Occupy Mars - PC (Steam) Preview

Occupy Mars: The Game by developer Pyramid Games and publisher PlayWay S.A.PC preview written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes


Occupy Mars: The Game is an open world title where the objective is to build a base to endure the harsh environment by using basic survival skills. With a short tutorial, some of the foundational skills needed to survive is explained before entering the deep end of the campaign. After landing on Mars in an escape pod, it's imperative to search ruined bases to salvage items to build a new home for yourself. And as far as you can see, there is no other life on the planet. To sum up the presentation of the game, it has a great foundation to build upon but has some mixed reception.

General Thoughts

My first impression of Occupy Mars is hopeful. On the surface, it looks like the game will be good because the visuals are mostly polished, the gameplay is passable, and the interactions with the environment is decent enough. (Although, there is something to be said for the object hitboxes...) We embark on an exploration journey to salvage broken equipment and bases so that we can live on Mars. This core loop is fine but, as time went on I became frustrated with the game and not because of the core open world survival principles. Simply put, there's just not a lot to the title. 

Now, it's quite clear that Occupy Mars is in Early Access as there are plenty of patches that have been deployed to fix the myriad of bugs that players have encountered. There's also been a bunch of improvements to the overall experience from when it launched into Early Access on May 10th which inspires hope for a successful full release down the road. Additionally, many of the major issues with Occupy Mars seem to have been contained or fixed since launch. Thus, I maintain hope for its continued development.   

Despite the general outlook of the game's future, I am not a fan of the campaign in its current state. Originally my impression was that the campaign was meant to tick off video game checkboxes because the tutorial is paltry at best. After further thought, and a few restarts, the campaign's beginning weirdly works. Instead of dropping you into the fire, the game lets you do rudimentary tasks within an established base. This is important because you don't get that luxury in many games within the survival genre. So, once you get a sense of key elements of gameplay, then you are thrown into the deep end. You will need to start from scratch but with the knowledge of what your home base *could be*. Essentially, the game gives you plenty of opportunities to envision your ultimate home without giving you a laundry list of objectives or awkward building placements that you are forced into using.


When you scavenge wreckage and explore Mars, you get to handle the survival part of the game. Not only will you have to find and make parts on your own, but you will also have to construct an entire base. This is challenging in itself because you have to research various technologies to build one. You will be confronted with conserving water, electricity generation, and managing hunger while searching for tablets that contain blueprints to progress. 

In the campaign, you will also deal with natural disasters like meteor storms. When these events occur, you will need to repair your base which gives the game an extra layer of difficulty. There's nothing quite like the threat of losing your base because of a random disaster. But these disasters force you to remain awake as time passes by. If that wasn't enough, your health drains as you become increasingly hungry or tired. This concept is not bad as it increases the difficulty of the game. However, forcing us to stand still inside the landing pod (at the beginning) is a complete miss in my opinion. I think the inclusion of disasters is a good one, but not as early as it is. The reason for that is because the player has nothing to do. We can't even speed up time either, which would make this element much more bearable for new players.

Aside from some aspects of base building, the slow time progression, and the challenge of resource conservation, my main issue with Occupy Mars is how little substance there is. On the surface, it looks fleshed out and visually beautiful in places. However, basic functions don't work the same way depending on what items you are using. For example, if you pick up a cable, pressing right click will drop the object. If you are holding a tool, right click will put the object away. It's not a huge issue, however, it can be confusing to know which objects end up in your inventory and which ones fall to the ground.

To elaborate on the game having little substance, when dashing out to a ruined base for parts, there are vast open areas with nothing to see. The video game version of Mars does not appear to have any kind of life forms to break up the monotony of the environment. And while I'm not expecting there to be an oasis or anything, I was expecting some kind of weird creature or at least some bones to add life to the planet. Even adding random broken monuments of past civilizations that doesn't get explained could be added to give some hope for survival. But without having anything exciting beyond the slow story campaign and flat environment, there is little reason to play the campaign mode over the free play one.

Final Thoughts

At this time, Occupy Mars has a decent foundation to build upon, but right now it is a bit thin for what I've seen in Early Access games. As this is a preview of the game, I can only hope that the game developers have plans to expand this title to have a successful full release. As it stands, the price tag is a little steep for what it is. 

So far, Pyramid Games have been patching the game and are continuing to update various aspects of it, which is what we like to see in Early Access. Additionally, there will be another major update that will address a number of issues that base building enthusiasts have commented about, which keeps me hopeful that the game will become an excellent entry in this genre. That's not to say that the game won't be worth the price down the road, but I'd give it a little more time before purchase.  
Score: N/A
Article by: Susan N.