Deliver Us Mars seems to act as a partially cautionary tale on putting too much faith in private investment and the ultra-rich for the future of mankind. Outward seemingly set itself up the best way to reach and colonise Mars, but did so by stealing powerful ARKs to make their plan work.
That plan did not come together, despite a massive effort, and from viewing new holographic reconstructions of events that took place on Mars, it’s clear that the burgeoning martian society descended into megalomaniacal control that was only furthered by an inevitable failure to succeed in their goals. Right in the middle of all of this was Kathy Johanson’s father Isaac, and her desire find out what really happened gives her a somewhat ulterior motive to joining Mission Opera to retrieve those ARKs.
Going hands on with Deliver Us Mars once more, we were faced with a big mission deeper into the game to reach a crashed ship and see if it could still aid in the recovery mission. The segment opened with a bit of driving through a Martian canyon to reach the ship’s wreckage, and I immediately felt the need to start messing with the game’s vehicle handling, seeing how daft I could get with going full tilt over the bumps of the landscape. Long story short, yes, you can pretty easily roll the martian vehicle if you try, and you can absolutely get it a little bit stuck on a rocky outcropping if you’re too careless. You’ll have fun trying, though!
One thing that’s impressive within Deliver Us Mars is the scale of the game. That’s not so much on a technical level, but with the design, narrative and art direction. Our Gamescom hands on had Kathy getting across a huge canyon, here we’re faced with a massive spaceship wreck, and it all gets across the massive effort and sunken costs from Outward’s expedition to the planet.
This hands on time also let us see some more complex examples of the puzzles that Deliver Us Mars will feature. Puzzles in this game often lean upon directing power beams from a source to a terminal, opening doors, powering machinery, that sort of thing. I’m not really sure that we’ll actually be replacing good old fashioned electrical wiring with microwave power beams at any point in our future – from a transmitter turret, you can use redirecting splitters to divert the beam in different directions, and then dampener fields so you don’t send too much power.
From opening a simple doorway to powering up some kind of sci-fi turbine, this provides some neat spatial puzzles, as you try to figure out first where all of the components are, then place them in the right spots to direct the flow of energy. The dependable robot buddy Ayla can help if you take direct control, being able to pick up and place these object, but still requiring Kathy to reach a spot and manually target them.
Thankfully, Kathy’s pretty nimble for someone in a space suit (even if it is very lightweight looking) and is able to clamber around the often broken up environments pretty well. It’s generally pretty clear what you can climb up and leap between, but she also has her climbing hooks. This remains generally intuitive and engaging, initially using both triggers to latch onto a climbable surface and then using alternate triggers to let go, reposition and stab the axe back into the surface. Out on the martian surface, climbable areas are marked by mottled, soft-looking rock. Within ship interiors and facilities, it’s golden-y padded insulation that lies within many of the walls and surfaces.
KeokeN has borrowed a little of the Tomb Raider/Uncharted spirit during these sections, and as you work through the crashed ship, some areas are far less stable than others, starting to shift and break up as you try to quickly climb around with the axes. It’s exactly the kind of cinematic action you’d expect, through you have to tackle it in a calm and methodical fashion.
Deliver Us Mars is shaping up to be a great follow up to Deliver Us The Moon that takes everything from that game and enhances it with new gameplay, more layers and deeper storytelling. It’s definitely one to watch as we head toward its release on 2nd February 2023.