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Deliver Us Mars Review

Falling into Martian lore

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Humans first landed on the Moon over 50 years ago, and it will probably be at least another decade before we set foot on Mars. Fortunately, things move a lot quicker in the gaming industry. Deliver Us The Moon came out in 2019, and was a competent third-person adventure game about exploring a lunar base and uncovering the mystery of its previous occupants. Three and a bit years later we have Deliver Us Mars, a sequel that features more of the same but set mostly on the red planet. With a new protagonist, it offers a more personal story and some minor gameplay tweaks. Sadly, unrealized ambition and narrative problems mean this sequel drifts too far off course.

Deliver Us Mars

Deliver Us Mars actually begins on the Moon, shortly after the previous game. Kathy Johanson is a young girl who is staying on the lunar base with her father and sister. After a brief flashback, her father, Isaac, decides to steal a technologically advanced ARK spaceship and attempts to bring a confused Kathy on board. But Kathy is left behind in the chaos, while her father betrays the human race and successfully steals the ARK. Two other ARKs are also stolen by Isaac’s terrorist buddies, known as Outward, all never to be seen again.

Ten years have elapsed and both Kathy and her sister are back on Earth. Things on our home planet are grim, despite the extra power from the Moon thanks to the events of the first game. Kathy Johanson (played by Elise Chappell) is now a young astronaut who is an expert in the very same power transfer method, sent via beams, while her older sister is a senior astronaut. They receive an incomplete message from Mars which appears to be from Isaac. Their mission is simple: travel to Mars, retrieve the ARK(s), and bring back Isaac. The senior astronauts are hesitant to take Kathy due to her inexperience and history, but they are eventually convinced due to her aptitude. You play as Kathy and join three others on a mission that might save humanity.

Deliver Us Mars retains the majesty of space travel that was present in the first game. This starts when the four astronauts taxi up to the launch pad, ascend the scaffolding, and board the Zephyr III spaceship. Then the game lets players flip switches as the ship prepares for takeoff, to feel part of the crew and build anticipation. Although the launch is successful, the engines get damaged not far from Earth and Kathy must leave the ship to cut away debris. Here she will experience the full six degrees of freedom in zero-G and use jet thrusters to gad around the ship in first-person view. Then when they reach orbit around Mars, the team find one of the ARKs. This one appears disabled, with nary a soul aboard. They explore the interior and restore its functionality, before finally descending onto the Martian surface in search for the other ARKs and to find what happened to Kathy’s father.

Deliver Us Mars

Unlike the previous game, Deliver Us Mars offers a much more personal story involving Kathy and her family. Most of this is delivered via short flashbacks that typically involve Kathy and her father at their home on Earth. She might be swimming underwater (emulating zero-g) or hiding in the closet at home, and usually the game does a fairly good job of linking each flashback to the present situation. Although some flashbacks feel incomplete, they serve the purpose of peeling back layers of the Johanson family. Kathy may be going to Mars to save humanity, but the desire to find her father is just as strong.

The Martian story is told mostly via holographic recordings, and text/audio logs, not unlike a walking simulator. Unlike the flashbacks, these holographic recordings lack character detail. The holograms are slightly better than the previous game because major characters have visual identifiers, like glasses for Isaac. The biggest problem with these recordings is almost all of them feature constant bickering. Two groups argue over what to do as they deal with problems related to Mars and the ARKs. Most of the characters are insufferable. The game takes conflict, a vital ingredient in any story, to the nth level and continues to sing the same tune from start to finish.

The narrative also suffers because it is often illogical. Whereas the first game had many inexplicable things at the start, this time the bulk of nonsense comes nearer the end. Kathy is often rash and immature. She goes off on her own. She throws away mission-critical equipment. She stops responding to hails. It’s no wonder that the senior crew were hesitant to bring her. It does not help that Kathy’s irreplaceable skill involves pointing beams at targets, something a trained monkey could do. But not all the blame goes to Kathy. One character on Mars kills another for creating a deadly circumstance, and then does not rectify the situation. When a ship crashes on the Martian surface, somehow critical infrastructure survives intact. And there are even a few more bizarre things that happen right near the end, but talking about those would be a spoiler.

Deliver Us Mars

For the gameplay, the biggest change comes from Kathy’s dual axes that she uses to climb up and down specific walls. Many climbable walls are on the Martian surface, but some are inside other structures linked to the traitorous Outward team. Climbing is all about releasing one axe at a time and moving in a set direction before impaling it again. It functions well enough with the left and right mouse buttons, but many climbing spots take a long time to navigate. One mistake, like releasing one axe when another is not properly embedded, usually means death and starting the whole climb again. It is mostly tedious, with only a few nice vistas to soothe the pain.

The rest of the gameplay is largely unchanged from its predecessor. Occasionally Kathy needs to cut open things with her laser, which just means aiming at yellow objects. She’ll also get to drive the Martian rover a few times, but these are incredibly boring and restrictive trips from A to B, even worse than the previous game. The easy puzzles that involve pointing beams at nodes show up regularly but do not take long to solve. Typically players have to enable them in the right order, or place resistors to limit output, or connect splitters to divert power in multiple directions. But the puzzles regularly feel out of place, partially because Kathy solves them while the other astronauts twiddle their thumbs.

The personal hovering robot companions (ASEs) return, although they only play a small role. Kathy’s ASE is manually controlled occasionally to enter small vents and either grab things or open doors. It also unlocks those holographic recordings via a dull mini-game that sometimes needs to be solved thrice and other times just once. But the robot companion does not have much personality and is largely a useless hunk of metal that just floats around to block your view.

Deliver Us Mars

Although it tries much harder than its predecessor, the presentation aspects of Deliver Us Mars leave a sour taste. This is a case of an indie game trying to punch well above its weight. Unlike the last game, the main characters have full 3D models and animations. But many, aside from Kathy, look quite mediocre. Most animations are stiff with poor lip syncing and odd expressions—Kathy’s hair goes haywire every time the camera switches. There are several moments when a group of generic humans appear in the background for contextual purposes, but they look more like what you would get from a crowd in a 2000s racing game. Deliver Us The Moon kept its presentation elements simple and consequently looked better because of its consistency. At least the voice acting in Deliver Us Mars is quite good and the music fits the setting.

In addition to the presentation issues, the game is not in a great technical state. The performance is bad with many stutters and inexplicable frame drops. Some textures had streaming issues when reloading a checkpoint. Puzzles broke a few times, with objects vanishing completely. Kathy’s ASE robot somehow warped outside the level and got stuck, although eventually it teleports back, which it does often since it is so terrible at following. The game is also bad at transitions; Kathy almost drops into the world after cutscenes. Even changes between levels are abrupt, often teleporting the player to another location without explanation. To say it is all quite rough would be an understatement.

Deliver Us Mars

Under the surface of Deliver Us Mars is a personal story that has some merit. It’s a story that pits family against humanity, via the magnificence of space travel. But to get to it, you will have to endure silly bickering on holographic recordings. Boring gameplay, consisting of basic puzzles and dull climbing on the cliffs of Mars, cannot adequately fill the gaps between story beats. And much of the story struggles to make logical sense. There are even some obvious visual and technical blemishes, despite it clearly trying much harder than its predecessor. Although not a bad adventure game, Deliver Us Mars is definitely not the mission success it should have been.

Our ratings for Deliver Us Mars on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Presentation
65
Although the voices are good and music is suitable, the characters and their animations look rather mediocre. This is a shame because most ship interiors and even the Martian surface looks decent.
Gameplay
60
Consists mainly of plain interaction and simple puzzles. The new climbing mechanic works okay, technically, but it is not that enjoyable. Nothing much is done with the Martian rover or the ASE robot companion.
Single Player
60
So much of the story is bickering and the rest is Kathy acting rather immature, in addition to it having many logic issues. At least the flashbacks usually work okay.
Multiplayer
NR
N/A
Performance
(Show PC Specs)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
GPU: ASUS 6700 XT DUAL OC 12GB
RAM: 16GB DDR4
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
PC Specs

60
There are numerous bugs with the puzzles and poor technical performance due to stuttering and streaming issues. Even the robot companion can get stuck.
Overall
61
Deliver Us Mars comes crashing back down to Earth because of presentation failings, story missteps, and technical issues, despite a somewhat compelling personal tale involving the majesty of space travel and exploration of the red planet.
Comments
Deliver Us Mars
Deliver Us Mars box art Platform:
PC
Our Review of Deliver Us Mars
61%
Adequate
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Deliver Us Mars is ranked #1611 out of 1970 total reviewed games. It is ranked #81 out of 101 games reviewed in 2023.
1610. Garbage
PC
1611. Deliver Us Mars
Related Games
Deliver Us The Moon Deliver Us The Moon
Platform: PC
Released: October 2019
Developer: KeokeN Interactive
Screenshots

Deliver Us Mars
12 images added Feb 10, 2023 21:04
Videos
Deliver Us Mars - Story Trailer
Posted: Aug 25, 2022 11:37
Deliver Us Mars - Countdown to Launch...
Posted: Jan 11, 2023 20:39
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