I’ve long been fascinated, on some level, with the Red Planet and its colonization so I’m always intrigued when a new game comes along that is set on Mars. Mars War Logs looks immediately familiar to those who are fans of the old Mars adventure fiction novels, or the more modern tales like the Red Faction series. Though Spiders Studio have mixed in their own flavor to the setting one thing remains the same; nobody is ever just relaxing and having a good time on Mars.
Mars War Logs puts you in the boots of Roy, a prisoner of war who has been deposited in a POW camp that has seen better days, on a planet that has seen better days. The warring factions of the Red Planet have ravaged the land for so long that everything resembles a post-apocalyptic setting with people piecing together shelters and materials as best they can.
Combat in Mars War Logs follows a pretty standard third-person brawler formula where dodging, blocking, and countering are important if you want to succeed. Guns and a form of electricity control called Technomancy are secondary attacks that can augment your overall strategy, but most of the time you’ll be swinging a pipe or other improvised weapon. Sneaking around, setting traps, can make things interesting but you’ll never be too far out from having to brain a few bad guys.
Roy will be able to advance his skills in three different disciplines that boil down to combat, stealth, and shooting electricity from your hands. You won’t be forced into choosing one path over the other as you’ll end up with enough skill points to mix and match from all three skill trees. You’ll also be able to upgrade your weapons and armor through an extensive little crafting system. Upgrades don’t just translate into increased stat points, they’ll also change the look and style of your gear which is a neat touch.
Divided into three chapters, Mars War Logs shows off a flexible narrative and questing system that makes your choices really matter in the first chapter. Which side quests you choose to complete, and how you choose to complete them has actual impact on the events and how the conclusion of the chapter goes down. In the second and third chapter, however, you aren’t given the sense that the things you are doing are having the subtle effects they did in the first chapter. There are a few major decisions you have to make but they lack the grand scale shown off in the first chapter. Each chapter also relies heavily on backtracking, especially the second, so as long as you’re prepared for that you can still have a good time.
Though the dialog comes across a little goofy sometimes, the overall story of Mars War Logs is an interesting one, and does offer some replay value with a few major decisions and a simple reputation system at play. While I would have loved to see more of just about every element in the game, more weapons and armor, more Technomancer abilities, and more branching paths, Mars War Logs wraps up at around the ten hour mark; just the right time for its price point and level of depth.
Mars War Logs is a fun and interesting take on Mars as a setting, and pays homage to the classics while adding a bit of its own flavor. While the game forgets itself at times, the non-linear and optional nature of the quests offer lot of reasons to replay the game at least once. Mars War Logs isn’t perfect but if you’re looking for a short and sweet Action RPG experience, go grab it now.