Deliver Us Mars
By Angelica Guarino,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Sci-fi adventure has strong story, some clunky gameplay.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
About halfway through the game, Deliver Us Mars tells the story of an attempt to colonize Mars gone horribly wrong. All of the unintended consequences of this well-meaning plan are somewhat realistic and important to consider, which leaves room for families to have discussions about what they think would happen in this situation.
Positive Role Models
The game's protagonist, Kathy, has faced several challenges in her life. But, Kathy's resolve, curiosity, and resourcefulness are positive to see. Her mission team also shows great teamwork, bravery, and perseverance when things don't go as planned on board the ship.
It's really cool to see a game pull off having three out of the four astronauts on the Opera mission as female-identifying. In addition, everyone on the mission team follows the direction of the mission team's captain -- Claire -- when something goes wrong. No one on Earth nor on the mission team undermines her authority. In fact, they don't seem to give it a second thought. She's simply the best person for the job.
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Ease of Play
The game mechanics can be frustrating to get right. For instance, there are many sections of the game that use a climbing mechanic to get Kathy to and from new locations. Even dexterous players could face problems getting this to work correctly, as the controls don't always respond as expected. In addition, navigating the map between objectives can be confusing, as it's not always clear where players need to travel to next.
Violence & Scariness
The characters in Deliver Us Mars live in a dangerous world. Many characters will die or become injured throughout the course of the game. But there isn't any combat in-game. These injuries and deaths happen in cutscenes and are not dependent on the player's actions. Nevertheless, this can be disturbing for some players, as may situations are designed to be full of suspense and make players uncomfortable.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are a few instances of married couples sharing quick kisses. Kathy and Claire also discuss dating and sexuality briefly in one sequence.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents needs to know that Deliver Us Mars is a downloadable science fiction adventure game available for Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows. Throughout the game, cinematic cutscenes are threaded together by sections of puzzle-solving, exploration, and platforming through environments like an abandoned space station, the cragged desert of Mars, and the remains of an energy-starved Earth. Above all the space exploration and sci-fi elements, Deliver Us Mars is a story about a family. Through flashback scenes, players learn about the childhood of Kathy, the game's protagonist, and her relationship with her father, Isaac, and her sister, Claire. These intertwine with present-day scenes showing the story behind Kathy and Claire's expedition to Mars. It's a complicated story with complex characters, and there are some images potentially disturbing for young children - such as characters dying from a terrorist attack and an explosion. There are also some images of dead bodies with mild blood effects. But the characters also show teamwork and perseverance in accomplishing their goals.
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Deliver Us Mars
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What’s It About?
DELIVER US MARS takes places in the not-so-distant future as Earth experiences a horrific energy crisis brought on by climate change. Players follow protagonist Kathy, a young astronaut, as she joins her older sister, Claire, on a crucial mission to Mars. The sisters, joined by engineer Sarah and her husband, Ryan, must respond to a distress signal sent from the ARKs, a set of ships sent to colonize Mars ten years earlier. Seeing as Claire and Kathy's father, Isaac, left Earth on the ARKs as part of the Fortuna mission, the stakes are incredibly high for both of them. While Kathy may forgive her father for leaving her and Claire behind, Claire doesn't feel the same way. Issues in their relationship with their father have put walls between Claire and Kathy as well, with Claire acting as a surrogate mother figure to Kathy, and Kathy desperately trying to prove to her sister that she's grown into an adult. To make matters more complicated, Earth is running out of many resources as a result of the energy crisis, including what's needed to make various space ship parts. On the morning of the group's mission, nicknamed Mission Opera, Claire tells the group that the ship's construction is subpar, making an already dangerous trip even more risky. Unable to turn back, the team is forced to face their uncertain fate, the doubt growing among each character as their ship lifts off and travels further and further away from Earth.
Is It Any Good?
Interactive, story-rich drama is difficult to pull off well in video games, and this adventure unfortunately reminds players why. Though the storytelling in Deliver Us Mars is full of emotion and compelling to watch, some stretches feel like they're tedious breaks between cutscenes instead of bridges between them. Though the graphics are beautiful, many of the environments don't encourage free exploration. Kathy starts in one place, and has to get to another before the next cutscene triggers, and that's really it. There are puzzles and platforming sections, but they end up feeling like a way to kill time instead of seamless transitions. This makes the game feel disjointed and difficult to get through when players come to a long platforming section or a puzzle that's tedious. It's not game-ruining, but it's easy to see how the game may struggle to hold players' attention all the way from beginning to end.
It's a mixed bag, though. While many puzzles feel like a drag to complete, there are a few truly outstanding gameplay sequences. The lift-off sequence is impeccably designed. Though players are essentially just responding to a few simple commands from Claire to get the ship ready for take-off, the suspense and excitement builds at a steady rate. Moreover, it pays off once the ship does take off. It's a deeply immersive scene that begs to be ported over to VR. The second standout sequence takes place when Kathy performs a space walk to fix some damage outside of the ship. The zero-gravity mechanic can take a second to figure out, but it's very effective in getting players to feel the stress and excitement of space travel that most people will never actually experience. These two sequences alone may be able to redeem the so-so gameplay for players who are interested in them, but it's a disappointment that they come fairly early in the game and aren't followed by many more first-person scenes.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about climate change. Deliver Us Mars depicts Earth as a declining planet that's becoming impossible for people to live on, so how can people in real life work to protect our planet's resources, like water and energy?
Characters in Deliver Us Mars don't always tell each other the truth about how they're feeling, but if they did, what would be different about how the story unfolds?
- Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- Pricing structure: Paid ($29.99)
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Frontier Developments
- Release date: February 2, 2023
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: STEM, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Mild Blood
- Last updated: February 28, 2023
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