Spoiler alert! Waking Mars is one of those rare examples of a virtual simulation and exploration game that not only has great graphics but can hold the players interest through several levels. Even if you don’t get to kill any bad guys. Four Stars.
To be honest, it’s been a couple of months since I’ve seen an iPad game of the week that I could muster any enthusiasm for. In the meantime I’ve played at least a dozen really good new games, a few which Apple has so far failed to notice. Waking Mars deserves the pick. The animation and effects stimulate visually and the storyline is reasonably intelligent.
It wouldn’t hold a candle to Stanislaw Lem or Neal Stephenson, but computer games do have to sacrifice story complexity for playability. They were never meant to be read. Even so, Waking Mars’ storyline seems fairly rich. Scientists exploring Mars accidentally trigger a seismic event that causes their research statement to collapse, trapping them beneath the surface. To escape, they must find and nurture alien life forms who can help them navigate the underground passages and return to the surface.
Players have to collect seeds and artifacts to cultivate and nourish life forms. They can only break through barriers by increasing the overall biomass in the caverns. They receive help from an observant AI who scans and updates data.
I should warn you that I’ve played a couple of chapters and, so far as I can tell, you don’t get to kill anything. The closest you come to combat is tossing life giving materials to allow species to feed and multiply. The only way to complete a stage is to increase Mar’s biomass level, which means more Martians have to be alive than when you started the level.
Your own character is easily killed by acid pools and hungry plants and animals, however. So you do have to dodge, duck and fly through tight spaces with your jet pack. As your character progresses through the caverns, he has to collect and catalog artifacts with the assistance of your AI program. Players view mission objectives and data streams in embedded windows and can call up the game database of discoveries at any time.
As you discover more species you add to your database, and build up the information and clues you will need to solve future problems and finish future levels.
I found nothing new or innovative about the game. The formula is standard and the interface should feel familiar if you’ve played other exploration and simulation games. This probably keeps it from a five star rating, but shouldn’t keep you from paying the five dollar download price.The chapters I played were challenging enough to make me want to play more.
Jenny Manytoes rates Waking Mars
Jenny Manytoes would purr next to Waking Mars. The graphics engage her and the puzzles fun. She only holds off that perfect rating because she doesn’t believe there are no cats on Mars even though the game doesn’t have them.
The Jenny Manytoes Rating System