- Price: $29.99
- Developer: Haemimont Games, Abstraction Games
- Publisher: Paradox Interactive
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Do you like playing city builders? Do you like the idea of going to space? Do you dream of colonizing a new world? Do you feel little remorse as your colonists die of lack of oxygen? If you this sounds like fun to you will love Surviving Mars.
This 2018 game hit the Epic Game store for free as part of their campaign to get you off Steam, and it is a keeper. The game allows you to select a mission sponsor, which changes the game’s parameters. You can then select your landing site with varying levels of materials and natural hazards. Once you land your first ship, you are tasked with setting up the colony in preparation for colonist arrival. In this early stage, you set up the infrastructure to provide power, oxygen, and water. Also, you explore the level with explorer drones. This initial setup was done without colonists. Once this is done, you can send for colonists to come to help you expand the colony. The colonists enable the production of metal and other resources. This gameplay cycle keeps the population increasing and rockets flowing.
All your progress undermined by the harshness of the Martian environment. The temperature can drop, and if you run out of energy, you colonists will freeze. Meteoroids will fall, and they may damage your colony. The deadliest of all environmental hazards are dust storms. These storms stop your water and oxygen generation, so you must have reserves that can last through them. In addition, the storms cause leaks in power lines and pipes, which rapidly deplete your supplies.
In my first play-through, I almost lost my entire colony to a multi-day storm. Even wholly prepared for them, I could expect to lose several colonists to this hazard. My biggest issue with this game is its brutality. I never felt prepared for anything; I was at the mercy of the RNG gods. Adding to this struggle was the mental health of my colonists and their tendency towards ennui.
In a positive light, the graphics of the game are stylish and engaging. The gameplay as a whole is engaging. I found myself losing time without much anguish. The desire to play return to this game is still high as I write this article, and I may have to come back it to see if I can beat this game. I would highly recommend this game if you were looking for a challenging city building with sci-fi panache. If you are on the fence, check out my streams of this game at twitch.tv/theafktavern. I stream twice weekly on Thursdays and Fridays 5 to 9 pm, so check out the channel.