Some time ago we reviewed Deliver Us the Moon, a wonderfully atmospheric jaunt to (and on) the moon where you get flung up there with the intention of saving the Earth from the brink of catastrophe by fixing an elaborate energy source. The scientists in charge of it all seemingly decided to abandon it, disappearing off to who-knows-where in the process. Wind forward a while to Deliver Us Mars, where we find out where that who-knows-where ended up being. I bet you can’t guess where… yep, we’re off to Mars.
We take control of Kathy, the daughter of one of the astronaut scientist guys who decided to do a runner in Deliver Us the Moon. After catching a signal from Mars which suggests that’s where they ended up, she heads off into space to attempt the double whammy of not only trying to save Earth, but also catch up with her father in the hope of finding a few answers and find out why he bottled it last time round and left an entire planet for dead.
The character of Kathy is really nicely put together; she’s got this constant internal battle going on between the science of her mission and her own personal struggles. It’s done really well; there’s none of those big movie moments where she suddenly outpours panic or has ridiculous pings of intuition that would take a whole team of experts weeks to work out. Instead she keeps herself ticking over by keeping the big issues under the surface, regularly convincing herself that things aren’t all bad and seemingly making herself feel more confident than she really feels. The voice work is great too, and while you won’t hear a massive amount of it, what there is really fits the character of Kathy nicely. Similarly other characters such as Kathy’s dad (spoiler alert, she finds him) are equally well created with the conversations feeling genuinely realistic for a strained family situation.
The game itself combines a range of different mechanics to keep things mixed up while you work through the storyline. You’ll be cutting things up with a laser, redirecting energy beams in increasingly-tricky puzzles, flying robots through tricky areas as well as a couple of different ways of moving Kathy herself around. They’re generally paced well and keep the game moving at an appropriate speed while keeping things varied. In terms of being able to play the game to enjoy it without puttling you from the storyline, this does a very decent job.
What does put a dent in the immersion though is the visuals and character animations, especially around faces and speech. Playing this on a PS5 after spending a lot of time on titles such as Forbidden West really show the difference in the teams creating these games. While the storyline and general ideas within Deliver Us Mars would easily fit into a larger scale production, this is where things fall over a bit. Conversations don’t quite look right in terms of facial animation, and the general look and feel of Mars and the areas you’ll explore has a bit of a last-gen feel to them. Thats fair enough when it’s available on the PS4 as well, but I imagine even PS4 players might look at this and wonder what might have been with some more development toys to play with.
But is that enough to keep you away from Deliver Us Mars? Absolutely not. This is a wonderful example of how games can rise up above average visual production quality and still, through some well thought out mechanics and excellent stroy writing, be a thoroughly worthwhile single player experience. If you want atmosphere, if you want something that’ll linger with you after the credits roll, and especially if you enjoyed Deliver Us the Moon, this should be on your radar to pick up and buy pretty soon.
Reviewed on PS5