Ten years after the Fortuna mission on the Moon to try and stabilize Earth’s energy crisis, humanity is on the brink of extinction. Hope is reignited when a distress signal is received from Mars, a location suspected to house the technologically advanced ARK colony ships stolen by the mysterious Outward group. Kathy Johanson joins the Opera team with her sister to board the Zephyr in a last ditch effort to save the planet by retrieving the technology housed on the lost ARKs.
The narrative follows Kathy, daughter of Isaac Johanson who boarded the ARKs on the moon when Outward left the lunar surface into space. For her, the mission of discovering the lost tech is more than just an asset retrieval mission, it’s a chance to find her father. Deliver Us Mars is a very narratively driven game that focuses a lot of attention on familial bonds as well as the effects of climate change. By the time the Zephyr arrives on Mars, Outward has been gone for years, and that means this is really a game of discovering the past in hopes of a better future. I really enjoyed the commentary of what it would feel like to leave the Earth behind as Kathy unearths notes and history of the Outward colonists, both through their hopes and their struggles.
Opera team gets their fair share of story beats as well, with multiple members having their own qualms and opinions regarding Outward and the lost ARKs. The three other members of the team are wary of including Kathy on the mission, with the captain of the crew being Kathy’s sister, Claire. Alongside her command is the hot-headed Sarah Baker and voice of reason Ryan Delyanin, who balance out one another quite well. I found it to be especially engaging how Claire and Kathy’s viewpoints on the mission objective seem to be misaligned, with Claire not approving of Isaac’s departure in the first place but understanding Kathy’s desire to seek him out. It’s difficult to divulge much information regarding how the situation on Mars develops without revealing spoilers, but I can say that the interpersonal struggles of Opera team alongside the looming threat of extinction blends together for a provocative story of survival.
Much of the gameplay takes form within traversal and exploration, with a few small puzzles interspersed throughout. The most common puzzle prevalent in many levels is the STREAM point laser, which is a microwave beam that you must direct to power nodes. These are generally quite easy to complete, and they help break up the flow of simply walking around and taking in the scenery.
On the topic of exploration, Kathy wields two climbing axes that she can use to traverse the Martian environment. While I wish they could be used on any surface, it was still fun to crawl around craggy surfaces, having to use the triggers in tandem with the joysticks to move each arm individually. Sure it can feel a bit stiff at times, but overall I found it to be a fun mode of traversal, and its exclusion would make exploration quite dull. The last trick up Kathy’s sleeve is an iron-man-esque laser cutter that can be used to melt through locks and barriers like butter.
These aren’t the only tools available however, with Kathy also having a robot companion called Ayla, a personalized ASE drone that assists you in various tasks on your mission. Most of the time Ayla will simply float behind Kathy, but will come in handy during some puzzles. Kathy is able to remotely control Ayla, which is helpful for accessing areas you might not be able to reach otherwise or to decrypt holograms found around the Outward colony. I do wish there was a bit more that Ayla could do, seeing as she is prevalent in nearly every scene of the game, but I digress.
Exploring the rusty planet of Mars was a beautiful sight to take in, whether that be traversing the rocky plains on a rover, climbing icy pillars or strolling through abandoned colony prefab structures. The range of different vistas to delve into was appreciated and had me wanting to check every corner for sequestered log books or notes for more information regarding the history of the settlements and surrounding habitats. My favorite area I was able to visit was Outward’s water processing facility, a place intended to provide water for the entire colony, now frozen in an icy wasteland. This was a departure from the scenery one might typically associate with the red planet, so for me it was a welcomed inclusion and made for some of the most interesting exploration opportunities.
While this may not be your traditional action space adventure to an alien planet, I for one am glad it isn’t. This is a story about people, about their struggles and the weight of choosing your home planet versus a new one. While there are still elements of the action adventure present within Deliver Us Mars, at its core it is a narrative-rich exploration experience of the dangers and beauty of space. Watching Kathy grapple with the harsh realities of both the Earth and Mars civilizations was enthralling, and culminated into an intriguing story of how to save the human race.
Deliver Us Mars
Deliver Us Mars explores what it means to struggle against extinction, and the hope of fixing a dying planet. It’s a story of fear, and how it manifests into hope within some, and wrath within others. It’s a short but certainly sweet narrative adventure into the stars with some casual yet amusing puzzles to help break up the flow of gameplay.
- Breathtaking Martian landscape
- Thought-provoking narrative of space exploration
- Basic gameplay mechanics
- Puzzles that are perhaps a tad too easy