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Waking Mars Review
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Waking Mars, an adventure game with cave-flying elements (though not in the traditional sense) from Tiger Style Games, is now available from the app store. Just as Eufloria impressed us with its incorporation of naturalistic aspects into an RTS shell, Waking Mars has built its science fiction adventure around creating and cultivating plant life to reinvigorate the fourth rock from the sun.

Waking Mars Pros:

  • Gorgeous environments with plenty of great detail and smooth animation
  • Simple tap and drag controls
  • Soothing, ethereal soundtrack
  • Puzzling elements as you learn of each plants properties and relationship to the environment
  • GameCenter integration for leaderboards and achievements

Waking Mars Cons:

  • No voiceover dialogue
  • Somewhat repetitive

Nearly a century into the future, the discovery of life on Mars precipitates our hero, Dr. Liang Qi, finding himself on a recovery mission to find a lost drone. With the help of Dr. Ronga and your suit’s AI module (ART), you make your way to the red marble only to find yourself trapped beneath the surface and struggling for survival in unfamiliar territory. Backstory unfolds via conversations with your team while exploring the subterranean pathways, as you use your jetpack to fly around and navigate your surroundings, seeking out fertile grounds along the way. Through the use of seeds, you’ll need to create plots of plant life to facilitate your escape. With a variety of plant types and the special abilities inherent in each kind, you’ll need to learn how best to arrange your floral gardens to keep their advantages holding steady in your favor. Moving from one location to the next requires you to unlock the gateway by exceeding a biomass threshold in your current area. There is a good deal of strategy involved as you work to create mutually beneficial relationships between the various life forms with which you come into contact to reach this target amount. An awareness of the intricacies of the interconnectedness of various life components is fundamental if you want to excel in the exciting task at hand. Experimentation allows you to fill the pages of your research manual with the knowledge necessary to understand how each seed and plant will interact with elements in its environment. A number of dangers stand in your way, such as caustic acids, magma, and crumbling rock formations that must be avoided. The healing power of certain plants will fix you up nice, though. Waking Mars is more about the experience than winning a game, and the ride is more engaging than we could have expected.

Graphically, Waking Mars places you inside a beautiful world full of earth tones and reddish hues that offer subtle reminders of the strange and barren environment of which you are a visitor. The plants add splashes of color that create a lively and inviting atmosphere. Great attention to detail went into the creation of the game’s look, making for an immersive experience that’s a joy to witness. The soundtrack reinforces the celestial atmosphere well, and the various sound effects further enhance the space themes. Controls utilize tapping and dragging to indicate where Dr. Qi should move, and a circular seed selection menu provides the necessary components to foster life by popping up from the lower right corner and allowing you to fling seeds into their targeted spots via taps. A map and your research manual are a tap away in the bottom left corner, which turns out to be unfortunate placement due to a number of accidental activations that pulled us out of the experience. It would have been nice to tuck them away at the screen top with our health meter and star-biomass indicator.

Replay value is good, with 3 difficulty levels to allow you to adjust the experience to your liking. Otherwise, you probably won’t feel a strong urge to delve into the adventure again unless you want to enjoy the great visuals and interesting core concepts. GameCenter integration allows for leaderboards and an achievement system. A universal app for $4.99, Waking Mars is a 4.5-Dimple stud.

Waking Mars Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2012-03-08T03:36:03+00:00 rating 4.5 out of 5

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