It wasn’t until recently I was able to dive into Deliver Us The Moon. For years, I’d heard great things about it from almost everyone I’d asked about it. We even reviewed it a few years ago and it wasn’t until I got a Steam Deck that I sunk the 10 hours it took to see credits. Now, KeokeN Interactive returns with Deliver Us Mars and while it mostly delivers (heh) a satisfying follow-up, it isn’t without some growing pains that make this an uneven sequel.
For starters, it was a nice surprise to learn that you don’t necessarily need to play Deliver Us The Moon to enjoy the story in Deliver Us Mars. Earth has fallen into uninhabitable territory due to years of negligence from the various governing bodies across the planet. In a lot of these stories, the only way for humanity to survive is to look to the stars, specifically Mars in this case.
Deliver Us Mars Is A Great Sequel
In Deliver Us Mars you control astronaut Kathy Johanson, a representative of the World Space Agency. As part of a small team, which also includes her older sister Claire, you set off for the Red Planet. Kathy wants to make the journey to Mars for another reason — ten years earlier, around the time when Deliver Us The Moon is set, her father Isaac took off from the moon in a rocket. Whether he is still alive and whether he and his companions may even have succeeded in colonizing Mars is something you have to find out in the course of the game. Depending on how you play, the game lasts roughly eight to twelve hours, roughly twice as long as its predecessor.
The Arks were advanced sleeper ships capable of prolonging humanity and were the key to survival against the impending disasters Earth faced. Isaac was one of the original scientists charged with helping humanity survive only for him to abandon his daughters Kathy and Claire on Earth. In the years that followed, Kathy is fixated on finding her father while Claire has seemingly decided to focus on her own life and look to the future. The familial narrative starring the Johanson family is easily the highlight of Deliver Us Mars, effectively holding the campaign together and providing a relatable story some may find hits close to home.
Kathy has never given up hope of finding her father, and the chance to finally see him again comes when a mysterious signal is picked up on Mars, indicating that the three missing Arks are there. So, Kathy and Claire, together with Sarah and Ryan, the two other astronauts on your team, set off for the Red Planet on a mission to find the lost Arks.
A Dusty Planet
As it’s been a few years since its predecessor launched, the developers have retooled and improved gameplay, despite it feeling familiar. A lot of the time Kathy will be left working through puzzles which then push the plot forward. Some puzzles are more difficult than others and the main gimmick seeing Kathy and her drone AYLA working together to complete environmental tasks, like cutting through segments of metal with a laser or maneuvering the drone through some tight spaces. There’s a decent level of variety here and new mechanics to make things feel diverse like climbing sections which require some precision to finish.
Kathy’s equipped with two ice axes to help her scale environments and it feels pretty good when in motion. By using the triggers on your controller, you control Kathy’s arms as you climb and scale various surfaces. Although I had some trouble at the start, I eventually found a decent groove when climbing which made it a fine addition to the overall experience.
However, as much as I enjoyed some of the added changes to Deliver Us Mars, there are some things like some of the animations sometimes work against you. Kathy’s ability to climb is hindered by the animations used to move upward and it artificially extends segments I’d rather see finish faster. It isn’t a total nuisance, but it would make a world of improvement if climbing was a bit more gamified here.
Another thing that I had trouble acclimating to is the unevenness of the visuals and sometimes technical aspects. No doubt, the environments look great at times but then a small technical bug will make the entire thing come crashing down.
Bigger than its predecessor in almost every way, Deliver Us Mars is a relatable family drama with a sci-fi wrapper. Improved gameplay mechanics make this worth trying and while the puzzles aren’t implicitly challenging, they do enough to keep you invested and push the narrative forward. It’s clear that for a sophomore outing, KeokeN is a talented studio with a bright future ahead of them and I wholeheartedly am excited to see where they take us next.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5