Deliver Us Mars

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Frontier Foundry
Developer: KeokeN Interactive
Release Date: Feb. 2, 2023

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PC Review - 'Deliver Us Mars'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on March 8, 2023 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Deliver Us Mars is an atmospheric sci-fi adventure taking you on a suspense-fuelled, high-stakes mission to recover the ARK colony ships stolen by the mysterious Outward.

Adventure-puzzle games aren't usually in my wheelhouse, but I love good sci-fi stories and the romanticized portrayal of space that usually comes with them. Deliver Us Mars does an excellent job of delivering a compelling story, tied to the events of the previous game Deliver Us the Moon, but in a way that stands well on its own. Despite all of the high-tech trappings, the plot is a very personal one, with a daughter following in the dubious footsteps of her astronaut father.

Deliver Us Mars takes place after the events of Deliver Us the Moon, and you play as Kathy Johannson. Kathy is the daughter of Isaac Johannson, a famed and brilliant inventor and astronaut whose love for his daughter drove him to attempt to stow her away on a massive Ark vessel. These Ark vessels are meant to establish a new foothold for humanity in space, as Earth is irreparably succumbing to pollution and changing weather patterns. The two get separated just as the Ark begins its launch sequence, forcing Isaac to leave behind his daughter and board the effectively stolen Ark to head out to parts unknown.

Years later, a mysterious message is received from the planet Mars that carries what is unmistakably Isaac's voice. A crew is sent up to investigate including Kathy, her sister Claire, and two other crew members. Claire is a seasoned astronaut at this point, but her relationship with her sister is strained, as Kathy has been eager to follow in her father's footsteps and become an astronaut while Claire's affection for her father is weighed heavily with the consideration of what he had done.

It is this dynamic that the plot explores the most, and it's the most compelling element that pushes the narrative forward. From the moment of launch, it feels like Kathy is just a few tantalizing steps behind her father, retracing his footsteps and learning more about what has happened and what he's been involved in through holographic recordings. Her youthful innocence and faith in her father stand in stark contrast with her crew members, who want to apprehend him for his crimes; although the two sides have empathy for each other, it is often a cause for friction among the team.

Much of the game is played in the third-person perspective, but some sequences — such as ones aboard a spaceship or in zero gravity — are played from a first-person perspective. As Kathy, you must navigate these environments and solve puzzles to proceed. There are a mix of such puzzles, with the most memorable being the ones involving the launch and docking procedures of the spaceship, which have you in a first-person view in the cockpit turning knobs and flipping switches on the large console. Other puzzles involve using Kathy's wrist laser to cut tabs to create access to areas or clear debris or hazards in the area ahead.

Another type of puzzle — and by far the game's favorite to use — involves blue beams to transmit power. These puzzles require you to send that beam of energy to receivers in the environment, often also including you to reposition things like splitters and dampeners to split the beam or weaken it, as each receiver has its own specific power level requirements. These puzzles can be a real head-scratcher at times, but solving them is rewarding. The issue is that there are times when the game runs out of puzzle ideas and just keeps throwing the same type at the player. I often found myself getting engaged in the plot, hungry to move forward … and then see yet another set of MFT receivers on the walls and my heart sinks.

The rest of the gameplay does a great job of staying fresh and varied. Once on the surface of Mars, you'll explore the seemingly abandoned bases left behind by explorers who pushed on within the Arks. It is in these locales that you will use your floating robot companion to solve hologram puzzles (by positioning your view at the correct location and distance relative to the hologram). Solve them, and you'll unlock a cut scene that gives you more details of what happened to Kathy's father and the other explorers. At other points, you'll drive a rover on the Martian surface or use Kathy's climbing picks to traverse a cliff face.

The climbing mechanics in Deliver Us Mars are especially fun, if slightly clunky; you press and hold either the mouse button or controller trigger to slam that hand's pick into the surface. To move, you release one pick, move in that direction, and slam that pick back in before releasing the other one. Some materials or obstacles in the wall make it impossible to get a pick in, so you often must maneuver around them. With a controller, it feels a bit more natural, but with keyboard controls, it feels just a bit mechanical. It still plays a lot better than requiring the player to mindlessly move a stick around, so these segments always feel like a welcomed challenge.

The plot centers around a small number of key characters, which is also due to the standpoint that no one else seems to exist. Even back on Earth, the launch facility that Kathy works from doesn't have another soul in it. With most of the crew looking to be in their 20s, and Kathy a mere teenager, it feels like an abandoned facility that happens to be used by a handful of people who are much younger than expected. After you reach space, the lack of other people matters less, but it never quite shakes the impression that to be in the space program, you must be under the age of 30.

Deliver Us Mars often puts a ton of detail into the characters and environments. There are lots of little touches, small details, and effective use of effects and lighting. It's less that the game is a powerhouse of a graphics showcase, but more that clearly a lot of time and effort went into making the game feel "lived in." This is especially important for an adventure game and is impressive, given how easily space-based games can end up feeling clinical.

Overall, Deliver Us Mars is surprisingly compelling, with a story of a daughter searching for her wayward father despite his crimes — while others on the crew are searching for him because of said crimes. Most of the gameplay does a great job of keeping things varied, but I wish that there were just a few more puzzle ideas to break up the times when it feels like the game ran out of ideas and popped in another MFT puzzle. Endure those, and Deliver Us Mars is a great game that balances the narrative with allowing the player to have agency. It is further proof that sci-fi stories don't need to involve aliens or explosions, and the humanity within the game's story is admirable.

Score: 8.4/10

Reviewed on: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32 GB RAM, NVidia RTX 4070 Ti

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