Like many indie games, Deiland: Pocket Planet started life as a Kickstarter campaign, selling backers on the vision and story of Arco, a prince, and the only inhabitant of a tiny planet. It draws heavily on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s ‘The Little Prince’, and combines the relaxing nature of farming games, the excitement of first person shooters, and the nostalgia of The Little Prince wonderfully.
Deiland keeps you busy with farming, planting trees, hitting rocks, and building on and improving your little planet, as well as defending it from monsters and trading with the friendly visitors that come sporadically. The size of the planet evokes Super Mario Galaxy’s mini planetoids, while the art style’s warm colour palette and soft line work are pleasant and comforting. In tandem with this, the score is melodic and peaceful, helping you relax into life on your own planet.
The other characters are particularly enjoyable and distinct; everyone feels unique in both their interactions with you, and with one another. You first meet Mün, an Interstellar Explorer who guides you through life on your tiny planet, but once you settle down, you’ll receive visits from alien chefs, cat-girls and even a space pirate. The dialogue does feel somewhat stilted and awkward, however, which unfortunately does detract from the interactions.
You don’t have much control over when NPCs decide to visit however, and as they are the ones to give you quests (or chores as they call them), the pacing can be massively affected by this. If no one visits for several days, you unfortunately can’t do much except farm and wait for them to arrive. Occasionally, you’ll be left with chores that seem a challenge at first, usually due to needing a resource you haven’t encountered yet – for me the main one that came under this was horns, which would be dropped after defeating a certain monster. In cases like this, it helps having a goal to work towards, but sadly this isn’t always the case.
Of course, you can always make work for yourself and add life to your planet by planting trees, bushes and flowers, and building structures to vary the landscape. Just like the other characters, the monsters you encounter are widely varied, and drop unique items for you to collect. I would recommend keeping a few of everything on hand as you never know when you’ll need them, and that monster might not spawn again for a while – much like the NPCs.
The battle style is pretty simple, with only the option of attack or moving around to avoid getting hit. As the game progresses, you can fashion magic staffs and use elemental magic, although this still relies on you simply pressing the ‘A’ button – you don’t need to remember anything specific. The staff uses green crystals that connect to the heart crystal of Deiland. These are fairly easy to get a hold of, so you don’t need to hold back using them for both magic and crafting.
Another thing you need to protect your planet from is meteors. When this happens you only need to rotate your planet so that no trees or structures catch fire. Keeping a space for meteors to land helps as you can get seeds and other materials if you break the crystals that form. If you earn enough XP from all of these activities to level up, you’ll be able to improve one of your skills – strength, intelligence, agility or stamina – once you go to sleep that night. Each has its own benefits, from increasing your profits when you sell, to improving the damage in your attacks or magic.
The storyline is interesting, though again, it moves slowly, relying on your in-game progress to propel you forward. Once again, this means you’re subject to the whims of the visiting characters. While the story arc is compelling and magical, the pacing does take away from the enjoyment.
I also found that some features would bug out and occasionally stop working. These included being able to sleep, as well as call certain characters to your planet. A soft reboot fixed this, but was still incredibly frustrating when features would randomly disappear.