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Waking Mars review (iOS / Universal)

March 11, 2012

“To Patrick Moore and David Bowie
And all the other stars
There’s evidence here to show
That there’s life on Mars”

10 word description: Discover lost caverns beneath Mars. Master alien ecosystem. Game Center.

10 word review: Exploration / action; jetpack platforming and extraterrestrial gardening. It’s pretty cool.

You will like this if you enjoy: Atmospheric adventure / platform games with an emphasis on researching and cultivating alien plant life. Come on, what’s not to like there? It’s a bit like Another World, if only because it’s set on another world with exploring, a bit of platforming and gameplay that involves solving environmental puzzles. It’s also vaguely reminiscent of some of the old 8-bit games by Ultimate, also Nodes of Yesod. Fans of Aquaria will also find lots to like in Waking Mars, although this game is less surreal and a fair bit more straightforward to explore.

The good news: Quite a deep and rewarding gaming experience, without being overly serious or pretentious. Graphics aren’t mind-blowing but they’re decent enough and it all looks quite pretty. Nice blend of platforming / jetpack exploration and encouraging the alien plants to grow, which is actually a load more fun than it sounds.

The bad news: The one-touch control method, while not really having any faults of its own, could arguably have an alternative relative touch control as an option for those of us who prefer that sort of thing.

Arcadelife verdict: If you’re after a different kind of iOS game, that doesn’t sacrifice fun and entertainment at the altar of originality, you’d be pushed to find one as different and entertaining as this. Well, maybe you would have been if Incoboto hadn’t also been released recently. Waking Mars is an engrossing and fun journey beneath the surface of Mars. Gameplay, while not totally relaxed, lets you blunder about mostly at your own pace and doesn’t punish you for trying things out (kind of the fundamental nature of the game) or even dying.

It gets hold of you in a subtle way, mostly by making you want to grow plants on Mars, which is not something many of us would have previously considered doing, even in a video game. There’s a chance that you might go in expecting more action and platforming than Waking Mars ends up delivering, which could lead to slight disappointment, so give that some thought. Overall, it’s a quality title, full of content, no IAPs, and the controls won’t let you down; easy to recommend.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8.5/10
Audio – 7/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 83/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Waking Mars website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
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