I’m a big Kickstarter fan but I’m one of those who considers something for months before backing it. I spotted the 8bit headfuck that is Mars Underground a little while ago and was immediately intrigued. But now that it has a free demo? I’m going to be throwing money at it.
The project isn’t exactly well known, they so far only have $285 pledged of their $3,142 goal.. But don’t let that put you off.
Mars Underground is all 8bit so expect a simple and colourful experience in terms of visuals, but the underlying message in this game is far more complex than the graphical quality would have you believe.
I like to think of this as Existential Crisis: The Game. To give you a simple breakdown, this is how the creators themselves describe the game on their Kickstarter page:
It’s Mars’s first day at a new school. Except every day is his first day at a new school. Every night the world ends.
Influenced by classic LucasArts adventure games, 16 bit SNES RPGs and movies like Groundhog Day and Donnie Darko, Mars Underground is an apocalyptic adventure game in which the player relives the same day over and over.
What’s the big deal? I hear you ask. Who wants to play the same day over and over and over again? You say. Well, lads, you’re in for one heck of a ride… It is layered like a fucking onion. The game plays through once, then again.. but slightly differently.. and then again but Mars begins to realise that everything is the same… every. single. day.
You pick up items and acquire topics, all of which change the way you interact with the world around you. The cycle of day and night continues indefinitely while you try and escape the loop… And still nobody else believes you. There are a whole bunch of puzzles in this demo alone, and I’m not sure I even explored all of them.
Controls are your regular arrow keys and enter button, you have an inventory and can pick up everything from Breakfast to your mum’s car keys and items are all used for completing different puzzles in pretty ingenious ways. The dialogue is excellent and an injection of welcome humour in this game. At one point a toilet tells you he’s tired of your crap.. Need more convincing?
Nah, I didn’t think so.
It’s really too early to do a full rundown of this game; the demo is good but it is still only that: a demo. While I played through a hell of a lot of cycles and was still intrigued I really cannot wait to see where the completed product takes this.
The final game is planned for release next year (2017) and is going to be on PC, Mac, and Linux… Sweet, right?
But it isn’t just me who’s excited about this game: it’s won an Octopix for best independent game in the Strasbourg Festival which is pretty great.