Waking Mars is an innovative and engaging adventure game that sees you re-awakening life on a sleeping planet. While exploring caves beneath the surface of Mars, you stumble upon a complex and symbiotic range of plant life. You have to explore and connect a huge and peculiar ecosystem in a magnificent warren of caverns. When you then get trapped deep under ground, you have to rely on the flora and fauna to survive! If you like playing fresh and rewarding games on your Android device, read on for the full review.
The year is 2097 and you are on Mars, following the work of a previous explorer who went missing. What you discover is a rich and diverse ecosystem of plantlife quite unlike much of what we see on Earth. The plants are symbiotic, that is, they rely on each other to grow and spread. However, you soon discover that you can give them a helping hand, gradually linking cave after cave of alien horticulture!
Plant seeds and grow new lifeforms
Things then go absurdly wrong as you are suddenly trapped within the caves with seemingly little chance or opportunity of contacting the surface. However, you soon realise that the plants you are cultivating might just save you. This launches an extraordinary adventure of discovery that signifies a highly original concept and wonderfully engaging gameplay.
Say goodbye to the surface!
The game controls are both intuitive and responsive. You simply touch and press the direction you want to move in. When this means you are traversing across the ground you simply walk. When it requires moving upwards, your jet pack kicks in and you ascend and descend accordingly. On the bottom left of the screen there are navigational and objective tabs which pause the game and on the bottom right is your inventory.
The inventory contains pods and items you have collected while exploring. When selected, you can fire a pod towards other plant matter which spawns more plants and pods. By doing this you essentially propagate the spread of the plantlife and generate new avenues of collecting pods and finding new life. This underpins much of gameplay as life and the results of reigniting life becomes more complex in nature.
So gameplay is a combination of exploring the caverns and discovering new life by exchanging pods. Successfully doing so often creates new passages to explore. Sometimes you are left in a cavern and need to escape it. There is often a puzzle element to gameplay where you have to work out how best to proceed. While it is still relatively linear, it requires the use of logic to progress.
Crawl to discover new spaces
The game has an undercurrent of mystery which examines what happened to the previous explorer and the hidden life-potential of Mars. The narrative expands as you discuss things in cut scenes with other characters in the game. This all creates an entertaining and intriguing game which is hard to put down. It’s perhaps not addictive in an ‘Angry Birds’ way but it certainly keeps you riveted. Additionally, it is easily a game where you can waste a great deal of time.
What is also nice to see is a game that sees you creating alien life, instead of ruthlessly destroying it. While ever since space invaders games have required you to blast everything in sight, this encourages you to explore and grow alien life in an innovative way.
Graphics and Sounds
The visuals of the game are rich and very detailed. Gameplay is essentially in 2D but the environments and animations are immaculately designed. It struck me as a little similar to the graphics you can see in Grabatron — such is both the two dimensional and cave-exploring gameplay. Each of the plants you find offer entirely different animations and movements and these are rendered in a smooth and sympathetic way.
Grow and spread life
There are plenty of realistic sound effects in the game which help bring it to life (quite literally). This is combined with a beautiful score of music which, according to the Google Play Store description is both original and critically acclaimed. Together these add an element of outstanding quality to the game, which perfectly compliments the graphics and gameplay.
I don’t think I have played any game quite like Waking Mars and it’s incredibly refreshing to discover something so original. The Google Play Store is flooded with tycoon style games, retro-games and more and more ‘running’ games which take after the popularity of Temple Run. Waking Mars though is very, very different to pretty much anything else I have encountered before. Sure, there’s a resemblance to Grabatron as previously mentioned, but how many games can be described as an exploratory, extra-terrestrial horticulture mystery?!
Explore and cultivate
The game is really made up of various components which make it rather difficult to categorise. There are elements of puzzle game here and it’s undoubtedly an adventure game. With the need to explore and combine plants together, you might further be reminded of the various alchemy games available. That said, it still feels very unique and gameplay is genuinely inventive.
Waking Mars is an enjoyable and engaging game which is stimulating to play and highly original in nature. For less than $2, you get a beautifully designed game with a lustrous soundtrack, addictive gameplay and an intriguing plot narrative that will keep you engaged all the way through. If you like games that are capable of really immersing you with fun and compulsive gameplay, you should definitely give Waking Mars a go. This will sound like a terrible pun, but it really is out of this world!