I’m not much of a games player in general. I have a couple of old favorites I dip into occasionally, but apart from that, my gaming days are long gone. There’s no dramatic reason behind that, other than I find most games (like most movies!) to be just rehashes of the same tired ideas. Plus it’s hard to justify investing the large amount of time into them that many require.
So it was somewhat of a surprise when an online post about a game caught my eye. First of all I was drawn by the idea that this was more of a science-based game, and second of all, it was free for black-cyber-monthday. After checking out a couple of game trailers, I thought I’d give it a try, and here I am, having completed my first new game in several years! I got it it through Epic Games, but it may be available elsewhere.
In the game, you guide a young girl through a series of adventures that together, and through the use of cut-scenes, tell an intriguing story of the girl’s loss of her father (who went missing on an unauthorized attempt to create a settlement on Mars) and her subsequent attempts to find him.
The challenges in the game are in the form of puzzles and figuring how to operate things, or get systems to work. This is an interesting take on game development, and a refreshing change from the kill-anything-that-moves(TM) that seems to be the core of most games. This makes the game more thoughtful and involving, and there are some genuinely touching moments.
As well as running, crouching, and jumping, the main character, Kathy, sometimes brings out a couple of climbing axes that she can use to scale various surfaces. In many ways it’s a 3rd person, 3D platform game with a great story that exposes both the history of what is behind the Mars mission, as well as Kathy’s relationships with her family.
The game autosaves as you progress, making it easy to dip in and out of. That makes it great for someone like me who’s not looking to invest a lifetime in a game. Overall it was a great deal of fun and had a nicely fulfilling ending.
The storyline is interesting, and the voice acting is exceptionally good for the most part. The environments are well put together and mostly compelling. The realization of Mars’ surface feels very dramatic and properly daunting. The technology on display is also largely realistic (more on that later). I enjoyed the puzzles overall. The graphics probably weren’t up to what is currently considered Triple-A standard, but that was more than compensated for by the intriguing aspects of the story. The graphics in the trailers were higher quality, but that’s almost certainly down to the fact that my video card is far from being the latest spec. They were certainly good enough to trigger clear sensations of vertigo in some places!
It was also good to see that the characters weren’t “hypersexualized’ like many are these days. The characters all wore skintight clothing, which seems to have become somewhat standard for depictions of sci-fi clothes or space suits, but at least they were largely identical for the male and female characters.
What’s Not So Good?
I was disappointed by the gravity of Mars. The planet’s surface gravity is about a third of Earth’s, but when moving, the characters seemed more like they were in Earth gravity. While this is common in movies and TV due to the difficulty and cost involved in shooting things realistically in a lower gravity environment, I was surprised by this, as in a game environment, setting the gravity level is fairly easy.
Some of the puzzles are rather obscure, and even when you figure them out you’re left thinking “Huh?” They weren’t always logical, which I’m sure is difficult to maintain throughout a game like this. I also ran into a few glitches where it seemed I hadn’t passed Go, or touched all the bases, or something and ended up stuck. The most humorous of these was where I managed to end up in a surface rover that was invisible but could still drive, even though I had no idea where I was going! 🙂 I’m pleased to say that these went away when I restarted the game, or sometimes by skipping back to the start of a section.
Overall, Deliver Us Mars was a fun, action-oriented game with a decent level of challenge that managed to entertain me for several days (on and off). As I was playing it, I couldn’t help thinking that you could do something similar featuring Joe Ballen or Hyperia Jones from my books. I’ve since discovered that the game is a sequel to “Deliver Us the Moon” by the same company, KeokeN Interactive, and as a result have bought the first installment too. Hopefully that will be as much fun as its sequel.
A great buy if you like story-based adventure and action, and highly recommended! 9/10!