Deliver Us Mars is an unexpected sequel. When its predecessor, Deliver Us the Moon, was released back in 2018, it was received lukewarmly, and was seen as a decent-if-unessential game. Yet here we are with another sci-fi adventure, this time set on the red planet 10 years after the events of the original. But is this new journey to space a must-play this time around?
Mediocrity on Mars
Mars’ terrain is foreboding — a hostile-looking planet with a fitting sense of scale as you traverse through it. You’re traveling across an unexplored planet, one that is new to you, and the way the game presents your travels makes the player feel like they’ve got a huge monolith to climb in their quest. It’s just that the monolith in this scenario happens to be a whole planet.
But while Mars is impressive-looking, its characters ruin proceedings. Weird animations see their mouths contort in uncomfortable ways, and the lack of detail in their faces reminded me of the classic discussion about how faces in Oblivion look like porridge. The voice acting is pretty bad, too, with its characters struggling to convey different emotions, leading to repetitive dialogue.
Climb on through
Gameplay for Deliver Us Mars boils down to platforming and puzzle-solving. There’s no combat to be found here, just like in Deliver Us The Moon, marking a refreshing change of pace from the bombastic action game we’re often treated to. Instead, it’s all about solving puzzles that are presented to you, some being object-based and some being traversal-based.
For the object-based puzzles you use a laser to cut away elements of scenery and fix things, or you use various already pre-existing elements to figure out exactly where you need to go next. The traversal-based puzzles require you to use equipment at your disposal such as pickaxes to climb and make your way to the next objective.
It’s incredibly fun to climb around using the pickaxes. You use alternate trigger buttons to maneuver your left and right hands, and you aim where you’re hitting the pickaxes with the sticks. It’s always satisfying to climb something in Deliver Us Mars, and the noise that the pickaxes make when colliding with surfaces is satisfyingly impactful.
Unfortunately, puzzling becomes less interesting after a couple of hours. After pulling out my laser and cutting away debris for the umpteenth time, I grew bored of the very loop that makes up the vast majority of the game.
Things pick up with its story, which is predictable but moving, as you assume the role of player-character Kathy as she explores the abandoned Mars colony while also searching for her missing dad. It doesn’t break away from expectations as it moves along, but it does enough to pull on the heartstrings.
Deliver Us Mars: The Final Verdict
Deliver Us Mars is engaging enough, and flinging yourself around Mars with a pickaxe is a great deal of fun. However, its puzzle-solving becomes dull far too quickly, while its serviceable story is hurt by jarringly animated and voiced characters. This isn’t a game I’ll go back to in a hurry, but as a six-hour distraction, there are worse ways to spend a day.