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 (707 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.


"Surprisingly thoughtful, delightfully atmospheric, smartly written, carefully 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

Mac OS X


    • 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


    • 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
44 of 50 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
15.0 hrs on record
Posted: January 22
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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22 of 26 people (85%) found this review helpful
12.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 25
Story = Interesting / pretty good
Gameplay = really good
Graphics = good (aside from cutscenes / dialoges)
Guidance = overwhelming to the point of confusion
Controls = pretty good
Voice acting = decent
Replay value = not really... once 100% completed, why bother?

Overall = Well worth the money, even at full price.

Sumary: I haven't completed a game in quite a long time... and I've never once gotten 100% achievements unlocked for any game. But this game was compelling enough for me to keep going and actually get it 100% completed. I'll admit that it got a little frustrating / confusing towards the end and I ended up resorting to some outside guidance through steam discussions in order to figure out my next move, but I'm sure I could have eventually figured it out on my own if I had that kind of patience. The 3 endings for the game (not including the optional pre-mature exiting the cave ending) really helped keep me interested in re-loading the game to see the other endings, and of course, the other endings kept getting better and better. The voice acting was a bit weird in places though. Like the 3rd ending where he goes up into space, her reaction was a little anti-climactic and didn't really feel like a realistic reaction. As far as the guidance goes... the game really tries to help you out throughout the entire game, it even gives you an interface of details for each species in the game which helps a lot, unfortunately, if you forget something task related, or make a big mistake (namely the explosive seeds when you first get them and ending related areas)... it's possible to end up being stuck in the game with no clue how to progress further since you can't get the cutscenes / dialogs to repeat, so make sure to read and listen very well the first time.

Overall, I really enjoyed the game. Highly recommended for those looking for something different than usual.
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11 of 11 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
13.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 5
Waking Mars is an exploration platformer where your primary direct game mechanics are picking up and throwing seeds. Really. And it is quite good.

Basically, life has been discovered on Mars. You are one of the astronauts who has been sent to explore said life on Mars. You make first contact with them and discover that they are these plant-like lifeforms, that produce seeds, which you can use to plant more of them. There are also, conveniently, barriers that open when you have enough of them growing.

That last bit might seem like a convenient gameplay mechanic, but it actually ties into the story. Yes, a surprisingly intriguing story follows from all this. The whole game took me about 11 hours to complete, and I can vouch that the story is interesting.

The game is an exploration-heavy metroidvania, consisting of interconnected areas to explore and grow things in. There is a certain depth of strategy to how to grow things, since different things have different biomass values, and you need to exceed a certain biomass value to proceed, or to unlock other features. Also, you can pick up some seeds, but not others, and not all terrain is suited for planting all things. And then there are more complex mysteries that lie deeper within...

Your exploration is punctuated by your contact with your fellow crew members -- one person back at base, and one AI who is a little annoying (and the other characters lampshade this). These characters are okay -- if anything, their voice acting is better than their actual scripts, which are a little redundant. That said, the characters are (needless to say) part of the plot. And there are even multiple endings.

In fact, you could actually make this game more like a silent-protagonist Metroid-like game with a strong element of the player learning game mechanics without being told -- I mean, heck, that's basically what happens anyway, except for the "I wonder how you might be able to do such-and-such" that the characters sometimes say. I strongly recommend this if this game ever gets remade.

Aside from the somewhat chatty NPCs and the occasionally irritating physics (the player-character insists on taking a moment to get his footing very often), this is an excellent game, so I definitely recommend it.
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8 of 9 people (89%) found this review helpful
11.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 17
This is a great and addictive game of exploration and experimentation.
On normal mode it's very easy as you can "fly" and have mostly to elude some dangers and catch some objects.
The development of the story and the new elements you found were a strong draw to keep me playing this.

Very, very, recommended.

The only minor flaws I found are
1. At times you have to go back to previous rooms and wait a little to collect some things but at least there is a map that make this easy.
2. Sometimes even if you are seeing something on screen and your character is clearly seeing something, you have to stand in certain spots so that your character or your companions acknowledge this and you can continue.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 26
This one really surprised me. Virtually no one on my friends list has it, and it has simplistic controls due to its mobile roots. It still manages to have interesting gameplay with decent balance with progressively increasing difficulty, but what really shocked me was the storyline. With its limited cast of Liang, Amani, and the A.R.T. emoticon robot who acts and sounds like Borderlands' Claptrap, it's managed to make me care about the two human characters. The dialogue intelligently mixes hard science with the fantasy aspects and sprinkles in just a little bit of technobabble. It's compelling to play and doesn't rely on overused gaming tropes like leveling up or endless gradual equipment power progression.

The gameplay is a mix of puzzle and platformer. It's also pretty original. There are few hazards you need to navigate and lots of places to restore your health. The challenge comes with properly filling each area with a sufficient amount of biomass, using the seeds you collect and the fertile ground around you. Though sometimes you may find yourself brute forcing a couple puzzles by herding Phyta into a corner and regularly throwing seeds at them.
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