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: Very Positive (561 reviews)
Release Date: Dec 13, 2012

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Recommended By Curators

"It's Metroid with a different set of questions for the player to answer: ‘How will this plant react to these conditions and to this creature?’"
Read the full review here.

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

Steam Greenlight

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
Helpful customer reviews
18 of 18 people (100%) found this review helpful
13.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 31
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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17 of 21 people (81%) found this review helpful
12.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 27
Fun puzzler! Gets a bit dark which helps drive the need to explore and make it to the end. The explinations are fun and working through a room can sometimes be challenging if you don't think enough ahead. Enjoyed it.
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8 of 8 people (100%) found this review helpful
13.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 21
This was a really nice chill game. I got about 12 hours gameplay out of it. Definitely would recommend, especially if you like ecology, space, science, or just exploring worlds.

The gameplay is really nice and organic. I love how unstructured it was, often having many or even infinite solutions to any problem
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5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 20
A sci-fi indie game, no real enemies, except for environment hazards. Basically, you plant stuff until the requirement is reached to cross to the next area. If you are looking for a non-violent game, with once in a while side missions, then this is the game for you.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
9.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 26
I'd recommend Waking Mars based on a score of 7/10. Story was interesting and funny. Voice acting well done. Animations and graphics were good.

However, Waking Mars was lacking in something fundamental when I think of Metroidvania games. Maybe gaming skill or perhaps something more basic like keeping player engaged. You go through the process of planting seeds, deciding which plants to grow--which you are scored per area based on your choices--exploring, and collecting seeds. It's slow moving, and collecting seeds can be time consuming--even warping back to old areas, just to collect seeds for new areas, sometimes more than once per area.

Watching plants through their animations can be slow growing. I suppose if you want all the achievements, be careful 5 staring each level, then moving on. You might actually miss something.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 16
cool explorationand/research game. fly around in your jet pack and explore the underground caves of mars. watch out for dripping acid. screwing around with the alien plant life is very satisfying.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
12.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 4
I've never played anything like Waking Mars. It's a puzzle game based on manipulating an alien ecosystem. Sometimes you need to find a way to get the plants to reproduce. Sometimes you need to plant a particular combination of plants. Sometimes you need to do something in particular with the plants (e.g. herd a mobile plant into a carnivorous plant).

If you die you will lose your progress since you entered the room. If you keep at it you will eventually succeed.

The depiction of science is pretty accurate. You will need to pay attention to what happens around you, read research, and experiment. You will frequently learn things by accident.

The only complaint I have is the game is mildly grindy in places. Sometimes raising the biomass in a room sufficiently takes doing something repeatedly, for 10 to 15 minutes, rather than just figuring out what to do. The key to minimizing the frustration with these rooms is usually feeding seeds to the mobile plants while standing next to a plant that produces seeds. Each time a seed is eaten the seed-producing plant will release another, so this makes the process pretty fast.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: July 19
This is a fun little adventure quasi puzzle game about finding life in the caverns underneath Mars. The biggest thing that caught me off guard was I didn't watch videos and tought this would kind be sandbox builder game on Mars with a story, so I was surprised but this game is still neat in its own rights.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
16.4 hrs on record
Posted: August 31
If you are looking for something different and enjoyable I recommend buying this game. This is a pretty short game but the content will leave you satisfied. Also you can unlock all of the achievements in about 15 hours :)
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: July 14
It's a platformer with a jetpack, there's nothing better I could say to tell you it's great. Bonus: later game includes explosions.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
10.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 13
The only Single-player game that I want to play again!
9/10 - Very atmospheric, with nice graphics and easy controls. Deffinatly worth full price!
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
11.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 9
Amazing atmosphere and slow buildup of action makes this a great game for any age. The story is spotty at times, but thorough exploration usually leads to the correct path.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: August 11
THE VERDICT:

Original (puzzle)platformer with solid gameplay mechanics and deep atmosphere that will keep you playing until the end.

Rating: 8/10

I actually finised this game on my Android phone. I would recommend to everyone to do the same, because even if its mouse&keyboard controls are very smooth, the game was originaly developed for iOS and thus is really touch-friendly. Also, you won't find many mobile games that are actually better then this immersive hard sci-fi alien ecosystem simulator. You will just need some high-end device, because Android version of this game is quite demanding (not surprisingly, when you have about 100 plants and 1000 seeds in one room, all twitching, growing, blooming and withering simultaneosly).

Waking Mars has nice stylish graphics, very good ambient music and interesting story about exploring ancient caves full of strange plant-like alien life beneath Martian surface. These three aspects help create great atmosphere that culminates with multiple possible endings.

I wasn't captivated by the game at first - gameplay was simple and I was tossed in the middle of the game without proper backstory. But after a short while I wanted to descend deeper and deeper into the very bottom of the complex martian cave system, find out what happened with the first probe that was sent into the caves, discover new alien life forms and discover more about the origin of these strange organisms.

As you descend deeper into the caves, the gameplay aspect of the game evolves even more than the story. Some reviews suggest that Waking Mars is something like gardening simulator. First of all, Zoa (the alien life form) are not plants :-). Also, as I already said, this game is more a complex ecosystem simulator: each newly discovered life form interacts in different ways with the ones you are already familiar with or with the environment and to be able to progress in the game (which is quite easy at the beginning) you often have to plan ahead, return to previous caves for new seeds or even make seeding grounds that will provide enough seeds for your further progress. One thing that's similiar to actual gardening is getting rid of the "weeds" - special type of Zoa that can spread throughout whole caves and bar you from continuing downward. On the other hand even these "weeds" can be sometimes useful or help you if you use them with care.

The game is not that long (it's quite long for a mobile game, though) but if you want to see the most interesting ending you have to grow the greatest possible amount of bioforms in majority of the caves. Sometimes, that is not the easiest task and can keep you entertained for few additional hours.

On top of this you get an AI companion that is a bit lacking in his conversational skills (adding a layer of humour into the game):
"Is there a passage back to the Outpost accessible from here?"
"Yes, accessible to air particles. A human is too large."
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
9.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 7
Beautiful little causal game, the dialogues are interesting and it was just enough difficult, I will keep a great memory of this game!
Also thanks to the developer for helping people in the forum.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
12.9 hrs on record
Posted: September 30
The feeling of isolation and discovering life in a new planet is so unique! Throw your money their way, you'll be glad you did.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 4
Waking Mars is a nice change of pace from the 2D sidescroller where you kill everything. Instead, this game tasks you with growing and cultivating all matter of plants as you traverse the caverns of everyone's favorite red world. The controls are responsive and simple, though the jetpack can be a little slippery if you're trying to push things in midair or corral creatures.

The visuals are a mixed bag. The environments are gorgeous, evoking an artistic, arts 'n' crafts style, and the talking heads during dialog are detailed and realistic. The flora and fauna you encounter, however, feel a bit stiff and oddly-detailed, especially your character. They all end up looking like the product of a Flash game. Minor gripes, really.

A bigger gripe has to be the dialogue. It's pretty well-packed with information and delivered very well, but not an ounce of it is interesting to listen to, and you'll end up skipping the long cutscenes. Your AI companion's attempt at comic relief is passable at best.

Thankfully, the game makes up for the poor writing with some deep albeit repetitive gameplay. Introducing flora and fauna to the red planet is a balancing act; if you're not careful, you can find an area completely taken over by one kind of species, especially when you add different kinds of plants to the mix. Once you get a few hours in and have discovered almost every type of plant, the game falls into a bit of repetition as you wander around trying to find an ending.

The plot itself isn't too special, but the magic of this game is all in the setting. I am a lone man wandering the caves of an alien planet, spreading life wherever I go. There's no real sense of conflict or danger in the game, but the element of discovery and the research mechanic add a great deal of immersion and a sense of wonder about the whole thing.

If you want a "puzzle" platformer that will last you a weekend, Waking Mars is a fun expedition, and I had a good time with it, despite the so-so writing and inconsistent visual style.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
12.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 6
I don't know if I could recommend "Waking Mars" more highly. It's a thoughtful sci-fi game, sincere but not overly serious or melodramatic, a story about scientists on Mars studying recently discovered flora deep underground. And by "scientists" I mean actual scientists - intelligent characters who don't do or say stupid things for the sake of the plot or seek out danger just for the sake of action. In fact, there isn't really much in the way of action in the game at all. There are hazards, but no enemies; challanges, but no crises. Just fully-realized people seeking knowledge and exploration.

Pros: Well acted
Nicely animated, fully realized world
Scientifically plausible
Evocative, but never intrusive, soundtrack
Thoughtful story grounded in reality
Spirit of discovery and exploration

Cons: Not a 4A game, so no big cut scenes or dramatic action

Pro/Con: Serious, intelligent game not for the thrill-seekers among us.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
10.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 31
One of the most beautiful depictions of Mars i have seen in a game. Bulk is exploration, puzzle and planting Martian "plant" life.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
12.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 3
Highly intriguing concept, with a very engaging narrative and characters. Difficult to describe the gameplay without spoilers, but there's no 'killing stuff'; rather, you 'grow' different things (some of which have the capacity to do you damage, so while dying etc. isn't a focal point you do have to be wary of taking too many hits) to progress within the game. Would definitely recommend.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
7.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 17
What a delightful little game! Being a mobile port, I was ready to dismiss it right away, but after the first session I totally changed my opinion. It's actually a really great Harvest Moon-lite, without any combat, just pure exploration. I would describe it as a garden'em up: you have to create your own little garden and uncover the completely telegraphed secret of the cave. It's soothing and relaxing to wander around the alien flora.
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