Deliver Us to Mars takes the franchise to new heights with unique climbing system

published, 2022-11-23T14:00:00

Updates, 2022-11-23T09:20:05

Deliver Us to Mars, developer Keoken’s sequel to Deliver Us to the Moon, is an intriguing adventure that blends environmental storytelling with a freeform climbing system and puzzles to create a sense of tension even without the combat.

In our hands-on preview we jumped, climbed, and tangled our way through a couple of levels, but it’s the questions asked by each that have us itching to play more when the game arrives in 2023.

astronaut in training

Deliver Us Mars screenshot showing a crashed spacecraftKeoken Interactive

As all good space colony stories go, Deliver Us Mars paints a troubling and all-too-familiar future for humanity on Earth. Faced with catastrophic weather and dwindling resources, humanity looks to the stars.

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This sequel to Deliver Us to the Moon is set 10 years after the conclusion of that story, and begins with Cathy Johansson, an astronaut-in-training working to retrieve the ARKs. These massive ships flew into space but were co-opted by Outward, an organization of unknown intent. Worse yet, Cathy’s father Isaac was instrumental in the kidnapping of the ARK.

Many videogame heroes are blank slates, but Cathy is determined to find out what happened to her father and the ARK, even if it isn’t always at odds with those around her. This makes him instantly more interesting and nuanced than many, including the first game’s unnamed protagonist.

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Deliver Us Mars screenshot showing laser puzzKeoken Interactive

It doesn’t hurt that 2001: A Space Odyssey is back from the prequels, and Deliver Us to Mars certainly leans deeper into them with a mix of a spherical robot companion and sterile environment that’s sci-fi in the best possible way. feels.

Those environments also offer some startling discoveries in a narrative sense, as in what Kathy and her robotic companion do with the ARK, its crew, and her father. We won’t spoil anything here, but it’s fair to say that all was not well for the Colonists, and more details could be teased as the scenes are recreated.

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This is done through puzzles, and in return for combat, players can expect a lot. In one sequence we had control panels attached to doors with laser beams, and it didn’t take long to add new wrinkles to Deliver Us Mars when things started rolling in, which of course were caressing our chins in our space helmets.

going up

Deliver Us Mars screenshot showing the landscape of MarsKeoken Interactive

Our favorite part of Deliver Us Mars, though, is its approach to scaling vertical surfaces. While Cathy is able to run, jump, and use a small laser cutter, many of the game’s locations feature a series of climbable walls.

It takes some getting used to because Cathy’s left and right limbs (and the climbing axes in her hands) are essentially controlled independently. You must first attach yourself to a surface, and then move it in indefinite intervals while maintaining a grip on one side and plunging the axes into the next.

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deliver us a mars screenshot showing the ascentKeoken Interactive

One wrong button press (or click, in this instance), could see him fall to his death, and while the initial animations look a bit harsh, the whole process is just clicks minutes later. It’s like a much more demanding version of Modern Warfare 2009’s cliffhanger mission, and it makes for a bit of Nathan Drake’s effortless vaulting, leaping, and clambering. very Easier in comparison.

It’s elevated by an orchestral score that feels equal parts epic and serene, with frequent swells giving way to long pauses that elevate the biggest moments.

final thoughts

In our time with Deliver Us Mars it became clear that developer Keoken is setting its sights higher than its previous iteration.

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We’ll have to wait until February to find out if the rest of the game is as interesting as this piece was, but we’re excited to find out.

Deliver Us Mars will launch on February 2, 2023.

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