A hidden gem from a French game studio Spiders

Mars – War Logs is Spiders’ third original title that came out digitally in 2013 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Now the game is playable on Xbox One through backwards compatibility. Also, as the game’s sequel (prequel) The Technomancer released last summer, I thought it would be perfect time to experience an adventure on Mars’ surface. So, did I find my autumn’s true hidden gem?

The game takes place on the planet Mars, where a huge solar catastrophe hit the planet almost a century ago and put its colonies into chaos. Water is the most precious resource on the planet and different corporations are fighting to gain control of it. The game starts in a war prison Camp 19, where the player, Roy Temperance, saves a boy named Innocence from a fat guy whose about to rape him. Very soon after, Roy and Innocence begin to plan an escape from the prison. Seeing Roy as his mentor and role model, Innocence starts to write a war journal of the adventures he’s about to experience with Roy…

overview
Mars – War Logs setting on Mars is great
overview2
Planet Mars looks colorful and vivid (at first)

Game’s story feels huge and has a great potential to be even epic. The gaming world and the characters have a lot of detailed history. Still, I was disappointed how little of the world’s background was shared with the player during gameplay. Yes, war journal entries and indexes are available in the game’s pause menu, but I would have wanted to know more about the world through conversations and side quests. Even main character Roy’s background stays a bit mystery.

The setting is great and from the beginning it gives a very positive feeling of the game. Also, the planet Mars looks colorful and vivid at first but later the playing areas ended up being static and too much alike. I found it hard to navigate around different areas because of the resemblance of rooms and places which forced me to check the map every now and then. Still, the map can be accessed fast and can be left dimly floating over the gameplay screen. I liked character modelling, although there’s only a few different AIs. Still, I didn’t feel I was meeting the same faces too often. Animals (especially dogs) on the other hand look quite dull, and their movements are too simplistic.

map
The map can be left floating on screen

Mars – War Logs is described as an action/RPG game. RPG elements are light but spices up the game nicely. On the other hand, the game has also tough decisions: conversation options can stop your progress on side quests or even kill people. You never quite know what is going to happen. Another great RPG element is the levelling up system which is simple but at the same time has depth. You can develop and specialize your combat, stealth and power skills as well as your character features after completing mini challenges. These skills don’t make you a superman so the difficulty stays in balance. You can also lower or raise your reputation during the game but this feels useless and its functions are hard to understand.

skills
Level up system is simplistic but has depth
character
Character develops by completing challenges
discussion
Conversations spice up the game nicely

The action part is the game’s strength. Combat is basically hitting, blocking and dodging but there are special movements behind game-pausing action circle or hot-keys, like throwing sand on enemies faces. Later you can use powers like electrifying, shield and weapon charge. Peculiar is that enemies don’t die during battle rather they faint and then you can choose to kill them by sucking special serum from their blood. Serum acts the game’s currency but I managed to collect serum over than enough without killing. It’s also too easy to collect junk to develop your weapons and armour.

Action is the game’s strength

 

Overall experience in short

I enjoyed my stay on planet Mars. The game’s outer shell doesn’t shine like a big budget production but it has heart in it and lots of potential. Spiders’ work is somehow mystically unique and therefor the game deserves a hidden gem label.

PROS

+ The setting on Mars

+ Levelling up system

+ Combat

CONS

– The world’s history

– Areas look too much alike

– Reputation system

– Too much junk and money (or not much to do with them)

 

A brief bulletin of performance

The game was bought from Xbox Live Marketplace and was played on Xbox One through backwards compatibility. The game plays nicely on Xbox One: there’s no screen tear and the game runs smoothly. Loading times between rooms and places are fast and loading happens invisibly when going through doors or over edges. Loading to different areas are longer but not disturbing. I noticed that the bodies from battles stayed on playground very long time which added realism.

 

What are your opinions about Mars – War Logs? Please leave a reply below.

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