Surviving Mars | Review

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Surviving Mars is a survival game that sends the player to Mars with limited resources. Where the main objective of a city builder is to build a colony and become self-sufficient. While also solving a great disaster on Earth as resupplying becomes less and less abundant over time.

Tutorial System

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While I’m not going talk much about the Surviving Mars tutorial system I will say the quality was up there in covering the majority of things that player needed to grasp a basic understanding of. While it won’t handhold you through an entire game later on. They do break up many different phases that I found helpful.

Games like Surviving Mars where you not only have a city builder element but a survival one as well. I feel it was quite important for them to have this aspect of the game. For those who tend to struggle to pick up on learning a game like this, I highly recommend going through their five tutorial series first before getting started in a game.

Mission Setup

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I have found Surviving Mars provides some amazing options at the start for the player to choose from in how difficult they want their gameplay to be. There are a couple of different layers that make up the challenge the player will end up facing. From how much funding they have to buy supplies, individual quirks as game rules they will have to deal with, and the final mystery mission.

The first option is who dose the player wants to be their mission sponsor? They are just more than a name as they offer different amounts of funding, prices for buying rare metals that you can send back to earth. Along with the type of rocket capability that the company has.

I found it quite handy to have a sponsor that can at least afford me some emergency funds when supplies on Mars get lows for my first play thought. Once you become more accustomed to building and the costs of harder to quire parts you find yourself choosing the more difficult sponsors to work with for an added challenge.

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They also give you quite a lot of options to pick as quirks for you to deal with or as they are called game rules. You can make rockets faster that help for sending supplies and people to Mars or out on local missions. You can make scanning the mars surface extremely fast. Some settings can make the game quite hard that randomize tech fields in where they place for you to research. There are well over twenty options to choose from that can have a minor or major impact on your gameplay.

Finally, you can pick from one of nine if you choose mystery missions that will unfold while you are playing Mars Survival. These can be easy going and even if you have a bad start you should be able to complete it. Others I think would challenge people who have played the game a couple of times.

I happened to go for the random mystery option and ended up getting Wildfire for my first playthrough. I not only had to deal with Earth having major pandemic and being unable to help with supplies when I needed it. Those very supplies or people ended up infecting my colony wiping me out before I could create enough of the cure. Thankfully for another playthrough, I got a much easier mystery to deal with.

Outside of these, there are a couple of other things. For one the game has a challenge mode that gives the player a set of objectives. Another is the creative mode for those that want to create and not deal with the survival part of the game. These add even more ways to play for anyone looking to extend their gameplay.

I was quite impressed with all the different things you can select that affect gameplay. You can crank this game up to an eleven if you feel you are a survival city buildering veratrin. On the other hand, if you still want some challenge on a more reasonable level you can go that route as well.

Payload And Landing Site

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The next phase of the game after working out what challenges you want to face is working on some of the final details before you land on the surface of Mars. I find picking your rocket payload has a big impact on your early days. While picking which landing site adds replayability with different maps and how challenging you want the surface of Marts to be.

The game does start you off with zero cargo capacity left that you can change on your rocket payload depending on who your sponsor was. You could be bringing a lot of goodies down to Mars or just barely enough to survive a couple of days. I don’t mess with the predefined load too much. I like to have enough of the prefab building materials and harder to get make parts like machine parts and polymers.

While other things are depending on the settings I had selected that I might skimp on like orbital probes. I found everything else to be quite necessary. I have even been known to start spending supplies right after I arrive to start getting a head start on future needs like more prefab buildings or the stuff I can’t manufacture for a while like electronics or others I’ve mentioned above.

The fun part of this whole process for me is picking that landing site. The game gives the player several details of information about an area when you select it. You can end up in a very barren wasteland that is also cold with other natural challenges like dust storms.

For my first couple of times, I wanted a place that was not going to get rocked by meteors. Though meteors can help spawn metal and other interesting things on impact so they are a double edge sword. I naturally also go for the sites that have a concentration of resources so I can enjoy the city-builder element of the game as well.


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While it might have seemed like a lot to get to Mars it is well worth it. Just imagen all the work it would take to get there in the real world and hey you did not even have to wait two years of real-time to do it either! This is really where the game picks up as all the choices you have made up to this point now start to play out as you attempt to survive on Mars for as long as you can.

There are quite a lot of first things you want to do to get yourself up to having a dome and having settlers arrive to live on Mars. The great thing I like is how low pressure the start feels. You do not yet have people that you will need to keep alive. You can spend some time learning the controls of the game and scan out a couple of areas on your site.

At some point, you decided to put down a storage area and set up a drone hub for your army of worker drones to start collecting from the local area. I find it rather fitting robots are the ones doing the hard labor for the most part. While the humans will work from inside builds or stay within the safety of the mighty domes you build later on to carry out their carrier paths in many needed fields from growing food to researching new technology.

The game is very kind enough to have a starter dome that you can construct that already has many of the buildings you will be required to build anyways for colonists to survive in a nice and neat area. I almost like using them until I can construct bigger domes. It keeps my mind at ease with having enough water and other resources to keep the done alive. In case I don’t already have enough buildings to meet those demands of more people.

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I have found having organization and keeping track of what is going on to be important later on in the game. For instance, you have water and oxygen pipelines. Sometimes they can get damaged or you end up running one to a dome and it’s not enough to keep anyone in there alive. Along with trying to connect domes so resistance has more space to work or relax. As you can see my first playthrough was quite the mess in how I ended up setting things up! I wish I could say I did much better the couple of other times I played.

After a while the supplies you came with start to dwindle and that is where you need to make a budget call. You might be quite rich or struggling with not a lot of money left over. While you can farm and sell Rare metals back to earth. Those payloads don’t usually cover a lot either so you tend to take out research that pays the bills when you need it.

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There are a couple of different launching options for getting goods to you on Mars. Which even in your early days you tend to start needing in no time flat. You can have a full rocket or a much cheaper supplies pod with a very limited amount of cargo space. You do only have a certain number of rockets unless you want to buy more so having gas production up and running to launch them back home can become quite key later on.

The game is kind enough to give you a couple of free cargo pods or even the opportunity to get some free ones from random events while you play. For me, they were always the “I’m too broke to spend a full cargo ship and I need machine parts to repair the broken building to save my colony from certain death.

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For those who like to min/max games they play. I feel those players will love how detailed the selection of passengers list is when you request some from Earth. Not only do they give you details about their specialization if they have any which is quite important depending on what buildings you have that need worker. You can find out the traits that could make or break them while they live on marts, an idea of their age, and many other factors.

All these things are just dealing with the first couple of days of in-game. The game gets quite detailed from here. You have lots of choices to make, things to build, and opportunities to take advantage of. After all, you are trying to survive in a very harsh environment. Staying ideal for too long and not taking risks won’t get you very far!

Research And Scanning

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For those who enjoy a deep and rich tech tree Surviving Mars has you covered. I often found I was just building domes and acquiring more colonists to expand out my research division. They have quite a lot of options and a unique way to discover new tech as well.

The game does start you off with a couple of slots of research unlocked for you to do. You need to go out and discover new technology to research. One thing you are contently doing throughout the game starts queuing up a fresh scan of another sector of the map.

While you do want to scan the starting area you set up base at to see what is around it. As you would hate to be building over the top of something rare or find out you could have a research bonus if you built a dome just a couple blocks closer. You want to know where all the deposits of metal, water, and other things are as well.

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During scanning, you can also uncover sites of interest for research such as anomalies. I like how the game not only gives you a chance at acquiring bonus research this is also how you unlock more parts of the tech tree. You then have to get an RC Explorer out to that spot to scan it which ben tricky with different elevations having mountains or other ways blocking off a direct path to reach them.

It can be tempting at first to have the mindset you will focus down a single tech tree. With the way, technology is discovered and the quality of life changes that are spread out all over the place. You might find yourself going for a more balanced approach in this game instead of trying to rush end content which in itself will take some time.


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At the heart of any city builder is the wide range of options you have in creating your empire. After you have done the research you get to build them. In total, the game breaks building and other things you can do down into eleven different categories. So yes, there is a lot of things to build and I have not unlocked everything!

At the core of it, you have the main infrastructure. The game itself starts you off with very needed basics so you can get up and running. Some of these include a drone hub that controls your army of drones that go out and build, gather, and move supplies around in fast networks. Later on, you can research things like shuttle hubs for transporting resources and colonists around if you choose to expand beyond your starting area.

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Power is quite a critical thing for survival. Many of the options the game gives you have pros and cons to using them. While having a vast array of solar panels sounds great they can get dirty, don’t work during dust storms, and only work during the day. Meanwhile, something like a wind turbine sounds great if you are in a windy area they as well well won’t be enough to ensure 100% uptime of power. Thankfully they do have quite a few options and ways to store it as well. You would hate to suffer a massive power outage and lose everyone.

The game also gives you the ability to terraform the local landscape. This can be quite key and the cheaper way to go out unlocking areas that are on cliffs or other hard to reach areas. It was also nice to see the waste rock from your production buildings being the key material in building ramps to get into new sections of the map.

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Domes also play a huge part in the amount of building you end up doing in Surviving Mars. So much so they are broken down into five separate categories creating the bulk of things you can build. It includes everything from different kinds and sizes of domes to entertainment like casinos, spacebars, and dinners.

No matter how big or small you end up developing an area into. There is one key thing that can play a major factor. Everything breaks down over time and has a maintenance cost. The repair cost tends to be the more valuable resource the game has as well like polymers, machine parts, and electronics. This can make expanding to fast in this game quite costly if you are always having to order these from the earth. Sooner or later the money runs out and your ability to produce these things might not be enough to keep everything running.

There are a bunch of other building types and things I’ve not covered here. This is something you need to experience for yourself. This game has a lot to offer the player who enjoys building. Even more so with survival needs needing to be met in time or you lose colonists which make for a bad day on Mars.

Final Thoughts

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There are a bunch of other things in Surviving Mars to do. These, however, are the major points that I enjoyed while playing it a couple of times. This game does have some great replayability and it goes on sale from time to time as well.

So if you happened to be trapped inside for a while and need an escape to Mars. This might be one of the cheaper options out there to do so. The attention to detail and overall quality of this game is quite impressive.

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Screenshots were taken and content was written by @Enjar about the game Surviving Mars.

Disclosure: I received this game for free.