The survival genre has picked up quite a bit of steam! Even Bethesda just announced their take on the genre in the form of Fallout: 76 (at least according to rumors.) Spanning dozens of settings and environments, gamers have survived everything from zombie outbreaks to brutal winters to prehistoric beasts. Soon, however, they can take the challenge to the red planet itself, courtesy of Limbic Entertainment’s Memories of Mars.
Memories of Mars is a first-person survival game with action elements that drops players into a bleak landscape and forces them to, well, figure it out. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a much sought after closed beta code and give it a whirl. That being said, please keep in mind that all impressions here are based on an incomplete version of the game, though I will add that it rarely felt anything less than finished.
Like most survival games, players spawn in a particular locale and explore the environment. Materials are spread out for the player to collect and craft into much needed tools and resources. As the player survives for longer and completes tasks, they obtain FLOPs (the progress currency) and survival points to expand their repertoire. This is one element that really impressed me from the start. Knowing that there was no way I’d even scratch the surface of all these options in my limited time only made me want to play more.
Surviving on the shelf
While its concept isn’t unlike ARK: Survival Evolved or The Long Dark, Memories of Mars certainly seems to lean into the action a bit more. I spent much of my journey crafting bullets over and over again to fight off dozens of alien creatures. The gun-play itself seemed fairly solid, though I found some frustration in the amount of HP even the smallest monsters enemies had. I was unloading clips into these suckers left and right! Luckily resources are plentiful and survival is the name of the game so I can’t exactly complain.
With the enemies and atmosphere is a certain horror element that feels almost akin to Dead Space, though it’s handled with deft subtlety. It’s hardly a focal point, but the introductory moments definitely left me with an eerie feeling. This piece of the experience really puts an underlying urgency to the survival process that I found different and enthralling. Survival horror, if you will, but in a more 80/20 way.
The proof is in the planet
All of this aside, the most fascinating part of Memories of Mars is the planet itself. Mars is an intriguing setting as it is mostly foreign, yet feels strangely familiar due to being tackled by so many mediums. What Memories of Mars really gets right in this aspect is making the planet feel lived on. You are not the first person to explore it and finding evidence of that is truly exciting. From random equipment and storage units to huge complexes and laboratories, these instances bring the world to life. The little details really count and I must say, the game truly clicked with me when the sun rose over the horizon and I could see a new destination in the distance.
As a closed beta, it was not without its flaws. Some floating items (though argument could be made that this was due to the outer space setting…) and jumpiness put a few hiccups in the experience, but the game seems well-optimized and is quite nice to look at. There could be a bit more weight to the combat, but even that feels like a nitpick within the bigger picture. Overall, the scale of the game is impressive and the elements play to the strengths of the setting by making the player feel quite alone, even knowing there are others out there.
Is Memories of Mars the game to change the minds of those not already invested in the survival genre? Maybe not. It is, however, a game that reorients the norm in bold and entertaining ways. I left the beta absolutely clamoring for more and I think the developers will have a hit on their hands when it fully releases. If you have an interest in survival, space, or sandbox style action-adventures, this is one you’ll want to be following.
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