I've been reading through the Starfinder source book, Pact Worlds. It's a small book, but fits a lot of information into it, so I'm going to post about sections as I finish them.
Akiton is the fourth planet planet from the Sun in the Golarian solar system, and I have vague memories of it appearing in one of the modules of the Dead Suns adventure path.
Upon my initial read of this section, I felt like the authors had returned to the lacklustre presentation style they'd used for Aballon. There isn't a whole lot of detail in this section, and you're left mostly with a vague impression of the planet. Akiton is basically post-colonial Mars. Outside the cities, it's either desert or ice wastelands. The only concept of what kind of city to expect is from the painting at the start of the section. The rest of the section gives generic descriptions to go along with city names.
I think what I'm missing from the Aballon and Akiton type of sections are significant landmarks. There's a world of difference (so to speak) between Absalom Station and the tales of the Starstone, the arch of the Fardock, and the Swordlight Cathedral and Akiton's list of cities. Imagine a travel agent offering tours of a country by just listing cities with no specific sight-seeing destinations.
However, admitting that Castrovel probably only felt as well developed as it did because I'd already been there in an adventure, I tried searching for the Magic: The Gathering style impression that Akiton was trying to convey. Admittedly, a lot of it reads a lot like the authors were just saying the same thing over and over:
I get it. It's a windy dirt planet.
Then it I started seeing the puzzle pieces.
Akiton is the wild, weird west. Take all of your science fiction cowboy fantasies, and set them on Akiton.
A dusty "western" town with a vibrant nightlife? Maro is New Vegas.
Bounty is Vault 22 from Fallout: New Vegas or the greenhouse level from Wasteland.
A series of abandoned old mining towns? The Company Towns are ghost towns. Delve into mines for an instant dungeon crawl with ancient loot.
This is western world, plain and simple, and that's good enough for me.
Header photo by Seth Kenlon, Creative Commons cc0.