Starfield, The Callisto Protocol, and the remake of Dead Space are spearheading a space game renaissance, but Deliver Us Mars, the sci-fi adventure sequel to Steam hit Deliver Us the Moon, currently on show at Gamescom 2022, wants to deliver something very different, focusing on exploration and wonderment as opposed to shooting and combat.
If you haven’t already seen the beta gameplay for Deliver Us Mars, it serves as a direct but standalone sequel to Deliver Us the Moon, the 2018 sci-fi sleeper hit from Dutch developer KeokeN Interactive. In the original game, you play a lone astronaut, dispatched to the Moon to recover a rare element that’s key to saving Earth from its imminent energy crisis – like its predecessor, Deliver Us Mars does not feature combat, but rather platforming, puzzles, and problem solving, a kind of cross between Tomb Raider and Portal as you battle to navigate and survive the desolate Red Planet.
Speaking at Gamescom 2022 to PCGamesN, Raynor Arkenbout, narrative designer on Deliver Us Mars, explains how the game will carve its own niche in the increasingly populated space genre.
“I think it makes sense that there’s so many space games,” says Arkenbout. “I think we’re just in a time period right now that space fascinates us. So, I’m actually not worried in the sense that we are all very just engrossed by the theme and arena of it.
“We love The Callisto Protocol. I can’t wait to play it. But our game is definitely not going to be about war and shooting and that kind of stuff. We definitely sit on our own part of that scene. Inherently, the game is going to be about something so much else, a narrative-driven drama. It’ll take a very different fancy.”
Aside from its focus on narrative and problem solving, Deliver Us Mars also features a neat mechanic, whereby scaling the cliffs and hauling yourself over the rough, Martian geography is made to feel suitably laborious, as your two climbing pickaxes are controlled independently. This isn’t Assassin’s Creed, where jumping and free-running can be steered by holding down just a single button. If you don’t want to fall to your death, you need to time each axe placement carefully, and alternate between different keys. Tweaking these kinds of mechanics is one of the reasons that Deliver Us Mars has been delayed from its initial release date.
“We were doing really well,” Arkenbout explains, “but I think we were looking at it and felt that if we gave ourselves a bit more time, we could really enable that ambition we keep talking about. It’s about polish. I think taking those couple of months really will just serve the game better. People will be happier about it. I will be happier about it. It was a difficult decision, but also, I think, the best one to make right now. I’m a gamer myself and I think every gamer in the world wants a developer who will say ‘let’s finish it’ instead of just pushing it out the door.”
Deliver Us Mars is now slated for release February 2, 2023. In the meantime, you can try your hand at some of the other best space games, or perhaps some of the best upcoming games or survival games for PC. PCGamesN is reporting live from Gamescom 2022 and will continue bringing you exclusives on all the big games revealed there.