39 Days to Mars Review – A Cup of Warm Sweet Tea
39 Days to Mars24th April, 2018
Four years ago a game over trebled its lofty Kickstarter goal of... Wait, $1000? New Zealand Dollars at that. Okay, so maybe 39 Days to Mars isn't the blockbuster nostalgic trip that you're used to seeing come from a Kickstarter success. That's a good thing really because we all know how titles like Mighty No. 9 fared. But enough about other games, let's take a short trip to Mars and have a lovely cup of tea.
Cups of Tea. Although I like them, of course I do, I'm British - they're the bane of my existence in this game. There's something falling apart, smoke rising from your ramshackle Victorian spaceship. Rather than fix it immediately, you have to make a cup of tea. Not only will any cup of tea do, it has to be the perfect one. Only the perfect one changes depending on the mood of your fickle adventurer. One day he likes a sweet, milky tea. The next, a hot, dark one. Never salty though, which makes a lot of sense to me.
It's the sense of humour that It's Anecdotal, the one man studio, are going for. It hits more than it misses as well, I certainly chuckled a few times. It's also the absurd tied into this, and the stereotypical British perseverance through any trials. Who else would think to fix a landing ship with a rusty bed screw, a rock, an old leather boot and a ball of gunk?More
than a good sense of humour, 39 Days to Mars doesn't outstay its welcome with incomprehensible puzzles either. That's what it is, first and foremost, a puzzle game. Only this is a puzzle game for two people. Much like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, it is designed for co-op couch play. In an ideal situation you'll have a person you can unchain from your dungeon for the purposes of controlling the second character. Unfortunately, I didn't.
Ghosts of Mars thankfully lets you play single player and control both the spacefaring adventurer and, of course, his cat. The game recommends you use a controller throughout, something I also recommend. While out of a puzzle you control of the person with both analogue sticks as well as the trigger buttons. While in a puzzle, the left analogue stick and left trigger controls one character while the right side controls the other. Needless to say, my brain had to get used to multi-tasking. After all, I'm just a bloke.The puzzles work well with the design, s
etting and comedy styling that the game puts forward. Be this from jumping off to mine space-coal on a penny farthing to fighting a giant space kraken with just a broom stick, all while your ally or cat has to reel you back into the ship, attached by just a rope. There's something wonderfully simple about the game and it makes for a lovely little romp.While on the subject of design, there's something just lovely about the art here. It's all very much like a drawn art piece. Some aspects are wonderful, particularly the detail
that has gone into aspects like the tree at the start of the game, the overview as you (potentially) descend to Mars. Particularly so if you hit a rock or two on the way down. It's a testament to what a one man team can do, particularly with the use of music. The music in particularly is a feat, mostly due to my impression that it's mostly free open-source stuff. I could be wrong there, I only half-watched the credits.
3rd Rock from the Sun isn't a long game by any stretch of the imagination. A single playthrough can take you anywhere up to two hours. At least the first one. Later playthroughs may take an hour. They're definitely worth it though, if only to experience the alternate paths to Mars. It can be surprising the routes you can eventually take and although I've only played through the game three times, I'm going to have to jump back on to see what 'mistakes' lead down a new, intriguing, route.
39 Days to Mars is a short but funny and compelling trip from Earth to Mars with you and another person, or you and a pet cat. Designed for couch co-op, it doesn't penalise you for being a misanthrope like myself and offers a good amount of replay value with varied paths to take. It's well worth taking this trip to the red planet.
- Great visual design
- Simple but interesting puzzles
- Great sense of humour
- Multiple paths to go down, offering high replay value
- Despite this, it's a little short
- After the first playthrough, the core puzzles lose all challenge.