Deliver Us Mars excels with suspense and atmosphere even if its climbing lacks
We've been on a mission to Mars in KeokeN Interactive's sci-fi adventure follow-up.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play as a Lara Croft type character on Mars? Well, if the answer to that question is a resounding yes then KeokeN Interactive's Deliver Us Mars will be right up your street. I know this because I have recently had the chance to go hands-on with the sci-adventure title as part of a preview session, where I got to experience two different parts of the game as part of two distinct unique chapters.
Deliver Us Mars continues the Deliver Us series that started with Deliver Us The Moon back in 2019. This game, however, trades lunar environments for the dusty red planet, and improves on its narrative offering by serving up suspenseful and atmospheric sequences that remind me of action-adventure titles like Uncharted and Tomb Raider. Granted, as this is an indie production, it doesn't quite have the same resources behind it, and that is felt in some parts of the gameplay, but you can clearly see that extra effort and emphasis has been placed on providing a gripping and emotionally complex plotline.
The set pieces and locations you'll visit are exciting and are fraught with mystery and also danger. You won't be facing alien threats or deadly flora, but you will have to overcome the environmental hazards of the decaying and rusting human infrastructure on Mars. Between having to leap and climb across and up all sorts of scaffolds and ledges, to clinging for life when entire sections of a level falls to pieces, there's a lot to get your heart racing, which is why it's a bit of a shame that the climbing mechanic feels so sluggish and steady that it limits the gravitas of each encounter.
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Don't get me wrong, the way the climbing is offered is brilliant in a realism sense. You have to constantly use your climbing picks to keep yourself attached to a wall, and then have to manually move one at a time to shuffle across and up walls. In theory it's a great system, and for a game that is less suspenseful at times than Deliver Us Mars, this would feel right at home, but when the world around you is falling to pieces and you're fighting with your controller or mouse to get protagonist Kathy to place her pick in exactly the right spot and yet she feels no rush in completing such an action, this does become a bit dejecting.
Thankfully, the puzzles that make up the game aren't designed in such a way that they will boggle your mind or cause you to pop a blood vessel trying to crack them. Generally, from what I saw, if you keep a clear mind and treat each puzzle methodically, you will crack it fairly quickly, with puzzles usually asking you to guide energy beams toward places to open doors or power objects. It may not seem too complex, but when you introduce splitters, resistors, and amplifiers, and then also verticality and obstructions, things can get complex quite quickly.
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It's fortunate that Kathy has a helping hand here then to overcome any problems she may encounter, as the drone mechanic is back from the first game, and allows you to better scout levels, move objects to places that Kathy cannot carry them too, even open doors by moving through vents. There are a lot of intricacies to explore and understand, and that's definitely a highlight.
Deliver Us Mars is shaping up to be quite an exciting sci-fi adventure. It seems to have better depth in places that matter when compared to its predecessor, even if I have had a few frustrations with the movement suite. Still, anyone who enjoys adventure titles with tons of climbing mechanics - similar to the Uncharted games and Tomb Raider series - should keep an eye out for this one, as it has plenty to bring to the table.