A fun and enjoyable review on an indie game that tries something a little different.
It’s a pure exploration and logic game as you explore the depths of Mars. I really enjoyed this budget title that too few people tried out and I think its worth the time and effort. Check out my review on Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/id/KingIsaacLinksr/recommended/227200/. Curator: http://steamcommunity.com/groups/kingisaaclinksr/curation/app/227200/. This was one of my more recent recommendations so it didn’t get too many overall changes. Mostly, I touched on the PC port quality and settings plus cleaned up the grammar used. The blog review has also had some updates done to the format.
A Paladin’s Steam Review: Waking Mars. Enjoyable Exploration Extraordinaire.
- Genre: 2D Light Platformer, Exploration and Light Metroidvania
- Developed & Published by: Tiger Style
- Platform: Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Android and iOS.
- Business Model: Base Game
- Copy Purchased by Myself
Overall Gameplay Thoughts
Waking Mars is a 2D platformer that’s light on exploration and heavy on exploring the depths of a fictional Mars. Through this narrative driven story, you’ll need to figure out how the plant and animal life interact with each other. Each area has a required amount of biomass so you’ll need to solve the puzzle of the area while using physics to move plants or objects around to grow them. There isn’t any combat in Waking Mars but you can potentially die thanks to lava and some aggressive species. So, you’ll need to use your jetpack and wits to survive. All of which is to be learned by the player as they go along. There’s unlocks to find and secrets to discover too.
Overall Story Thoughts
The year is 2097 on Mars. You play as a astronaut named Liang who is accompanied by an AI named “ART”. He is teamed up with another astronaut named Amani who assists by analyzing the data he brings in and being helpful support. At first, Liang is at an outpost that was built for this mission to Mars to explore the Lethe caves. The mission is to find the alien life that had been detected by scouts years ago. Liang is contemplative, quiet and mostly a loner. Amani is more of a upbeat, friendly kind of person. She acts as support and isn’t playable in the game though you’ll have plenty of conversations. They have pretty good chemistry and bounce off each other well. ART is an artificial intelligence who speaks like he’s an AI from some bad 70s movie. ART…well, he’s “cute” at first but his computerized speech can get on your nerves as the game progresses.
Liang and his team have been sent to Mars after an initial recon of the planet discovered life on the red planet. You play as Liang as he travels into the depths of the Mars caverns named “Lethe cavern”. There he will find the strange lifeforms and begin unraveling the mystery of Mars. The outpost he was working out of is destroyed due to an accident and Liang must return to base camp or run out of oxygen. The conditions on the surface of Mars are too harsh to travel over. So, Liang has to travel through the depths of Lethe cavern to reach the base camp. The caves are filled with dangerous hazards & deadly lifeforms but its also filled with life and intrigue for Liang. His curiosity leads him to continue exploring the depths of Lethe cavern. You’ll have to discover for yourself what those mysteries are. Its an enjoyable story really and the lack of violence really helps keep this game focused on exploration.
I did have one major issue with this game’s story however and that was the ending. It ends abruptly, regardless of which ending you choose. No explanation for what will happen to the planet or the lifeforms you meet. No explanation for what waking up Mars will do for the planet or even the human society. Just nothing. It irritates me to end when a game leaves you hanging. I can’t tell if they didn’t know how to end the game or if they planned on doing a sequel.
PC Port Report
While this is a mobile ported to PC game, it comes with a reasonable settings menu. Keyboard config, resolution options and even joystick support. The art isn’t as hi-resolution as I would have liked, but is passable in its current state. The PC port of this game is surprisingly solid. It comes with rebindable keys, joystick support, cinematic speed settings and resolution options. The resolution options were nicely varied and the game also featured resolution “auto-detect” which worked just fine. For the most part, the game stayed at a solid 60 FPS during gameplay though my CPU was taxed a little too hard if there was a lot of objects on-screen.
Waking Mars is a well done exploration adventure game. One of the most enjoyable exploration games to come around in a while. Tiger Style managed to make a game that was only about exploration fun and challenging at the same time and I have to give kudos. The characters were also interesting people to get to know. I also have to give them kudos for making a quality PC game from an iOS port. It’s refreshing to see iOS app devs take care in the porting of their games. All that said, Waking Mars is an enjoyable game through the depths of a fictional Mars. While the game has some problems, the core of the game is a very solid experience. If you have any interest in exploration or adventure games, you should give Waking Mars a try.
Thanks for reading!