In a pitch meeting somewhere in Spain, someone suggests… What about Stardew Valley, but on a planet? Everyone is on board, and Deiland: Pocket Planet is born. But, of course, that isn’t the case, and to see this as a Stardew Valley, BUT… game is doing it a massive disservice.
What you have here is a game that is part farming sim, part emotional story based on the tale The Little Prince as you take on the role of Arco, who, as the smallest of children, is sent to look after the smallest planet. As Arco, you must grow crops, farm, meet new people to befriend them and all the usual trappings. But there is something about Deiland that just stuck with me.
It didn’t hit me for quite some time that this is from the same team who made the decent but flawed Summer in Mara. However, a few moments made me check things with a Google search, and sure enough, we have a game here that I believe is a shared universe, with some character making an appearance in both games. Let me state I didn’t play the original Deiland release, so Pocket Planet is my first foray. It may not be news to some, but it was to me.
I absolutely adored the general gameplay loop of farming, cultivating, meeting and greeting others, taking care of animals and watching my planet evolve through various seasons that all affect how things play out—the whole thing is driven by an interesting narrative generally well-paced.
I have had Deiland sitting in my library for a while due to my vision issues, but I am glad I finally got to play it. Whilst it is not the vast experience of Stardew Valley, I found the smaller area and more personal feel to be easier to work through. It is super chill in all, the right places, and hits all the correct beats for either letting you relax or progressing the game forward.
There is some grinding involved, but as with any game in this genre, that is expected. However, I was very nearly put off by the inclusion of a hunger meter. I have gone on record many times to say how I despise these mechanics, as they are usually too aggressive. No person dies because they haven’t eaten for a few hours (as much as my son claims that’ll happen to him!), but when a game includes a hunger, thirst, etc, meter, it just breaks the experience. Whilst I’d rather it wasn’t in Deiland, it is actually one of the better-implemented versions, to the point I nearly forgot it was there at times, allowing me to enjoy the main loops of the game.
CHIBIG has ticked all the boxes on making a solid game in Deiland: Pocket Planet. Unfortunately, nothing stands out as spectacular or as a major selling point. However, everything is done well and makes an experience I looked back on with so much fondness. It has a charm that really carries it through.
Summer of Mara was a game that just missed the mark by a small amount, but it seems lessons have been learned, and Deiland: Pocket Planet is just a lovely game to have on the Switch. I can easily recommend it if given a chance.
Deiland Pocket Planet is out now on Nintendo Switch for around £18