I often imagine what it would be like alone in the wild, having to fend for myself. With no Amazon Prime sorting next-day delivery goodness, or a 24-hour Tescos around the corner, I’m not sure how I’d cope. In fact, I don’t think I’d fare very well at all and by day two will no doubt be eaten by a bear. It’s this set up with which Deiland: Pocket Planet comes in, but it doesn’t just put you into the wild itself, it throws you onto a small planet, left alone in the universe. It’s not long though before you start getting visited by friends, as you begin to understand that you aren’t alone in the universe.
Survival and farming games have become the go-to entertainment package of choice since the popularity of Animal Crossing got kids and adults hooked alike. There have been loads of games arrive in the genre, copying the usual formula of farming resources, growing crops, and fighting monsters. However, Deiland: Pocket Planet is different.
You play Arco who at the start of the game is happily found on their own, travelling across a little planet collecting rocks and wood, growing some crops. Along comes a visitor on their spaceship, and drip feeds you some of the narrative, but most importantly they give you hints and progression tips for how to move forward in the game. The first visitor also teaches you how to craft, fish, and kill alien monsters. As you move through the game you spend time with new visitors and go to additional planets, but whilst the narrative and story aren’t really the main focus, the characters are family-friendly and it delivers an interesting premise.
The gameplay mechanics are what makes Deiland: Pocket Planet interesting and, thankfully, the control system is quite simple to use. The basic needs for Arco are that he gets fed, keeps himself well-rested, and doesn’t die by losing health from fighting monsters. It’s here where you’ll need to keep fed, all by farming, planting crops, watching them grow and then eating them. He can also find food items around the planet by shaking bushes or collecting mushrooms from the ground. There’s the chance to craft items as well, like an axe early on, created by collecting wood and rocks then combining them together in a recipe. You can chop down trees with the axe and build more things from there; buckets for water or a campfire. There is also some fishing to be had because, well, everyone loves a bit of fishing. This does however consist of strange QTE events that are troublesome to master.
There’s combat too, and this consists of fighting creatures and aliens around the planet who are dead set on destroying your homeland. This is a nice, rather welcome, distraction from farming – at least to begin with. But after a while it does start to become a tad annoying. .
Deiland: Pocket Planet all works fine and it initially seems to be an ideal place to be stranded. But I have found progression to be a strange thing, mostly waiting around until a visitor would come along to move the story forward. I also found that resources are a bit problematic in the early period, especially when you forget to plant a seed and you’re left waiting an age for more. In fact, there are many moments where you’ll find yourself just hanging around, waiting for something to happen. Perhaps this would be different if we were playing on Nintendo Switch or mobile, but it just doesn’t quite feel right for the Xbox platform.
Deiland: Pocket Planet comes with a lovely cartoony aesthetic about it. There are some great colour schemes and the hand-drawn comic book stills are nice. The characters look decent too, as does the design of the little planets you wander around on. It is a nice place to spend some time and is very family-friendly, complemented neatly by the chilled out soundtrack and grand effects.
Deiland: Pocket Planet is a very family-friendly game, one that is complete with cartoony vibes and inoffensive gameplay which is full of imagination. The concept itself is an unusual one, mixing farming sim ideas with planet progression. Yet whilst the visuals and soundtrack are nice, making progression does sometimes seem to take an age. If you’re after some alone time though, Deiland: Pocket Planet might just be for you.
Deiland: Pocket Planet is available on Xbox from the Xbox Store