I've tried a couple of versions of the demo now, including 0.1.9, and to be honest, I struggle to get into it. I think this is primarily because the planets feel same-y, barren and unpopulated whether they're inhabited or not; hopefully this is something that will change once the full build with the story is done, because some background NPCs would really make a difference. Obviously though, I understand why they wouldn't be in a preliminary story-less build.
Gameplay-wise, I didn't like the default keyboard/mouse controls very much, and having to remember to hold the space bar to leave the ship was frustrating. I also found setting destinations and switching to the banking controls annoying when mouse and keyboard controls seemed to trip over each other in the menus. I also never seemed to be able to reliably close the PDA without button mashing.
I think my main criticism however is movement speed of your character; walking around planets or trying to patch up 900 hull breaches around your ship is like pulling teeth. I don't think it would hurt the work-a-day vibe to just be able to get around quicker; it'd make me feel more inclined to actually explore.
The good news is that I haven't experienced any crash bugs or frame rate issues, and my laptop is extremely ancient so that's saying something. I do think the mechanics of the game work well, even if I'm not sure it'll ultimately be a game for me. I think, for me at least, I need the story in place before I can really settle into the primary loop as intended.
I've loved the Dev Diary series so far, and look forward to its continuation.