Deliver Us Mars PlayStation 5 Review

Deliver Us Mars is meant to be a good game, with puzzles, a stunning vision of the future, and a good narrative to unfold, but ultimately fails to deliver.

By Rayan, Posted 04 Feb 2023

Whenever there is a Sci-Fi movie or game, it always gets more attention than most other genres due to our curiosity about life beyond the sky and the stars. KeokeN Interactive and Wired Productions took us on a Sci-Fi expedition back in 2018 through Deliver Us The Moon, a thriller that takes place in a post-apocalyptic future when Earth's natural resources have been drained, and we venture to the Moon to find a solution to rescue the human race.

Having been praised for delivering a great sci-fi adventure, KeokeN Interactive and Frontier Developments have decided to take matters to Mars this time. As you've guessed already, humanity's only hope for survival is on Mars, and Deliver Us Mars takes it to the Red Planet with the game's usual twists and turns filled with puzzles and non-shooting action. The question is, does it deliver the same amount of excitement as its predecessor?

Deliver Us Mars, PS5, Review, Elise Chapel, Kathy Johanson, Female Protagonist, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Deliver Us Mars is technically a sequel to Deliver Us The Moon in every sense of the word, even though the game can be enjoyed on its own if you're unfamiliar with its backstory. So those who played Deliver Us The Moon will most likely enjoy the game more than others who are only starting it. I must confess that I haven't played the first game, and my experience with KeokeN Interactive's outer space expedition begins with this very particular game.

Due to the success of the previous title, KeokeN didn't hesitate to set a lofty goal and expand the project's scope; we all had expected it to be a different kind of beast altogether. Deliver Us Mars mostly maintains this positive direction while the same basic structure of the game remains, which is dressed up in a more sophisticated theatrical fashion.

You take the role of an astronaut Kathy Johanson in Deliver Us Mars, who sneaked on one of the ARKs on the Moon before Outward launched out toward space. It's been ten years since the Fortuna trip to the Moon to attempt to fix Earth's energy problems but failed, and now humanity is on the verge of extinction. Luckily a distress transmission from Mars gives them a reason to believe that the futuristic ARK colony ships are still alive and safe on the red planet and has vital information on reversing climate.

Deliver Us Mars, PS5, Review, Kathy Johanson, Narrative, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Finding the lost technology is more than just a job to her; it's an opportunity to track down her missing father, Isaac Johanson, a brilliant scientist who left Earth for a new life there. Thus, you go to Mars in 2069 as part of a small crew that includes Kathy's elder sister Claire Johanson. The crew's mission is to discover whether or not Isaac survived and whether or not he and his crew were successful in establishing a Martian colony.

A lot of effort was put into creating a compelling story for Deliver Us Mars, which centers on the connections of family and the consequences of global warming. Sadly, the narrative only succeeds in establishing its identity at the very end. A decade after the Fortuna expedition to the Moon failed to resolve the energy issue back on Earth, humanity is on the verge of destruction. Even if Kathy's objectives are primarily driven by her own self-interest, they are nevertheless sufficiently congruent with those of the overarching purpose that she is never as unclear as she otherwise would be.

It is unfortunate that the plot is delivered in a somewhat fragmented manner and the occasional requirement for fade-to-black switches. The segments that are supposed to be flashbacks really do drag on for a very long time and rapidly outstay their favor. The narrative undoubtedly is excellent in theory, and with a little more time in the oven, it might have been even better and quite striking.

Deliver Us Mars, PS5, Review, Kathy Johanson, Puzzles, Screenshots, NoobFeed

There are two main puzzle mechanics at work in Deliver Us Mars. Kathy must strategically direct laser beams of energy to activate doors and reveal new locations to solve certain puzzles and advance the narrative. The solutions to most environmental puzzles are usually not too complex; however, they sometimes have an unreality to them. The game's cutting elements are fun at first, but they soon grow tedious in zero gravity.

There are several enjoyable puzzles, but as a player, you're stuck in an unending ray problem, The Talos Principle. However, my main complaint is with the game's puzzles, which always seem to involve the same thing: moving some beams about and shooting them at items to unlock doors. The need to solve a riddle every time you want to access a door is fun at first but quickly becomes monotonous.

Kathy's awkward and unpolished motion had been a constant source of discomfort. While the holograms may have intriguing stories, the wall climbing will likely get tedious and frustrating by the game's conclusion. In addition to solving puzzles, Kathy must often find a way to bypass obstacles, wall-crawl, leap, or climb to reach previously unreachable locations. While climbing and platforming are essential gameplay elements, developers clearly needed to add more realism to them.

Deliver Us Mars, PS5, Review, Kathy Johanson, Female Protagonist, Climbing, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Climbing sequences are typically separated from the narrative and may be arduous and time-consuming activities. They often fail to make any sense and add unnecessary complexity. A particularly bad example is the ice wall after a particular chapter. However, the narrative does include a few notable instances of characters successfully escaping hazardous situations in different occasions.

There is no shooting or killing in Deliver Us Mars, so apart from solving puzzles to unfold its narrative, there isn't much else to do in the game. A lot more could've been added throughout the game along its route other than traveling from one point to another without accomplishing much. The game's charm lay in its simple mechanics and the unsettling atmosphere of an otherwise deserted world with only holograms to fill in the blanks about what transpired.

Despite the game's massive scale, there are very few collectibles, such as chatlogs, books, emails, etc., worth investigating. Still, you'll likely spend a lot of time simply aimlessly exploring different areas. Given the game's really engaging environment, tons of content could've been added to avoid such monotony.

Deliver Us Mars, PS5, Review, Elise Chapel, Kathy Johanson, Female Protagonist, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Deliver Us Mars is played from a third-person viewpoint and fully animated actors, although there are a few issues with this setup. The facial motions give the impression that the characters are lifeless. Unfortunately, the appearance and movement of the characters further diminish the effect. The textures appear a little off, especially on the more cartoonish models. During cutscenes, the motions and camera placement are a little off-putting, but surely this can be overlooked given the game's low price.

Even with ray tracing turned on, the lighting still isn't very impressive. The lack of believable shadows and lighting appears as if no ray tracing was used, especially noticeable in the residence portion. Apart from all, the most disappointing part of the game is its save points. There are no manual or auto-save features, and the distance between the two save checkpoints isn't very close. Starting a new game or selecting a different chapter will delete your current save file. So, if the game crashes, there's way too much ahead of you to go through.

Even though the animations are jerky and often cut into the environment, Deliver Us Mars deserves appreciation for its atmosphere. You get the impression that you are an astronaut exploring uncharted territory, thanks to the settings and structures in the game. There are some fantastic opening sequences for the launches. If you disregard the fact that the game's graphics aren't very polished, the various launch controls and protocols for traveling through zero-gravity space seem to be realistic.

Deliver Us Mars, PS5, Review, Elise Chapel, Kathy Johanson, Female Protagonist, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Elise Chapel, who provided the motion capture and voice for Kathy, contributed to the game's ability to sustain a consistent level of suspense throughout its whole, as well as the need to uncover more of the story. Sadly, the rest of the character models, especially the NPCs seemed mostly lifeless mannequins with sightless eyes. I was curious why the hair is drawn poorly for all the characters, including Kathy, which is strange.

Overall, Deliver Us Mars is meant to be a good game, with a good quantity of puzzles, a stunning vision of the future, and a good narrative to unfold were all there, despite the grim subject matter. There was so much potential in the game, but KeokeN Interactive has failed to capitalize on it. The story itself is good enough to uphold the game only if they had stuck to the basics of a regular platforming or open-world formula. Clearly, there are hints of haste in the release, especially when there was a missed deadline for release. You may like Deliver Us Mars if you enjoyed Deliver Us the Moon, but the nostalgia truly does go on too long and become tedious.

Azfar Rayan (@AzfarRayan)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Frontier Developments plc
Developer(s): KeokeN Interactive
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Sci-Fi, Puzzle
Release Date: 2023-02-02

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