Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition has an instantaneous appeal to it. Set almost entirely on a tiny planet, it operates like a fairly traditional life sim, in line with Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, and Chibig’s other game, Summer In Mara. Also like their previous game, it isn’t without fault. Despite constantly being made aware of your cosmic journey, it never really succeeds in offering anything you can’t get better elsewhere. Its premise is great but, in action, its Earth feels a bit flat.
Calling it Earth is probably grounding it a little too much. Deiland is still quite a fantastical game and does a lot to make itself seem mystical. This is a little strange when you’re farming with carrots and wheat and herding sheep. In a technical sense, there’s a reason to have instantly identifiable objects and recipes but it does point at some interesting aspects of the world itself. You play the role of the prince of Deiland, a tiny, self-sustaining planet until you start to meet adventurers, pirates, and aliens. They all need favors and all give you a little something in return.
The gameplay loop is a simple one — you have to farm crops, break stone, and mine wood in order to get better tools and more things to build. Using your trusty hammer, you can build a well to carry more water or a pen to house sheep. This is reasonably fun but loses steam very quickly. Crafting systems have little depth and, although there is a hunger bar, the faux survival mechanics mean very little. You can never eat and still do perfectly fine, you can sleep whenever and never really miss anything.
An energy bar holds you back from consistently mining or chopping but there is no real choice to be made each day. You wake up, mine, head back to sleep. It rarely feels like you’re prioritizing one over the other and have plenty of time to do everything. What does help to break the monotony of each day is the multitude of visitors you find on Deiland.
They come down, give you a chore, and you do what they ask to get a slightly better relationship with them. It’s a pretty nice idea that has your recipes and inventory constantly growing but it also slows down the game to a crawl at multiple points. In Deiland, you are subject to the whims of visitors and events. If you want to sleep, you have to wait there and do nothing for minutes while someone comes down. You can’t sleep or do certain tasks until they’ve visited and left again.
As well as the strange decisions of friendly encounters, bugs were prevalent in my time with Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition. Sometimes it was small like a crop or animal getting stuck, other times, days did not move or my character went through walls in the central cave. A restart will fix this but they happened just frequently enough to get rather tiring. For every nice thing in Deiland, there was a worse thing bringing that experience down.
The general aesthetic of the game is rather nice, having small cutscenes and character screens hand-drawn and the rest with a child-friendly blockiness to it. The music and sound design are comforting in the way a good life sim is but the gameplay just doesn’t hit the right notes. To put it bluntly, Deiland’s gameplay isn’t nearly deep enough to stay interesting for long. You can get new tasks and even visit another planet but the basic gameplay is more or less unchanged. Magic and targeting are awkward and most actions feel repetitious after mere minutes. While it attempts rudimentary combat, it is too easy and too clunky to provide any real fun.
This all being said, Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition isn’t without its upsides. It’s still a comforting life sim game and customizing your tiny planet is something I’d love to see explored more in the future. The way it explores the story through visitors is interesting and building up your resources to work towards a bigger goal is as fun here as it is in other crafting games. At a cheap price and with little expectations, you could probably get a decently enjoyable time out of Deiland but its monotonous gameplay and tedious progression leave a lot to be desired
Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition — Verdict
We’ve had some pretty great life sim games on the Nintendo Switch over the last year. From the huge release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons to the more recent releases of Littlewood and Cozy Grove, players are spoiled for choice. Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition points at the mysticism of the galaxy and offers you the choices of a single tiny planet. It gestures at something much larger but never feels like you’re really allowed to explore.
TechRaptor reviewed Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by the publisher.
- The Idea Itself is Good
- Some Nice Systems
- Quite Constrictive
- A Little Shallow