The first word I’d use to describe Deliver Us Mars is ambitious. Just within the first hour, you see just how much the team wanted to one-up what they accomplished in 2018’s Deliver Us the Moon. It’s a much bigger game this time, and my first impressions are that Deliver Us Mars might be an enthralling one as well.
I’ve tallied two hours into the game so far, taking on the game’s prologue and first three chapters. While I feel like the game is only truly beginning at that two-hour mark, the early chapters show plenty of potential in its gameplay and puzzle design.
Yet, I can also feel some of the pressure of the game’s lofty ambition starting to weigh on it. Deliver Us Mars is certainly an impressive feat of design, but it is unfortunately not an airtight experience — at least, initially.
Where man has definitely gone before
Deliver Us Mars’ initial story beat sets up the plot well enough, yet I’ve only just begun to really get into the main story. There’s a lot of set-ups in the first two hours, getting the characters’ backstory out of the way while the journey begins.
There’s plenty of interesting themes going on in the first few chapters, including the public’s growing disinterest and resentment towards space travel and an environmental crisis. That’s all fairly interesting, however, I can’t say I’m fully invested in the character conflicts yet. They all seem pretty basic so far; nothing you haven’t seen before. But who knows? They might grow on me by the end.
Given that this is an indie project, I wasn’t expecting the graphics to be absolutely stunning. Deliver Us Mars is definitely a looker in the backgrounds and environments, but character models and animations are certainly rough. Since you spend a lot of time with the main crew in the beginning, that issue is even more noticeable.
All systems go
One thing that’s definitely appealing about Deliver Us Mars is its depiction of space travel. I’ve already been able to float around space stations and shuttles in zero gravity, and it’s a truly immersive experience. With a six-degrees-of-freedom movement system and puzzles to solve in Zero-G, you get a real sense of what it must be like to float in space.
From the moment you begin the game’s launch sequence (which lasts about eight whole minutes with several steps needed to complete) to taking your first step on Mars, it feels like you’re enriched in the cold atmosphere of the cosmos. KeokeN Interactive wanted to nail the science, and while I’m not qualified to speak on the accuracy, it is certainly noticeable for the casual player.
Unfortunately, not everything on this voyage has gone smoothly so far. The puzzles have been okay so far, and certainly a little brainteasing. However, one of them has already softlocked me out of progression, forcing me to reload from the thankfully generous autosave. I’ve heard reports of this happening to other players, so fair warning.
Ironically, the one thing the game hasn’t delivered — at least, not yet — is Mars. I ended my first session right after protagonist Kathy Johanson crashes onto the Red Planet, with only a few minutes to walk around and get my bearings. There’s already been enough gameplay tutorials for me to get an idea of how navigating this planet will feel, and I’m confident that the highlights of the game are exploring its namesake. We’ll just have to find out over the next few days.
My first impressions of Deliver Us Mars
As I said, Deliver Us Mars is showing a lot of promise and ambition in its first act. Yet it already seems to be straining a bit in its early game, with the story not landing 100% and a bit too long of an introduction.
The gameplay is certainly engrossing, and even without experiencing Mars all that much so far, I’m excited to delve further into the planet. It seems like the game won’t take very long to beat (I’ve heard six to eight hours as an estimate for playtime), but my first impressions are that Deliver Us Mars is an immersive and potentially thrilling adventure.
Deliver Us Mars is available now for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. What do you think about it so far? Let us know!