The steady stream of chilled-out farming games continues with Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition. Coming from Chibig, the studio behind last year’s charming (if a little rough) Summer in Mara, it’s a “reimagining” of a remake of their very first game—what started as a humble mobile game got remade for PlayStation 4 and PC a couple of years ago, and that remake now comes to Switch with a bunch of new features and tweaks. It’s a little on the simplistic side, but an interesting setting and the relaxing nature of the genre make it a nice way to unwind for a few hours.
Right from the start, Deiland stands out: where most farming sims have you inheriting an old farm, this one opens with a scene of a crystal hurtling towards the eponymous tiny little uninhabited planet, before transforming into a young boy. This kid—Arco is his name—doesn’t seem to find anything odd about this whole situation, and quickly settles into life a simple life of picking berries and carefree living. When a member of the Interstellar Patrol Force shows up and teaches him how to make a hoe, Arco’s farm life begins in earnest.
As you can probably guess, Arco, Deiland, and the Interplanetary Patrol Force have their share of mysteries. As various travellers visit Deiland (and, later, as Arco visits other planets), these mysteries slowly start to reveal themselves. Arco and Deiland may be small, but they’re destined for big things.
It’s a fun setup that creates a curious backdrop, but at its core, Deiland is a classic farm life sim: you’ll grow crops, plant trees, catch fish, mine rocks and metals, and generally just enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of this little planet that’s all yours. Seasons come and go (a new feature in Pocket Planet Edition), tool upgrades let you improve your harvest, craftable decorations let you customise your world a little bit, and so on—the standard, always reliable farming fare.
Regular visitors bring with them a chance to buy and sell items, and more importantly, quests that let you unlock new things and start piecing together Deiland‘s bigger mysteries. The quests themselves tend to be straightforward and not especially remarkable, but the characters are a quirky delightful bunch (and if you’ve played Summer of Mara, you may recognise a few). Their stories all overlap, too, with progress through each character’s series of tasks often dependent on the progress of others.
Occasional monster spawns add a layer of action—not so frequently that they overshadow the laid-back nature of the game, but regularly enough to add a little bit of variety to the mix. They’re also a crucial source of materials that you often can’t get anywhere else, and give some nice experience points to help Arco level up, making him a better farmer and fighter both (and also letting you enjoy some truly gorgeous artwork on the level-up screen, with different pieces representing different stats).
There’s nothing here that really pushes the boundaries, and even the core systems are relatively simplistic—with relatively few crops, short seasons that don’t affect anything already planted, and no crop quality elements, there isn’t the need to micromanage things or the scope to really go deep. Instead, Deiland focuses on the atmosphere, on taking it slow and enjoying being in the moment.
Sometimes it focuses on that a little too much, though. Visitors and their quests are the main source of progression, but they’re dependent on random events that are regular but not especially frequent. It’s not uncommon to find yourself with nothing at all to do while you wait for the next arrival—your fields are all growing, you’ve crafted everything you need and haven’t yet unlocked further upgrades to work towards, so you just… do nothing while you wait for someone to arrive. Maybe mine some rocks, which are a readily available infinite resource.
That sort of downtime is fine in small bursts, but in Deiland it happens a lot. You’re not just waiting for visitors, either, but often for the things you need to complete their quests—if you need to craft something with a material that can only be obtained from a monster, you’re waiting for monsters to actually spawn. Even then, if the wrong monster shows up, or you don’t get the drop you need, you’re left waiting for the next one. The way different quest lines all depend on the progress of one another means it’s not uncommon for a single quest to block the progress of everything else, and if what you need isn’t something you can actually work towards, all you can do is wait.
It’s not waiting you can do outside the game, either, like you can in Animal Crossing. There’s nothing tied to real-life passage of time or the system clock, and beyond growing crops, even the flow of time in-game doesn’t affect much—so just repeatedly sleeping to “fast-forward” doesn’t help much, either. It’s just waiting, in-game, for a random event that finally lets you proceed. Needless to say, that’s frustrating.
But if you can deal with that, Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition is a fun little farm sim, one that lacks depth but makes up for in charm and the uniqueness of its setting. Put your favourite comfort show on TV and play this while you’re half-watching, and you’ve got a nice way to unwind and turn your mind off for a spell.
A review copy was provided to Shindig by the publisher.