icon Author: VeVee
Occupy Mars: The Game Review

Platform: PC, Steam

Developers: Pyramid Games

Are you ready to face the challenges of surviving on Mars? Let your creativity soar as you navigate the harsh terrain of space. Leave civilisation behind and embrace the thrill of exploration. 

What Does Occupy Mars Ential?

Join the Mars colonization journey with Occupy Mars, a thrilling survival game inspired by real-life companies and technologies focused on making humanity a multi-planet species. Build and upgrade your base, explore new regions, mine resources, retrieve water, grow crops, generate oxygen, and fix broken equipment to survive the harsh terrain of Mars.

Your survival depends on ensuring your base has enough water, oxygen, power, and food. To achieve this, build greenhouses, oxygen tanks, and fuel generators. Properly manage the pipes and cables to thrive on Mars.

Understanding basic electronic components and tools is crucial for fixing broken parts. Explore various regions of Mars to discover mining sites and find the best location to build your city. Look for an area with good access to underground water and moderate temperatures.

Experience an open-world sandbox game with realistic day/night cycles and real challenges that colonists face. Build solar arrays and batteries for energy storage and find the optimal way to power your colony. Upgrade your vehicles and equipment in your garage and modify your rover for better performance.

Remember that Occupying Mars is not easy; sometimes, things may explode, break, or not go as planned. You must learn to cope with "Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly" and act quickly before you run out of air, food, or energy. 

(Screenshot- Landing in free mode.)

What is Gameplay Like?

At the start, you can choose either the campaign or free mode, and there's also a tutorial available for new players. Since I was new to the game, I decided to go through the tutorial. It was well-organized, with clear sections on different topics. However, I encountered some issues during certain parts of the tutorial. For example, I got the rover stuck on a rock, and there were also instances where the tutorial didn't register that I had picked up a required cable for wiring. Despite these glitches, the tutorial provided a good foundation and helped me get started within Freemode.

The game does offer character customization, but it seems that the developers didn't put much effort into it, as it is quite basic. However, a positive aspect is that you can display your national flag as a badge on your shoulders.

You have non-playable characters (NPCs) to interact and collaborate with throughout the campaign. The "training" phase involves completing two tutorial parts. Knowing this beforehand would have been helpful as I had already completed the tutorial in the main menu.

The gameplay can feel like a job simulation during the campaign since you complete tasks for non-playable characters at the base. You don't get a whole lot of freedom with creativity. Although keeping track of oxygen and other necessities is still necessary, it is much simpler due to the existence of a large base.

I found Freemode to be more enjoyable. With a blank slate, you can build your base however you please. Additionally, there is ample space (pun not intended) to explore without restrictions.

Based on my observations, the game mode that receives the most emphasis is the free mode. You must monitor your oxygen, hunger, and water while constructing your base in this mode. You'll need various tools to create or gather the necessary resources to construct your ideal base. One drawback is the inability to "decorate" your base, but considering it is in space, such an expectation would be somewhat unrealistic.

If you are looking for a game with exceptional graphics, this may not be the best choice for you. To be honest, I found it quite underwhelming in terms of visual appeal. Regarding music, I found it to be quite bothersome and monotonous, leading me to eventually turn it off entirely.

(screenshot of tutorial layout)

Pros and Cons

Starting with Pros:

  • The free mode has 3 difficulties, Tourist (easy), Colonist (average) and finally, Madman (hard.)
  • UI is clear and easy to use.
  • Plenty of things to work on such as base, planting, mining, driving, and exploring.
  • Immersive and fun.
  • Realistic gameplay.
  • Repairing circuit boards is a fun and creative minigame.
  • Multiplayer is an option.
  • Lots of things to research and unlock.
  • Devs are constantly updating the game.
  • Hours worth of gameplay.

Now for the Cons:

  • The graphics give me console 2010 vibes.
  • The music is obnoxious and annoying.
  • Constant clipping when walking through a door, so you get stuck and have to wiggle a little bit to get through finally.
  • Regarding the campaign, some of the voice actors fell flat.
  • Early access (there are a lot of bugs.)
  • The world is boring, but it is Mars, and there are certainly no Martians here.
  • Even with tutorials, at times, it could be confusing as to how the mechanics work. For instance, I couldn't figure out how to drink water (you don't, you equip an H20 bottle.) There were a few other things the tutorial didn't teach as well.

(Screenshot- Character customisation.)

My Overall Opinion

I must admit that I truly enjoyed playing this game, even though it could use some improvements. However, I have a weakness for games that involve building bases. I found it difficult to concentrate on the campaign mode, as I grew tired of running around for others when my passion was to construct and discover. I became so engrossed in the game that I almost missed an appointment. Oops!

It certainly is a challenging game, even in easy mode, so don't expect to relax. 

If you enjoy survival games, this one is worth checking out. Base building enthusiasts will also find it appealing, and those who love space exploration will have plenty to enjoy. As someone who enjoys all three, I must admit to being a bit biased in my opinion.

Although the graphics and bugs in this EA title may not be up to par, it's important to remember that it's still in early access and the developers have promised improvements upon release. As it stands, the game is still in its infancy. 

Therefore I give it my stamp of...

 Give It Time 

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