Space exploration is a hobby of many and one particular subject in this field that might become a reality in the future is the colonization of Mars. If you ask Elon Musk, he might tell you that this is one of the items that are on the top of his priority list. But he will also tell you that it’s a rather complex endeavour.
If you don’t want to wait for scientists and engineers to turn fiction into reality, you can now play the new title Surviving Mars, to feel the thrill and excitement of planning and building your own Mars colony in the form of a simulation/strategy video game.
Let’s colonize Mars!
Surviving Mars is developed by the Bulgarian studio Haemimont Games, who previously worked on titles such as Tropico 4 and 5 or Victor Vran. It is being pushed out by Swedish publisher Paradox Interactive, who you might be familiar with if you played games like Stellaris, Cities: Skylines or Europa Universalis IV.
In Surviving Mars you get to simulate managing a mars colonization project from a bird’s eye view. When starting a new game you get to define your mission and adjust some parameters, such as picking your sponsor, and choosing a good spot on the Mars surface to land your first shuttle.
Once your shuttle landed on Mars, your objective is to prepare a self-sustaining ecosystem with more or less automated supply chains for resources and material processing. At first you have only remote controlled vehicles and drones to construct buildings or mine resources. You will spend roughly ten in-game years with preparing everything before you finally build a habitat for humans and have people actually step foot on Mars and live in your colony. Once the first people have arrived in the domes and buildings you prepared for them, you won’t be able to invite more colonists for 10 in-game years, so you can proof that your colony is not a death trap, before you send more people there.
At first you are heavily dependent on interactions with Earth and importing missing resources via space shuttle but as you progress through the game, you try to decrease the amount of imported goods and make the colony work on its own. That’s important because at some point, you will run out of budget and won’t be able to finance additional shipping trips to the colony anymore. The shuttles themselves can be used several times to either transport goods or people as payload, but they take some time until they are refuelled and can start again.
It’s not all easy but definitely fun
In order to grow your colony you need to plan and manage your time and resources mindfully. If your colony cannot take care of itself, and you have no more budget to import goods, you’re doomed and so are the poor colonists. There are many dangers out there that you need to plan for and take into account. Your people rely on breathable air, water, food and they need medical attention just as much as some recreation possibilities, so they don’t go crazy in that domes over there.
If any machines fail or pipes get leaks, you need to have sufficient materials in storage to fix that. Drones in the area will do that on their own, you don’t need to micromanage that, but they need the resources to complete their task. If not, you’re either lucky enough to have some redundancy in your infrastructure or you watch your colonists die off one by one. So the difficulty here really is to prepare a good supply chain, research efficient technology and build a good infrastructure, so your colonists can life a long and happy life in their new home on your Mars colony. All that and to become self-sustaining before your budget is all spent. The game is called Surviving Mars for a reason.
Looks and overall ambience
I played the game on Xbox One and found that the graphics are above average for a strategy game and simulation. You can freely operate the camera, zoom in a lot and everything still looks quite detailed and nice. The drones and the human colonists have also been animated well, so that you can watch them up close without it looking weird. I have seen nothing to complain about and overall the visuals worked for me.
The ambience sound in the game is well done. Nothing too dominant and overall it accompanies the game well. There are also four radio stations that can play music and sometimes you hear an intermission by a radio host talking about the latest news or other interesting information. Overall the music from the radio stations really add to the game and have the potential to immerse you deeper into the gameplay without even realizing it.
How to get it?
Surviving Mars is available starting today, 15th of March, 2018, for $39.99. I posted direct links to Amazon for PS4 and Xbox One above but if you’re looking for copies that work on Windows, Linux, or Mac, you can visit their official page and web store as well.
Paradox is a publisher known to have a large focus on games that are highly replayable, intellectually challenging, accessible and creative, next to the more than clear options to “nerd-out” about it and talk about the games on boards.I think all that attributes are clearly achieved with Surviving Mars and I had a lot of fun trying to build my own Mars colony. On the other hand it’s definitely challenging and I had sweat droplets on my forehead, trying to keep everybody alive. It does involve some emotional stress.
We received a press copy from Paradox to gather information for this review and we also managed to record a gameplay video and put it on YouTube for you. You can check it out below. Many thanks for reading and feel invited to share your comments with us below.
YouTube: Our First Colony on Mars – Surviving Mars (Gameplay, No Commentary)
Photo credit: Haemimont Games / Paradox Interactive