Deiland was previously released on mobile devices back in 2016. It had a free-to-play model and regardless of opinions on that, it still received a rather strong reception. So naturally, Chibig felt inspired to bring their little gem to PC and console. They weren’t willing to lazily throw it over either, just overhauling the graphical integrity to, I suppose, meet standards. With changes in the graphics, mechanics, narrative and music, this isn’t some haphazardly tossed together port.
Deiland strives to deliver an engrossing, relaxing experience. After playing for several hours, I have mixed thoughts on it. While I do believe it has intriguing mechanics, it falters in the execution. As is, the transition between platforms is rocky at best. By the end of it, I did settle on a curious conclusion. What is it? Join me as I take a deep dive!
A BOY AND HIS PLANET!
Deiland tells a narrative inspired by a novella entitled “The Little Prince”. It opens with a crystal soaring through space and descending upon a dwarf planet. Before it touches down, it transforms into a little boy. His name is Arco and once he lands, he’ll get straight to work cultivating the land. Life on the tiny planet, however, gets pretty isolating. Thankfully, he eventually has visitors zooming in. Among them is an interstellar officer whose name is Mūn. She immediately takes a liking to Arco, helping the boy in combat or accompanying him to other planets. After she bids farewell, he finally gets some rest but as he slumbers, a disembodied voice calls out; its words cryptic – what does it want?
VOICES IN SPACE!
The art design is simplistic but beautiful, with an impressive level of detail. It complements the aesthetic perfectly. Deiland is artistically sound but sadly, its literary prowess isn’t comparable. It tries to emulate the charm and whimsy of others in the genre but ultimately falls short. The key issue is characters are stereotypical. While that isn’t inherently an issue, it’s the lack of originality that makes it problematic. In the game, you meet a brutish pirate and a docile old wizard. Neither feels three-dimensional, remaining true to their role. It’s that fear to flesh out characters that leads to robotic dialogue. These hollow husks are a reminder that this is just a game, thus breaking immersion.
The reluctance to explore characters has me feeling perplexed. As it is, they feel like their only purpose is to progress the plot. None of them endeared themselves to me and I was indifferent to any attempted emotion. The reason I believe there’s untapped potential is because of Arco. I loved his childlike innocence as he tried to understand the world around him. My favorite exchange was with Bram. He mentions that his species get pink skin to signal that it’s mating season. Of course, Arco is blissfully unaware of its meaning and makes the wrong assumption. Deiland does have all the necessary tools to stand beside the greats. Sadly, it squanders it, with its problems persisting well into the storyline.
There’s a blatant absence of cohesion with the overall plot. It’s a shame because there are intriguing seeds just begging to sprout up. For instance, that strange voice Arco hears in his sleep. While we get a slight pay-off, it leaves unanswered questions. We never quite learn the purpose of the messages. The explanation given is surface-level at best. I appreciate the lore Chibig tried to establish but can’t help but think of it as unfinished.
Then there’s the last mission; I was shocked it was the end. There was no sense of finality to it. Furthermore, I was growing a bit invested in the plot at that point. Things were getting a bit fascinating. I was eager to find out how it would develop; what direction it would take. Imagine my dismay when the credits began to roll. It left me disappointed and without a sense of closure.
THAT PESKY RNG!
The big conclusion I came to while playing is that Deiland is for beginners. All the mechanics are easy to grasp and the gameplay has been streamlined. It’s the perfect starting point for anyone curious about the slice-of-life genre. Any ingredients needed to craft, cook, or forge can be gathered from one designated spot. In other words, by chiseling at a rock, there’s a chance to acquire: Gold, Silver, Metal, Stone, and even Crystal. This sounds like a nifty quality of life improvement but it actually works to its detriment.
As you progress, Arco gains access to tools he must create himself. These tools are then able to be tempered upwards to three times. Doing so decreases the number of hits it takes to gain materials. Initially, it takes three strikes to do so. Each time you upgrade, that threshold will increase to a maximum of one shot. The issue is there isn’t a set pattern of what‘s given – it’s never persistent. There were a plethora of times I’d consistently get metal and silver. Then there were times I wouldn’t obtain a piece of gold for two, three, or even four minutes. As someone that enjoys grinding, I found this form tedious. While it is alleviated with a fully forged tool, the journey to get there is an arduous one. Moreover, expect it to quickly devolve into brainless button mashing.
The atrocious RNG continues to be a thorn. This time affecting the aforementioned visitors who come at sporadic intervals. In an interesting feature, you can choose where you’d like the ship to descend. This is one of the most unique things about Deiland; being able to manually revolve the planet. Apart from directing traffic, it also allows you to move crops beneath rain clouds and guide meteorites to clearings. Once you direct a vessel to land, the passenger walks out. Then depending on progression conditions, quests come from them. These are never substantial or difficult to complete, ranging from harvesting to killing particular monsters.
Speaking of enemies, the frequency to which they invade is randomized. This is why I think the free-to-play roots are intact. The insane level of RNG is too reliant on luck. If I had to guess, paying a certain sum on mobile likely allowed you to quickly finish a task. That’s tolerable implementation on phones because that’s the Freemium business model. In a game that demands a hefty price, however, that’s not acceptable at all. It seems that balancing was an afterthought during the remake process. It’s a toss-up as to how much time quests will consume, thus relegating me to waiting, and waiting. It rapidly becomes a chore because I was at the mercy of sweet old Lady Luck to smile at me.
NO ADVENTURE FOR YOU!
Amidst the negatives I’ve pointed to, there’s one that’s truly baffling. Since Deiland takes place in space, Arco is able to travel to newer frontiers. Mūn eventually offers to take you away. I was legitimately excited because until then, my scenery was getting stale. As I landed, I was ecstatic to scavenge the brand new area. The first thing I noticed was a never-before-seen mushroom in the distance. I ran over and grabbed it before continuing, only to smack into an invisible wall. That’s right, Deiland was actively discouraging me from exploring. Large sections of the land was blocked off. Furthermore, I was unable to mine or cut down trees to discover exotic materials.
For those anticipating a variety of planets to visit, that isn’t the case. Only two exist in this universe, with one of them being a brief linear run-through. Never-before-seen monsters do walk the grounds but the different species are limited. Combine that with locked-off sections and this explains why the RNG for monster encounters is so chaotic. Because there’s only one viable area to spawn, it leaves the pool it draws from congested. I can’t help but think if they better utilized the second planet, this may have been rectified. As it stands, its only use is housing three characters that could easily just be given ships, nullifying its need altogether.
MY VEGGIES ARE GLITCHED!
My session lasted roughly 15 hours. In that time, the game was mostly stable with a consistent frame rate. I, however, did stumble on two oddities, with one causing me to have to fully reset Deiland. The inconsequential one occurred while in the mine. One of the rocks had lost its collision detection, letting me walk through it.
The second hiccup occurred during a quest that required certain enemies to be killed. After waiting a few minutes, 5 finally attacked my farm. I followed the arrows indicating their position but found nothing at the end of it. Thinking nothing of this, I followed another, only to suffer the same outcome. Then from the corner of my eye, I saw it. Each one had walked upwards towards the sky. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw it. Not because I had no choice but to reset, but because these creatures got a head start towards video game heaven. Thankfully, Deiland saves regularly and so, I never lost more than ten minutes at a time.
AND THE SPACEY VERDICT IS…
Deiland is a mobile remake with all the potential to flourish. Regrettably, it struggles to find its footing on consoles, retaining the quirks from being on the phone. The characters are largely robotic and bland, following stereotypes with no attempt to innovate. The game plays it safe but does so in exchange for substance. Still, I must commend Arco because I quite liked his character. His child innocence was evident and his speech patterns were distinct to his age. Chibig clearly has very talented developers on the team. The writers know how to create lore and build curiosity amongst gamers. There’s charm hidden beneath all the RNG but it’s also overshadowed.
This game won’t fill any void a fan might have for the slice-of-life genre. Like I mentioned, I do believe the streamlined mechanics make it an ideal introduction to newcomers. For veterans, I have to declare that;
DEILAND IS NOT RECOMMENDED
Many thanks to Chibig for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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Painfully single, but still somehow a master of dad jokes. If asked, he’ll answer it’s for his inner child. Fabio enjoys JRPG’s and has embraced his anime love.