A relative unknown, Mars: War Logs burst onto the indie scene and enamored fans with its depth and charm. Spiders Studios has crafted a semi deep game with an actual story, which is very uncommon for the indie world. Mars begins as we meet out main character Roy who has been taken as a prisoner of war by the oppressive Abundance guild. We’re introduced to Roy as he comes to the aid of a new young prisoner Innocence Smith who is about to be welcomed to prison in the most demeaning of ways. Roy steps in and dispatches the gang of thugs preying upon the young man and gives us our introduction to the interesting and surprisingly complex combat system within the game. Combat takes place in real-time yet allows players to pause and make decisions within a power wheel as well. Depending on your play style you can choose to go full steam ahead with attacks and brute force or even take a defensive stance with counters and tactical rolls. Having seen what Roy can do and being as green as he is Innocence quickly teams up with our grizzly protagonist and our journey begins.
Mars is Third Person Indie Action-RPG title that grants players the depth and complexity that is only rivaled by the big budget titles that we have seen come and go through the years. A full inventory system, branching skill tree and morality system might seem like a tall and ambitious task for the small team who worked on Mars, but their execution and the quality of game they produced shows just how talented their staff truly is. Players are able to collect, recycle and combine items in order to improve both their armor and weaponry. Taking crude materials like steel pipes and broken light fixtures and turning them into precise killing tools is not only extremely gratifying but completely necessary if you are going to survive the red planet. Tactics and weaponry are not the only things at Roy’s disposal. Roy is also what they call on the red planet, a Technomancer. The Technomancers are the ‘Guardians of the Knowledge’ and harness the power of electricity to deal out devastating attacks. No matter what combat style you choose to play with you will be able to feel just how powerful Roy is and becomes throughout the course of the game.
The downside to Mars: War Logs comes in the fact that this is indeed an indie game. You can tell that the team was not able to craft their adventure in the grand and epic way that it was intended. The areas that are explored are pretty generic and repetitive and the voice acting for a lot of the characters in sub-par. he voice acting specifically sounds strange when compared to the of our main character Roy. Roy is voiced extremely well and his lines are very well written as well. The awkwardness comes in when you are talking to companions and NPCs. Not only is the voice acting a bit strange but the enemies are repetitive as well. If you are not fighting against a group of soldiers from Abundance then you are faced with strange mole- people (pictured above). Roy is given a few choices throughout the game which shape the adventure in a couple of different ways. While all of these choices lead to the same goal, they do offer a different viewpoint in the story which is rather interesting. Companions are picked up throughout and honestly serve little purpose in combat other than distracting some of the enemies long enough to allow you to dispatch everyone in your path. It is in the interaction with you companions where the team tried to build story. Some of the characters are interesting enough to keep you wanting to push for information while others come off kind of bland. Romances are available but are little more than a few conversations followed by a scene of Roy and his chosen lady kissing. None of these things were enough to turn this game into a bad experience however. Throughout the game I just kept wondering to myself what this talented studio could do with a larger budget.
Are there games out there that are more realized and fleshed out than this one? Absolutely there are, but those titles will have you coming out-of-pocket with big-budget price points. This title is something altogether special and offers you a glimpse into what a small yet talented team can truly accomplish. For $19.99 you can have a few playthroughs of an adventure that takes you through the red planet like you have never seen it before. A true must-have for fans of indie games. While this title might not be perfect, there is enough challenge and excitement to more than earn its place in your collection.