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Trying To Build A Successful Colony In Surviving Mars

Survival of the Martians.

The drones that help build mankind’s first colony on Mars are truly adorable. They look like little bug robots, trundling around on the red surface with big eyes and going about whatever task you set for them. That cuteness disguises a game that could shape up to be tough as nails, making Surviving Mars stand out from the rest of the city builder genre.

There’s a lot of factors to take into account simply to make tiny habitable bubbles for a handful of humans to live in. You need air that must be condensed from the sparse Martian atmosphere, power provided by solar arrays and batteries to keep the power running during the nights, you’ll have to find ice reservoirs to mine for water, and building new structures requires you to dredge up the Martian surface to create a semblance of concrete.

All of this is laid out in a quite fascinating fashion on the planet’s surface with this very modular look that send tendrils out to each important resource, while keeping the few humans safely inside their little bubbles of air. It’s probably better that way for when disaster strikes, so you can quickly see that electrical cables have been destroyed or which modules need to be replaced after meteors hit. The solution will be less simple when a dust storm rolls through, stopping your air condensers filtering oxygen from the atmosphere.

Yeah, it turns out that building a colony on Mars is rather difficult, let alone making it self sufficient and a worthwhile endeavour. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this a purely altruistic venture though, as one of the best ways to show your colony’s worth while you’re still finding your feet is to mine precious metals and send them back to Earth on reusable rockets.

On the return trip, those rockets might bring you vital supplies or they might bring you new volunteers for the burgeoning colony. However, given you might have 50 volunteers to fill the 10 or so accommodation spaces you’ve just built, filtering them before they head for Mars is an important part of the process. Prioritising people that fill certain roles in your colony is a good way to progress your colony, such as making sure you have a geologist to look after the precious metal mining that’s funding your colony!

However, each person also comes with a bit of baggage, certain character traits that you might need to manage and cater to in order to keep them happy. That will often come in the form of adding certain buildings and services to your habitable domes. Geologists apparently like to have a drink after work, and so popping a bar in place will keep them relatively happy, while also enabling one of their worse traits. Other people might be gluttons, hypochondriacs, and so on. Given the strict limits on what you can achieve with your resources, you might be forced to prioritise some needs over others, potentially going so far as to group like-minded individuals together so they can be happily obese together.

There’s only limited space within each dome, which are divided up into six large triangles for you to build in. Each type of building then takes up a certain triangular space within that, so there’s not much fiddling around to be done to make everything fit together. You can, of course, build much larger domes, but these consume much more resources, which you simply won’t have early on in the game.

Surviving Mars is a game that definitely has me intrigued, with a slightly harder edge to it than most city builders out there. It’s a game where it feels like many of your decisions could have certain tradeoffs and repercussions down the line, and while the actual colony building has its own particular quirks to fit the theme, it seems like your colony’s success may hinge on how much you’re having to manage and pander to your colonists.

Oh, and no, while I did ask a second time, there’s no plans to have El Presidente or a similar banana republic dictator as a sponsor in the game, which is a crying shame considering Haemimont Games’ long history with the Tropico series.

One Comment
  1. gazzagb
    Master of speling mitakse
    Since: Feb 2009

    Nice preview, I’m looking forward to this. Youre right though, it wont be the same without El Presidente!

    Comment posted on 30/08/2017 at 17:38.

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