With looters and shooters, and all kinds of ‘ooters in the current limelight of today’s gaming climate, sometimes you just need to take a step back, put on some burbling river sounds and sit in an uncomfortable pretzel yoga position for a change of pace. Or better yet, play a video game that makes you feel all those “peaceful and conflict free” emotions minus the prospective chiropractor visit. Well, if that sounds good to you, then let me tell you about a game that lead me to my Zen place; Deiland.
Strawberry Fields Forever
The story of Deiland takes place in a time when gifted children were sent to planets in order to awaken the magic kept inside the planet’s core. Our young hero, Arco, is the youngest of these children and therefore is tasked with caring for the smallest planet called Deiland. Arco doesn’t have much in the line of memories before he was sent to his little planet, but luckily, he will meet up with a host of peculiar space travelers that are willing to lend him a hand in figuring things out.
Deiland was originally a mobile game called Deiland: Tiny Planet, but due to its growing popularity the developer Chibig decided to remaster their adorable little space adventure and release it on the PlayStation 4. A Kickstarter campaign followed closely thereafter for a PC release and now it’s also available on Steam for those who are interested. It was really a pleasant surprise to see how few “mobile” elements this console version retained. Upon starting this game, I had no idea it was a mobile port until doing some research later on. That is a major accomplishment in my eyes especially after the mobile port disaster I faced with Marenian Tavern Story.
Eight Days a Week
The gameplay in Deiland is similar to most other sandbox games, but with some added RPG elements. There are fields to cultivate, trees to chop, animals to raise, bushes to forage, mines to…mine in, and even a tiny lake for fishing. Ahh, fishing minigames… the bane of my existence in any sim game apparently. Even with a fully upgraded fishing rod I still managed to struggle. That’s not the fault of the developer though… I’m just not a fisherman at heart.
Monsters of varying levels of adorableness will randomly appear on your planet as well and Arco will immediately alert you to their presence and location, which is super handy given those butts will wreck your fields if given the chance. You don’t really get weapons to fight off enemies per se, instead you resort to mostly using your tools. However, since this game is all about magic you will eventually be given a sweet staff and new spells with every upgrade. Well, you get a fire spell for 90% of the game then you get dogpiled with the rest at the end, which was a bit of a disappointment. C’mon, I want more opportunities to abuse this frog spell dang it!
All You Need is Love
In the beginning you’re only given a little tent to sleep in once Arco tires from his planetary cultivation, but eventually you can upgrade to bigger houses that come equipped with a workshop, kitchen, and laboratory. Also, as you gain experience you won’t level up until Arco sleeps and any experience gained after the gauge is full is lost to the ether. I learned that the painful way! Let the boy sleep!
The artwork for Deiland is nothing short of spectacular. The fabulous use of intense and contrasting colors just adds to the game’s already peaceful and feel-good ambience. The character portraits accompanying each bit of dialogue are probably some of my favorite to date. Even with just a few basic expressions, you can really see each character’s personality shine through. Especially Arco in all his charming naivete.
The soundtrack equally adds to the balmy and serene milieu of Deiland. I love that each character has their own song that plays when they are near or having a conversation with Arco.
With a Little Help From My Friends
In no particular order, other than their first appearances, various space travelers will visit Deiland. Some just looking to sell their wares, some looking to take advantage of little Arco’s sweet nature and others are looking for both! A little icon will appear at the top of the screen when one is ready to land, and you need to shift the planet and chose a safe place for them to set down. Meteors will also hit Deiland and that’s really where that nifty planet shifting mechanic comes in handy. If those rocks hit anything on your planet it’s toast and you’ll lose the materials it would have given you as well! Luckily, it’s pretty easy to guide them to the nearest barren spot and once you break them open there’s usually good stuff inside.
Eventually, your best friend and most frequent visitor Mun will offer to take you to a new planet in her spaceship. The area you get to explore is pretty small, but it has lots of enemies and plenty of tasks to undertake to keep the game’s momentum going.
Across the Universe
Storywise Deiland is more about learning about the past than trying to reach any particular end goal. You have to collect pages from a storybook that tells a cautionary tale about a boy just like Arco. Pages are gained through various quests with Mun and other visitors. There is an “end boss” of sorts, but it’s fairly anticlimactic and you pretty much just get sent right back to Deiland to continue your business once it’s over. There was definitely room left in the story for a sequel if Chibig ever decided to graciously bless us with one.
So, if you couldn’t already tell, I fully endorse this game with my recommendation. It was a sweet little bit of tranquility hidden in a PSN store sale. It was well worth whatever ridiculously low price I paid for it and I’m going to wait (not so) patiently for this developer’s next project: Summer in Mara due out this coming winter!