Frontier Foundry held a special demo for their upcoming game Deliver Us Mars where we got to try out some of the game's aspects and mechanics. A lot of people have been curious as to what this sequel to Deliver Us The Moon will be like. How much of it will be taken from the first game, and how much of it will be its own thing? We got to try out a small demo of it, and keeping things spoiler-free, here's what we discovered.
First and foremost, those of you hoping for a game that plays like the original will be happy to know that a lot of the core gameplay elements you enjoyed from the first game are here. You will be exploring the planet Mars in a suit designed to withstand a lot of the elements you'll encounter on a rock with no atmosphere. The suit has its own mini-laser in the arm, a hovering robot to take care of the minor tasks, a pair of climbing axes to get around, and another mystery that you'll need to follow to find out what happened to the people who were here that have suddenly vanished. It is everything you could ever want from a sci-fi experience where something happened in space that you need to investigate.
While we don't get to read too much into her character, developer KeokeN has given the main character, Kathy Johanson, a distinct personality that makes her both determined and inquisitive. You're not just roaming around as a silent explorer thinking thoughts to yourself, you have a couple of other crew members who have joined you on the mission, each one with their own viewpoints that inform her, but ultimately, she makes the call of what she plans to do in each part of the mission. We get to hear some of her thoughts and feeling about what she's finding and having to deal with while exploring the planet, and that is a major boon compared to the original, where a lot of what you did was sit in silence and listen to the white noise of a space station.
One of the new mechanics to the game that solves a lot of the puzzles in this brand-new system of energy lasers. Several areas in the game have small ports that allow you to beam an energy stream wherever you see fit. These help open doors that require a certain amount of energy to power them. Too much or too little, and they don't work. Thankfully, you have small generators and focus beams that can transfer the energy across distances and allow you to open up doors and power other items so that you're able to access them. Sometimes this can be tedious, and almost feels like a lot of it was done to slow the game down, but it is definitely a challenge that comes up frequently and will force you to think in different ways to get around the station.
One of the most frustrating parts of the demo, however, was the climbing axes. This part, at least in our opinion, is where the team manages to get extra gameplay out of an area that could have been solved with a jetpack. Deliver Us Mars has several key points on the map where you come across this orange insulation that is used to protect all of the rockets and space stuff so that everyone inside of it lives. It also makes for a great material to chop an axe into. The game has you using the triggers on a controller to operate each one. So you have to sink one in, use the thumbstick to move the other arm to place the other axe with that arm's corresponding trigger, then release the other one to move it. It is the most tedious exercise in coordination, and I fell to my death multiple times because of it.
The demo of the game we got to play came with a few different sections that had us moving from one base to another, driving a massive rover car, the same as the original game. As you move around, there are a number of clues left behind as impressions of people have discussions that you'll experience, like the first title, giving you hints as to what happened without the full picture, which you'll then have to piece together. But the overall mystery of the game and what took place here is front and center at every turn as you have to ask yourself what went so terribly wrong on these series of bases on a distant planet that would cause everyone to vanish.
Overall, we had a lot of fun checking out Deliver Us Mars, and believe those who loved the first game will get a kick out of the story and what this one has to offer. The game will be released on February 2nd, 2023.