In 2097, life is discovered on Mars. When your mission of first contact becomes trapped by a cave-in, you must master the alien ecosystem to survive. Soon you stumble upon more than anyone expected, and with time running out, you will make a decision that determines the fate of a lost planet.
User reviews:
Overall:
Very Positive (801 reviews) - 90% of the 801 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Dec 13, 2012

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Reviews

"Surprisingly thoughtful, delightfully atmospheric, smartly written, carefully designed...it gradually unfolds its secrets without holding your hand."
5/5 – Quarter to Three

A science-fiction epic that's a delight to explore, and rewarding to play
9/10 – Pocket Gamer

The game grows around you...deep and rich, like ivy
Rock Paper Shotgun

Thousands of video games ask you to take life, but very few ask you to create it
9.1/10 – Paste Magazine

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About This Game

In 2097, life is discovered on Mars. When your mission of first contact becomes trapped by a cave-in, you must master the alien ecosystem to survive. Soon you stumble upon more than anyone expected, and with time running out, you will make a decision that determines the fate of a lost planet.

Waking Mars is a one-of-a-kind adventure in which you jetpack through subterranean Mars encountering a host of extraordinary alien lifeforms that operate as a living, breathing ecosystem. Learn and master the behaviors of these creatures to create ecosystems of your own design if you are to survive and discover the secrets of Mars’ past.

Key Features

  • Explore an open-ended network of exotic caverns.
  • Decode mysterious signals and discover long lost ruins.
  • Survive an unearthly world of strange creatures and hazardous terrain.
  • Grow a vibrant, interconnected ecosystem of exotic plants and alien creatures.
  • Cultivate one species to feed another, eliminate unwanted infestations, and research unique behaviors.
  • 2012 IGF Nominee: Excellence in Audio. Features nearly two hours of critically acclaimed original music.
  • A fully PC native control scheme, designed for both mouse+keyboard and for gamepads.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X

    Minimum:

    • OS:Windows XP
    • Processor:x86-compatible, 2-Ghz or faster
    • Memory:512 MB RAM
    • Graphics:OpenGL 3.0, or OpenGL 2.1 with framebuffer extensions
    • Hard Drive:400 MB HD space

    Minimum:

    • OS:MacOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or higher
    • Processor:Intel Core 2 Duo
    • Memory:512 MB RAM
    • Graphics:OpenGL 3.0, or OpenGL 2.1 with framebuffer extensions
    • Hard Drive:400 MB HD space
Customer reviews
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Overall:
Very Positive (801 reviews)
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620 reviews match the filters above ( Very Positive)
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
10.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 27
This is a very cool little game. I recommend it for people who are looking for a non-violent exploration sci-fi experience. The thing that makes this game unique is the core gameplay element of building ecosystems. It basically consists of exploring cave systems and finding new forms of life. These lifeforms are plant-like creature called Zoa which can be planted in different kinds of soil, and you acquire different seeds to do this. Your goal is usually to raise biomass in any given area.

I loved the rewarding sense of accomplishment when you've built an ecosystem that sustains itself. Some of the areas are fairly small but there are large open cave sections where you end up building a huge, prosperous system that just keeps getting more and more dense as the different creatures within it interact with one another. You can also encounter areas which are fairly hard to achieve a desirable sustainability. Of course, sustainability isn't necessarily your goal in this game, but it is very satisfying when you achieve it. There is a strong element of scientific discovery in the game but also perhaps a lesson about ecology and how our choices affect outcome.

Aside from the fun of interacting with the various lifeforms, the storyline, while simple, is also very nice. The two main characters are likeable and the resolution to the plot is pleasing. Definitely try this out if you are looking for a different twist to the classic sidescroller.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
11.9 hrs on record
Posted: September 13
This is a great game about exploring and cultivating lifeforms on mars. What really makes it work well is the great art and soundtrack that make you feel immersed in the world as you are exploring it. Each new species and interaction you discover is exciting.

Additionally, throughout the game there is frequent dialogue between the characters, that is actually really funny. That added a lot to the experience.

Aside from this, on each level you have to plant things until there is a sufficiently strong ecosystem ("biomass") to move on. This part of the game is fun, too, but less fun later on if you get bored of it. Especially once you have already discovered every species, and it's just a matter of planting enough of them to move on.

Total playtime should be 6-10 hours (6 just to finish, 10 to get all endings and achievements). So it's a fairly quick, engaging game that you will be happy you played. Highly recommended!
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
79 of 81 people (98%) found this review helpful
Recommended
15.9 hrs on record
Posted: August 29, 2013
For far too long have sci-fi games been centered around violence and killing.

Thankfully this game is not one of those games. Waking Mars is a game about life and growth, not death and destruction.

Instead of some space soldier, you play as an astrobiologist on a quest of knowledge and discovery. Along the way the game gives some educational facts about Earth and Mars as well as insight on possible interactions within an ecosystems.

So if you desire games that are about growth or exploration, this contains both and should be on your wishlist or cart.
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71 of 72 people (99%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
18.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 31, 2014
Platform games aren't at the top of my list - mainly because of their limited world, low replayability and (many of them) being highly linear - however, Waking Mars is one of the most enjoyable games I've been playing lately, and for me, one of the best platform games to date. Its sci-fi/ Mars setting and artwork caught my attention; but it was the goal of creating and encouraging an ecosystem within the Red Planet that sold me on it.

The story is simple and straightforward, but it is intelligently executed and really intriguing. Character development is little, but just right. There are no enemies, only yourself, the 'flauna' and the environment - but you might be surprised at just how much of a threat you can pose to yourself. The goals are laid out before you in a no-nonsense manner: you are exploring, searching, gathering, manipulating, creating, and de-constructing to create, in a more favourable way to the environment's (and your) needs. There is something to be said for balance, and you learn by trial and error; but don't worry, there is nothing that you can't undo - though it may require a measure of patience.

The game mechanics are superbly fluid - the game runs without a hitch (it's enough for me to say that if I can run this on my present setup, anyone can - trust me). The time, work and research that went into this game is incredible. Overall gameplay is relaxing with adequate moments of doubt, constant wonder and dashes of uncertainty. It is a wonder to me that I do feel a sense of real isolation while playing - I think this is thanks to the beauty of the graphical style and the great music - but this is exactly what I would expect, it's the lonely and mysterious Red Planet, after all. The time it will take you to complete this game? It depends on you. I completed it at the listed time played.

One of the best features of this game for me was the ability to revisit any area at any time without limit. This alone makes this platformer just so non-linear. As well as being vital - you will have to travel around to resupply your seeds, revisit some areas dependant on other areas' progress, or just to re-balance an area if need be - it is a real treat to be able to return and see how the caverns have been thriving (or not) in your absence.

IMPORTANT: If non-stop action, mayhem and destruction - i.e. death-n-glory - are your bread-and-butter, you will fast become bored with Waking Mars. BUT...

...If you enjoy platform games, I believe this is a must for your collection and many will undoubtedly enjoy it. If you are a wary platformer like me, it may blow you away and you won't regret this purchase (reg. price is reasonable; on sale price, you'd be crazy not to try it).

Happily jet-packing (and occasionally bouncing) around in the ever-deepening caverns of Mars to re-awaken it... 11/10
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64 of 70 people (91%) found this review helpful
Recommended
13.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 24, 2014
Hard science fiction is a rare guest in video games. Not having any evil aliens or cool laser-shooting guns isn’t a good premise for dynamic action. Luckily, Waking Mars isn’t actually aiming at cheap thrills or fast-paced shooting, but rather prefers to be a meditative journey and succeeds at it.
The year is 2093, player takes the role of Liang, chinese astronaut, taking part in international planetary mission to Mars, studying life that was discovered in an underground cavern system. If the thought of some green evil aliens pointing their death-ray guns had crossed your mind at this point, shoo it away. Or maybe you’ve thought of some ancient ruins, secure vaults,containing secrets of advanced precursors? You’re wrong again. Life that has been discovered is rather primitive. It is a strange kind of hybrid between plants and animals. It’s called Zoa. Not much is known about these species; you will be the first and only human to make contact with it and observe it in its natural habitat.
And that is the game: travelling and observing, filling built in-game encyclopedia with articles describing behaviour and features of all types of these “plants”. Yes, there’s actually quite a lot of them. Some stay in place, some move around; some feel good on regular soil, some require acidic loam for growing. There are even those whose spores are exploding, killing all other Zoa around. There you have it, this is as much brutality as you can get in Waking Mars. While this is not the first video game declining use of violence as the main plot progression device and problem solver, not even the first among metroidvanias, it’s still an admirable feat. You wander around the caves, first on foot, later using jetpack, unveiling the beauty of an enclosed ecosystem, where various types of Zoa form a perfect cycle of life and death.
Most common obstacles on the player’s path are Cerebranes, gigantic membranes covering passages between caverns. In order to open them you’ll have to increase biomass. Picking up spores and placing them on fertile ground sounds easy enough, and it actually is… at the beginning. Increasing variety of species requires careful planning to achieve that sweet spot when that number is finally high enough. You’ll have to make everything work together with maximum “profit”. At its heart the game is nearly a city-builder where you connect houses with roads, provide appliances, keeping in mind the energy, waste and communications. Being a space “gardener” is a rather soothing process if you let it be so. This game doesn’t like those who are in a hurry, who can tip off balance so easily and want some obvious solutions. Eventually they will stumble upon a cave, where just picking up seeds and placing them on all the green spots won’t be enough. I can’t really say that Waking Mars requires out-of-the-box thinking, it’s not actually that hard, but there is space for creativity here. You can try different solutions, experiment with Zoa proportions.
The pace of the game is emphasized with main hero’s loneliness. Not in some metaphorical way, but in actual one. Liang is the only human here. His colleague Amani safely stays on the base and contacts him on the radio. This distant voice coming somewhere from above is as much company as you can get here. If you don’t count OCTO, mission’s AI, of course. It’s sci-fi after all. Dialogues being rare are wonderfully written, perfectly voiced and are presented in the right amount, are enough to keep the player’s head in the story progression, but not ruining that desolation mood.
Distinctive art-style inspired by 60s and 70s illustrations of popular science magazines glues all of that together, making this truly unique. This is a niché game, sure. But it stands out even among other metroidvanias. Being slow-paced and reflective it never becomes boring. It has that long-lost sense of intergalactic adventure and discovery, which we lost decades ago, surrendering it to Lucas’ space fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against that. And shooting can be fun too. But can we have more games like Waking Mars as well, please?
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56 of 59 people (95%) found this review helpful
Recommended
7.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 18, 2013
Waking Mars is a heavily story driven game with light metroidvania mechanics. Basically each room is a puzzle in which you are trying to increase the biomass by planting life. The artwork, from textures to character portraits, is top notch. The voice acting is professional, which in turn makes the plot focus of the game not bothersome.

It's immersive exploring the caverns of mars where you discover strange things. Also, seeing mini ecosystems emerge by your garden keeping is very neat. I thought the plot driven aspect was going to be bothersome, but it's so competently handled it's not a negative.

The only negatives that I could tell is that there's minimal in-game settings (no v-sync option I could find) and the "remove" function for planting is introduced a little too later in the game.

If you're looking for a chill puzzle game with some exploration, get this.
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55 of 58 people (95%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
23.4 hrs on record
Posted: July 19, 2015
Can't believe I never got around to writing a review for this amazing game but here goes something.

Waking mars is basically an adventure/action exploration based game that delivers a really nice sci-fi story about a planet in perpetual slumber that you must kick start so that a ecosystem of alien flora can thrive once more and then you can start to unravel the mystery of mars... who or what set this system up inside of a dead planet?

The music is topnotch, that bears a mention as well.
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42 of 45 people (93%) found this review helpful
Recommended
9.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2013
This is a well paced game focused on telling a story by letting you figure out how an alien ecosystem works. Its excellent minimalist script and remarkable voice acting do a great job at fleshing out the characters, and a few novel gameplay twists and a lot of attention paid to detail do the same for the caverns of Mars. There is no frantic combat: you follow research goals, meticulously analize ecosystems and provide solutions to advance your way deeper towars waking Mars' secret.

I felt like playing a Stanisław Lem novel - occasionally sluggish and a little bit clunky, but full of a certain wonder at discovering something monumental, with a calm, reasoned and incredibly human scientist working on the challenge together with you. Original gameplay and excellent presentation make for a clear and wholehearted recommendation.
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46 of 52 people (88%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
Recommended
15.0 hrs on record
Posted: January 22, 2015
Deciding take a break from the great and loud AAA projects and start download this game. What can I say, the recent indie games please me more than popular brands. If you are looking for mega graphics then just pass by, and if you want to turn your brain to think a little, enjoy a beautiful story and finally awaken Mars, you should definitely try it!
Recommend 10/10
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85 of 127 people (67%) found this review helpful
7 people found this review funny
Recommended
14.9 hrs on record
Posted: August 23, 2014
Two lesbian mulate girls dont understand chineze guy hints and enjoy sexy time into space ship, so he end up planting seeds into deep wholes
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Recently Posted
[DGF]-Erwin_Raptor-
12.5 hrs
Posted: September 28
Este juego podría no calificar como un Metroidvania debido a que su gameplay es bastante simple y la dificultad es baja si lo comparamos con otros títulos, pues va más de la mano a la solución de acertijos dependiendo de los elementos que tienes para usar según la zona en la que te encuentres.

Eres un astrounauta que llega a marte y descubre una forma de vida basada en plantas, de las cuales puedes recoger sus semillas y sembrarlas en tierra fértil. Los controles son simples y la música acompaña de manera excelente tu travesía a través de grutas por las que ningún humano ha pasado jamás. Si eres de los que explora cada rincón de los escenarios, como en juegos Dungeon-Crawler, te verás recompensado al final cuando descubras que tienes más del 70% del juego y solo te falta afinar algunos detalles.

La historia está muy bien narrada y contiene algo de misterio. Si eres de los que gustan de obtener logros, este juego es una buena elección dada la baja dificultad de cada uno de dichos logros.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
GolovA
8.7 hrs
Posted: September 22
Solid, simple, phone-app fun.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ThePCGamer101
6.2 hrs
Posted: September 12
DISCLAIMER: This is a full review, and NOT a first impressions review like all my other reviews, if you want a better full review, then please read better reviews then mine

Waking Mars is a game developed by Tiger Style. The story is simple, but it is well written and intriguing. You explore, search, gathering, manipulating, creating, and de-constructing to create, in a more favourable way to the environmental needs

Waking Mars' gameplay is relaxing and there is hardly any interruptions. This alone makes Waking Mars not as linear as other platformer games I've played recently. You will have to travel around to re-supply your seeds, revisit some areas or just to re-balance an area if need be

Waking Mars is a really relaxing six hour platformer game that people who love realxing games without none or very little action and platformer games, then this game is the game for you

RECOMMENDED :)
Helpful? Yes No Funny
hadriman
8.5 hrs
Posted: August 21
Good surprise. I got it without experting much but it turned out to be quite nice. The puzzles aren't specialy hard and the game is not extremely long either but the story and the atmosphere of the game caught me and made feel like a Mars explorator.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Sarkoth
17.5 hrs
Posted: August 9
A brilliant little gem about playing botanist within the caves of Mars. (Technically it's not plants though.)

Remarkably well made for an indie game, syncronisation is actually very good, the story is interesting and gameplay is a good mixture of engaging while easy to learn.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
bold_briar
17.9 hrs
Posted: July 21
If you're reading this review and don't have this game, I would tell you all the reasons why you should buy it. But I can't. I'm too depressed for you. You don't have this game.

You should get this game because-

I just can't. It's too awful. I'm so sorry I can't buy this game for everyone.

EDIT: Man this is a bummer.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Banana Panarama
2.7 hrs
Posted: July 21
Not bad...Graphics aren't great but get fun if you continue playing..
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Vivisector
5.4 hrs
Posted: July 17
A really interesting take on the puzzle-platformer. Innstead of killing enemies or pushing blocks you're balancing ecosystems to progress.
Helpful? Yes No Funny