There’s a big old space game due to release on Xbox later in 2023, and we’d suspect that Starfield will have the genre sewn up. But there are other great space games already available in stores. Deliver Us Mars is one, putting you into a spaceship and firing you across planets to fulfil your star-wandering needs.

It’s a game that has been brought to us by the same team behind the very good Deliver Us The Moon, this one running as a sort of sequel, set in the same universe and same timeline. But as the title suggests, this time around things focus on a different protagonist and a different place in space… Mars. Put your helmet on and let us go for a space walk. 

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There is a whole market of games that almost run as AA experiences, holding the midpoint between a full-price blockbuster and a smaller indie game. Most of these are delivered by fairly small teams of developers; teams with big ambitions in their game design. 

I loved Deliver Us The Moon and have been looking forward to venturing back into that universe, hoping to see how the team at KeokeN Interactive have moved the experience on. They have developed the franchise further with some different gameplay mechanics and a more complex story. Some of that works well, but, for me, other mechanics don’t always feel up to scratch. 

The story is excellent and atmospheric. It’s set ten years after the events of Deliver Us The Moon and focuses on a family of astronauts and scientists fighting to save the Earth. You see, the Earth is dying, drying up due to climate change, all because of our misbehaviour. The residents of Earth are also angry at the space agency for using precious resources to travel into space. Arks have been built to travel to other planets and Mars is one of them. 

You play the role of Kathy, the youngest daughter of this family. We play her as an adult on the trip to Mars and also in a flashback as a child. The writing is excellent and there are some brilliant ethics raised; such heart-wrenching scenes that deliver a hard emotional punch. The whole mystery of what happened to the settlers on Mars is a brilliant detective story to try and solve. I won’t spoil anything but it tells a great tale, worked through clues and holograms that you can unlock revealing the events that happened on Mars. There are some wonderful, well developed characters created here, which adds to the great storytelling. 

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Mechanics wise and Deliver Us Mars plays the third-person exploration angle. You can interact with items and pick up certain ones, helped along by a little flying orb-like robot called AYLA. She can help you get into unusual spaces, by taking control of her and picking items up and moving them, or spying on conversations. You also have in your arsenal a cutting item for doing exactly that; clearing space debris or opening up pathways. 

There’s a great sequence in Deliver Us Mars as you launch the spaceship via some clever control mechanics. There are also some nifty puzzles using streams, connecting locks that are good head-scratchers to explore. Holograms need unlocking with another puzzle, and you’ll get to drive a Mars rover for a bit; obviously that is extremely enjoyable. 

There are some mechanics which don’t quite work so well, mostly a little bit of platforming that feels wrong in this game. There is also a climbing mechanic, embracing some ice picks. For me, Deliver Us Mars relies on this a bit too much. There are some little glitches here and there as well, but overall the good overshadows the bad. 

The visuals are mostly stunning and the level of ambition, brilliant. The space stuff is epic and romantic, the Mars levels and interiors pretty amazing. Occasionally the character animations can feel a bit dated, but that is all forgivable. 

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It is with the sound score in which Deliver Us Mars feels beautiful, deeply in tune with the space opera at play in the game. All the effects, from the satisfying bleeps of the robot to the groans of a dying spacecraft, are superb. But the biggest accolade of all goes to the lead voice-over actors who give a brilliantly nuanced and in-depth performance. It’s the heart of the game for me and they deliver it beautifully. 

There are times when Deliver Us Mars feels a bit rough around the edges, and the platforming and climbing mechanics don’t work as well as they should. But ultimately this is about the story it tells, dazzling with splendid characters and a wonderful sense of place and space. The exploration and puzzle elements of the game bring much to love too. When you consider the size of the budget and that of the development team, the ambition of Deliver Us Mars should be applauded. 

What’s next? I can’t wait to see what they can do with a bigger budget. Deliver us the galaxy, perhaps? 

Deliver Us Mars is on the Xbox Store

There's a big old space game due to release on Xbox later in 2023, and we'd suspect that Starfield will have the genre sewn up. But there are other great space games already available in stores. Deliver Us Mars is one, putting you into a spaceship and firing you across planets to fulfil your star-wandering needs. It's a game that has been brought to us by the same team behind the very good Deliver Us The Moon, this one running as a sort of sequel, set in the same universe and same timeline. But as the title suggests, this time…

Pros:

  • Brilliant story
  • Great characters
  • Puzzles
  • Sound is superb

Cons:

  • Platforming
  • Too much climbing

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Frontier
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 2 February 2023
  • Launch price from - £24.99
TXH Score

4/5

Pros:

  • Brilliant story
  • Great characters
  • Puzzles
  • Sound is superb

Cons:

  • Platforming
  • Too much climbing

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Frontier
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 2 February 2023
  • Launch price from - £24.99

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