept maneuvering in the terrain, or functioning as reliable combat companions, even when they are not resting in their Pal Spheres.

In the vast world of Palworld, there are rare Pal specimens with abilities unusual for their kind. Each Pal has a unique style, which significantly spices up their behavior at your base. There are lazy types and diligent workers, and some have a strange mix of positive and negative traits, giving you always a reason to catch more Pals of the same species. Different species have different skills. Some can help in the kitchen, others can do crafts for you, while others take care of your garden. Some are true all-rounders with multiple skills, making them invaluable.



Thrown into the Deep End, in the Middle of Nowhere


Like many other survival games, Palworld throws you into the deep end: you find yourself in an unknown location, and it’s up to you to discover the exciting parts of the game. It’s a strange thing because sometimes I’m not even sure if I’m having fun or just think I am. But one thing’s for sure: you’re never out of things to do. You’ll always have something to craft, materials to collect, Pals to catch, levels to gain, mining to do, building, and planning your base.

Somehow, I still feel lost here. Palworld may remind you of Pokémon or even resemble a Pokémon island, but it’s actually more about survival than collecting creatures. When I see familiar creatures, mechanics, and artistic styles, I naturally miss a familiar game structure. Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite come together in this world.

Palworld’s real genre jumble might attract a wider audience for sure, but it might also turn others off for the same reasons. If you’re not into survival games, brace yourself for frequent hunger mechanics, constant need for materials and base redesigns, unexpected invasions, unlocking better structures, and more. There’s a good chance you’ll spend more time dealing with the game’s crafting and survival mechanics than engaging in monster battles and captures.

Despite this, I find the monster-catching aspect of Palworld quite captivating. Once you get a decent weapon and befriend capable Pals, battling huge bosses becomes an exhilarating experience. Since Pals have different types, work suitability, drops, and attacks, each feels distinctly unique. Although the combat mechanics are somewhat basic, you need to stay alert to your surroundings when dealing with dangerous creatures. Initially, this gameplay loop is immersive and exciting, but it does become monotonous over time, offering little else.

If you enjoy survival games and like the idea of teaming up with friends to endure the harsh nights, Palworld allows you to invite friends into your world. While a co-op mode isn’t necessary to enjoy the game, it’s undoubtedly a fantastic addition. It’s a pity, though, that Palworld launched in early access without a competitive mode to battle it out with your Pals.



Needs More Polish and Depth


As an early access game, Palworld clearly shows its developmental stage. While still playable, enjoyable, and fun, it’s hard to overlook performance issues. During building and crafting, you may encounter inexplicable collision issues. Sometimes, with no obstacles in your way, the game won’t let you build a wall, while other times it will let you build a chest inside a rock. There’s also a lack of animations, the world feels generic and empty, dungeons are boring, and exploration leaves much to be desired.

Furthermore, the Pals themselves require further refinement. They don’t always behave as they should, often going underground, ignoring their enemies, or eating all your food for no reason. Some might just forget how to walk up a ramp or stairs, while others decide they’d rather sleep than finish a task you just assigned them.

Sadly, the issues don’t stop there. I’ve encountered bugs where human enemies freeze at my base, doing nothing even when attacked. I’ve seen them stuck in rocks or staircases, standing there for minutes before floating away and disappearing.



Fun for a While, Then You Realize Its Shallow Nature


Although Palworld can provide an enjoyable experience for a while, it’s ultimately shallow and easy to grow tired of. It feels like halves of two different games that, when put together, don’t make a whole. In this game, there’s always something to do, but unless you enjoy constant back and forth for materials, Palworld will likely frustrate you in the end. The same goes if you don’t want to keep searching for more efficient Pals to make your base work as you want it to.

Palworld does have its moments of promise, and there was still charm after my initial excitement, but I wouldn’t say it’s without flaws. The game, in its current early access state, seems like it hasn’t quite found its final form; the world feels half-baked. For every enjoyable element, there’s something frustrating or not working properly. It won’t appeal to everyone, especially not those looking for a robust monster-catching adventure or a deeply functional survival game. However, if you’re looking for a casual game that dabbles in both genres and is clearly in early access, Palworld might be a pleasant way to pass the time.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-


+ Spectacular and unique Palok design
+ Versatile abilities and diverse Pal variations
+ Possibility of friendly cooperative game mode


– Technical errors and performance issues
– Monotonous, lifeless world and boring caves
– Gameplay becomes monotonous over time, offering little innovation

Publisher: Pocketpair

Developer: Pocketpair

Style: Open world, survival, action RPG, monster hunter

Release: January 19, 2024.

Palworld Early Access

Gameplay - 6.8
Graphics - 7
Story - 6.5
Music/Audio - 6.7
Ambience - 6.5



Palworld is an ambitious experiment that combines monster-catching with survival game elements but somehow fails in both aspects. While it holds potential, the current state of the game is more frustrating than enjoyable, riddled with technical issues and a monotonous gameplay. Recommended for those open to a unique genre mix, but patience is required during its early development phase.   

User Rating: 2.84 ( 1 votes)

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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