deliver us mars takes place ten years after the events of deliver us the moon and this time, as the game title suggests, you will travel to our neighboring planet. You play as a young astronaut, Kathy Johanson, who is part of a team tasked with traveling to Mars to recover vital technology in hopes of saving the dying Earth.
If you’ve played the original game, many of the characters you meet will look familiar. While you can play it as a standalone title, you’ll get a lot more out of it and have a much greater understanding of your team’s history and motives if you play Deliver Us the Moon first.
This time, the story has a much more personal and intimate feeling. While there’s always the backdrop to your mission to save Earth, it’s more the relationships between the various characters that will keep you wanting to keep going and discover more. There are some absolutely fantastic performances from many of the voice actors that really help enhance some of the emotional moments you’ll encounter.
Kathy is not only trying to find technology to help save our home planet, but also to find out what happened to the colonists on Mars, including her father. As she explores, she’ll gain a greater understanding of what’s going on as she finds various collectibles. These come in the form of holograms, text messages, and notes between colonists, which will start to fill in some of the blanks. She is only given small bits of information at a time, but it’s always enough to make her want to continue and find the next clue. What makes things really fascinating is that most of the characters you meet are morally ambiguous. She’ll really start to wonder if what you and your team are doing is the ‘right’ thing to do.
From time to time you will come across various puzzles blocking your way. Things like locked doors where you’ll have to place energy bolts to open them, or unscrambling puzzles that make you move your little flying robot friend Ayla around. These puzzles start out simple but grow in complexity as you progress through the game. None of them are particularly difficult, but that’s really nice, as it means the pace of the game never slows down. You will be constantly pushing forward to try to figure out the next part of the story.
One of the big new mechanics in the game is climbing. Kathy is much more agile than the original astronaut and can scale using her ice pick to travel across surfaces on Mars, or along the fabric insulation inside the space station. You’ll control each arm separately, manually repositioning each spike and then using the L2 and R2 triggers to drive your spikes into the wall to climb. It seems neat at first and it’s easy to get into a rhythm of toggling between triggers, but it quickly gets boring.
There’s a reason most games allow your character to automatically level up. Having to do it manually is not only time consuming but also tiring your fingers. There are a few accessibility options, like only having to use one of the triggers, but you’ll still hold it down constantly, so none of the options really help. It can also be quite finicky every time you have to jump across gaps to the next scalable section, and more often than not you’ll end up launching yourself in the wrong direction to your untimely death.
There are a number of different environments that you will be able to explore, not just the red sands of Mars, but also a space station, an icy valley, and some scenes on Earth. There is definitely something very beautiful and serene about driving a space rover across the desolate landscape, or looking through a porthole into the depths of the cosmos. So it’s a bit of a shame that Earth is less than visually impressive. The setting tends to be used for flashbacks that tell Kathy’s backstory, but they lose some of their emotional impact due to slower frame rates and frequent popups, which are much less noticeable in the rest of the game.
Unfortunately, we ran into a couple of bugs during our six to eight hour game, such as not being able to interact with the mechanisms needed to open doors. For the most part, the game’s frequent autosave means that a quick reload never slows you down too much. However, we ran into an annoying situation where the game automatically saved us right in front of a deadly spinning fan, meaning we were stuck in a reload cycle to instant death. The only way we managed to resolve that was by completely resetting the chapter.
However, many of these issues are fairly minor and don’t stop Deliver Us Mars from being a brilliantly engaging adventure. Sure, the puzzles are simple enough, but there are enough epic set pieces, intriguing collectibles, story twists, and a wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack to keep you fully interested in seeing Kathy’s journey through to the end. Developer KeokeN Interactive definitely built on the successes of the first game to create another heartwarming story that will keep your attention throughout the runtime.
Deliver Us Mars has a compelling sci-fi story that will keep you thinking long after the credits roll. There are a few small issues, like a boring climbing mechanic and frame rate drops on Earth, but with some fantastic voice acting, it’s easy to really get invested in the characters and the fate of humanity. The simple puzzles do a good job of giving your brain a bit of a workout without being so demanding that it slows down the pace of the action. Overall, this is a great follow-up that offers a compelling sci-fi narrative.
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