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About Surviving Mars

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Surviving Mars is an economic strategy game for PC, PS4 and XONE. The title is a science fiction city builder – it focuses on building and managing the first colony on Mars. The game was developed by Haemimont Games, a studio that created, among other games, Tropico 5. It was published by Paradox Interactive, a company that also released another city builder – Cities: Skylines.

During the production, the developers were inspired by cult science fiction works of authors like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke and by the retrofuturism trend.

Mechanics

In Surviving Mars for PC, PS4 and XONE the player is tasked with building a prospering colony on Mars. His tasks include taking care of matters that have direct impact on the success of the project: providing access to oxygen, to water, to food and to other resources required for the colonists to live and be happy; maintaining constant access to electricity; mining the required resources and improving knowledge, for example by organizing exploration trips into new areas of the planet and by conducting science experiments (that can lead to unpredictable situations).

The colonization begins with selecting a space agency that will provide financial support and resources for the operation. Then the player selects the best location for his future colony and he sends a non-human mission consisting of remote controlled vehicles and robots there. These mechanical astronauts are tasked with building the basic infrastructure to which the first humans can be sent. It is worth mentioning that the sponsor selected at the beginning has strong impact on later phases of the game: a profit-driven organization might want the colony to focus on mining valuable resources and on sending them to Earth while a more idealistic company might be easily angered by deaths of colonists.

Making the colony ready to accept first humans isn’t simple – it requires preparing various life support systems. What’s important, even after organizing energy and water sources, these systems can be damaged or deactivated by environmental factors. For example: in order to provide water for the colony, the machines must drill to the underground resources and then prepare a mechanism that will pump the water to tanks on the surface. These tanks are susceptible to low temperature. Cold can also increase the need for electricity of the colony – this might be very troublesome if there is a sandstorm at the same time and it covers the solar cells with dust.

A well designed and functional colony might become a home for dozens or even hundreds of citizens, each of whom has individual traits (like high ambition or being a workaholic) and four parameters: physical state, mental health, morale and general comfort. Physical state of the colonist depends on his environment: lack of oxygen or water has negative impact on his health. Frequent stress or lack of safety has negative impact on the mental state of a citizen – it can lead to a mental breakdown. Morale determines the eagerness of a colonist to work for the greater good – the lower it is, the greater the chance that he will perform a crime.

The last parameter, comfort level, represents the happiness of a colonist. The inhabitants that are happy are eager to have children. The first birth on Mars is not only an important event in colony’s history, but a possibility to make the colony independent from Earth transports as well. It is important since some events might make it impossible to call for new colonists – for example, a bankruptcy of the sponsor or a world war that will decimate Earth.

Surviving Mars for PC, PS4 and XONE is a sandbox, but it also offers mysteries – optional scenarios and events that add classic science fiction tropes to the rather realistic game world. For example, such task might start with a sudden appearance of UFOs near the colony. Examining the mysteries is risky: it can either provide profits or lead to a disaster.

Technical aspects

The graphics of the game are inspired by retrofuturism. The machines used by the player during the colonization combine traits of modern technology with unique style that was present in the expectations of futurologists during the sixties. For example, the colonists are living in giant glass domes that look like a cut out piece of Earth ecosystem – they have green glass, trees, houses and streets.

Surviving Mars for PC, PS4 and XONE supports mods. With them the player can add new buildings and mysteries to the game.

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