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 (807 reviews) - 91% of the 807 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 (807 reviews)
Recently Posted
Arric
( 12.9 hrs on record )
Posted: May 16
A good, indie, environmental puzzle/explorer. Overall, a nice, (mostly) relaxing change of pace from blowing everything up to death and stuff.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
lewrker
( 0.3 hrs on record )
Posted: May 15
I don't think this is a game for me, very thinly-veiled excuse for uninspiring puzzle mechanics.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ColorLock
( 11.5 hrs on record )
Posted: May 1
Terrible game design where if you make some small mistakes earlier in the game, you can't finish the game and have to play the entire thing from the beginning. Uhm, why?
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Blakelocke
( 8.7 hrs on record )
Posted: April 30
Unique and fun. I look forward to seeing more from this developer
Helpful? Yes No Funny
><(((°> Tilapia Slender
( 12.5 hrs on record )
Posted: April 26
Excelent game. Found it very interesting and entertaining. Voice of ART sounds just like CL4PTR4P from Borderlands.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
brnsstnk
( 6.0 hrs on record )
Posted: April 18
Best extraterrestrial gardening sim I've ever played.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Mightyelk
( 5.7 hrs on record )
Posted: April 7
Good exploration game with decent story. Nothing more, nothing less.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ScyAnide
( 0.2 hrs on record )
Posted: March 30
Was unable to fix terrible game stuttering that seemed to build up over time.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Cyril
( 7.5 hrs on record )
Posted: March 27
This is an... okay game. It starts out pretty strong, there's a solid story throughout, the visuals are decent, the planting mechanics seem pretty interesting. For the first three chapters the game is quite linear, and the fourth (and longest chapter) opens up a little though I would never say it's that exploration-heavy, or much of a metroidvania.

But the game really starts to drag around chapter 4, with increasingly tedious work needing to be done to hit 4 and 5 level biomasses for the rooms. Thankfully there's an event that doubles the effectiveness of these right near the end, so if you hit 30 you're basically done. But it still takes a lot of work and some of the rooms can be really tedious and frustrating, the AI on the moving lifeforms is not very good.

There's also a number of glitches, stuff getting stuck in walls etc. but also game-breaking bugs that can ruin your file; thankfully I did not encounter this but I did get a kind of buggy ending the first time via skipping a large chunk of the endgame sequence by having enough core power to trigger the normal ending. It's a really weird oversight, honestly.

But yeah, this game is... solid. I've wrung about as much enjoyment out of it as I think I'll ever get though and I doubt I'll ever go back and replay it. Get it on sale, not full price.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
sylenius
( 11.2 hrs on record )
Posted: March 23
I didn't know what to expect from this game, so it really came as a surprise to have so much fun.
So, this is mostly a story-driven exploration game, with a part of action/platform which is not crucial to the game but very well done and quite enjoyable.
The real thing here is the atmosphere, especially if you like science-fiction, and I don't mean Hollywood action movies, I mean novels about space and planet exploration, science and discovering ancient civilizations. While this is not a Ray Bradbury novel, the story and voice acting are quite good, creating a very nice background for the game. Discovering and re-building the mars ecosystem is original in itself, but the developers have made it quite enjoyable too.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Nosferath
( 11.2 hrs on record )
Posted: March 16
This game really deserves being more popular. It has great soundtrack, beautiful visuals, fascinating lore, and captivating story. This is all done so well in a science-fiction fashion, it all seems very believable. If we ever find life in Mars, I'll be very disappointed of the real world if it's not like the one in this game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
razorclaw0000
( 8.7 hrs on record )
Posted: March 13
This game features a fairly unique premise, combining simulation and platforming in an entertaining exploration game. The voice acting is well done, the score beautiful, and the game play requires a reasonable amount of thought in deeper levels. Controls are excellent using a wireless Xbox 360 Controller.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
David Blast
( 13.1 hrs on record )
Posted: March 12
I really enjoyed this game. It's a nice mixture of casual gaming and mild strategy as you explore and uncover the secrets of Mars. Who knew gardening could be this much fun?

The only thing I didn't particularly like was the soundtrack.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Blatherwock
( 10.4 hrs on record )
Posted: March 8
Although it isn't a incredibly long game I really enjoyed the 10 hours of play it provided.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Emmer
( 11.3 hrs on record )
Posted: March 6
Casual and fun. Surprised they had a bit of a story going on in there, which made me want to finish the game. You basically try to get things to grow in the caves to reach a certain level of biomass. (Pretty much a puzzle sort of way of growing things). You can also explore the caves and try to research and discover hidden secrets.

Finished the game without referring to a walkthrough, so yay it's not too hard. Gets a bit repetitive towards the end, but hopefully by then you've already finished the game lol.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ShXIII
( 10.0 hrs on record )
Posted: February 26
Finished this around 6-7 hours. Pretty cool indie game, all exploration and story telling with some nice art design/music. Not much to say about this game really but the title said "Mars" and it peeked my interest, I enjoyed it.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Jet Jaguar
( 13.0 hrs on record )
Posted: February 17
its so relaxing it made me wanna be a interplanitary gardener

also: infinite jetpack

10/10
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Ariandel
( 5.5 hrs on record )
Posted: February 11
Waking Mars is a 2D platformer with gorgeous art, pretty good voice acting, and an interesting (if not-so-original) story. You play as a scientist exploring some of Mars' underground caverns when you're trapped by a cave-in. In order to escape, you must cultivate the local wildlife to reach deeper into the caves, where you encounter even more bizarre lifeforms, and uncover some of Mars' past.

The story is intriguing enough to drive you to play to the end, even though the gameplay itself gets a little grindy. All of the Mars flora and fauna are well designed and fleshed out, with your research on them helping you make your way through the various puzzles.

The game is pretty enjoyable, but $9.99 is pretty expensive for the maybe 6 hours you'll get out of it. Buy it on sale to enjoy it the most.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Pilgrimm Wildcard
( 5.6 hrs on record )
Posted: February 11
This has been quite a fine distraction. The story is heartfelt, and the aesthetics of the game is pleasing. Martian caverns make for an interesting backdrop. 7.5/10. Worth the price and beyond.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Koopa_G
( 8.7 hrs on record )
Posted: February 11
As the terrain evolves around you, so does your arsenal. You become the master of an underground living, breathing environment while discovering lost secrets of this mysterious place.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 15
I don't think this is a game for me, very thinly-veiled excuse for uninspiring puzzle mechanics.
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 180 days
13 of 13 people (100%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
11.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 11
Incredible game... for 10 hours I was on and inside Mars.

-Immersive exploration
-Unique game mechanics
-Great, thoughtful main character : Liang (& voice acting)
-Amazing soundtrack
-The more you progress, the more the ecosystem & all you discover make sense.

When I left the game, I felt I had really been on Mars.

Loved it so much.
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5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
10.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 1, 2015
Simple, relaxed game 7/10

Pros:
1. Nice atmosphere
2. Unique gameplay
3. Nice sci-fi feel overall
4. Easy and smooth controls

Cons:
1. Odd transition screens
2. Gameplay is lacking
3. Dialogue and voice acting is only ok
4. Boring soundtrack

Overall, it was an easy enough game that I found relaxing. Not a lot of depth here but that's not always needed.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
6.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 2, 2015
I had fun with this. A good puzzle game with a story and some interesting game mechanics.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
10.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 20, 2015
Great game, all around. The art took me some time to get used to. The environments get more interesting as things go. Great soundtrack, good dialogue, and really interesting mechanics to the world that are satisfying to observe and manipulate.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
12.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 2
This is a game that provides an original experience - it's about growing and sustaining an ecosystem (I don't know why it's tagged as a platformer. You can fly, so there's no platforming element whatsoever). As you explore you'll encounter a number of different plant-like creatures, each with its own behaviors and method of reproduction. You have to figure out how each plant works on your own; there's not a lot of direct explanation, and this discovery aspect is the main draw of the game. Once you've got an idea of how things work, you can decide which plants to grow where in order to revive each area of the cave.

The downside is that it's not all that well designed. The interactions between the lifeforms aren't very complicated, and growing the plants requires too much manual interaction, rather than organizing the environment so that it works on its own, like an ecosystem should. Still, it's worth checking out if you're interested in an experience that you haven't had before.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
12.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2015
Very fun 2D Metroid feeling game but with more story and modern graphics.

in Waking Mars you are seperated and must use alien plants and creatures as tools to progress and terraform the areas. while doing this you uncover the mystery of the ecosystem and how the whole biosphere works as a system. by the end of the game you have escaped and taken a bare and empty system of caverns and have turning it into a thriving living biosphere of interacing plants and creatures.

offers about 8-14 hours of gameplay to totally finish and is very enjoyable along the way.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
5.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 11
This has been quite a fine distraction. The story is heartfelt, and the aesthetics of the game is pleasing. Martian caverns make for an interesting backdrop. 7.5/10. Worth the price and beyond.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
8.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 11
As the terrain evolves around you, so does your arsenal. You become the master of an underground living, breathing environment while discovering lost secrets of this mysterious place.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 27, 2015
Very fun and amazing. Makes you think and wonder, maybe wait for sale, like 10-20%, but is pretty much worth it. I haven't finished the game, so i have no idea how long it is, but so far it is one of the best games i've ever played.

Great visuals
Great music
Side goals
little side areas to explore
collection
highly recommened
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
10.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2015
This is an excellent exploration & puzzle game. Great story line and smooth playability really make me want a sequel.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
13.0 hrs on record
Posted: February 17
its so relaxing it made me wanna be a interplanitary gardener

also: infinite jetpack

10/10
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
7.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 12
I recommend. awesome platformer.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
72 of 74 people (97%) 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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67 of 68 people (99%) found this review helpful
2 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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63 of 69 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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54 of 57 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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41 of 44 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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45 of 51 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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