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 (673 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
31 of 34 people (91%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
17.2 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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8 of 8 people (100%) 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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5 of 5 people (100%) 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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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
13.2 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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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
10.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 12, 2014
Though not action packed, this game kind of grew on me the deeper I decended into the cave systems and discovered more flora and fauna.
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
9.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 28, 2014
Waking Mars is revolutionary. If I had to give it a genre, I would call it a Dynamic Puzzle Exploration Game. It is a 2D Platformer game with a very user-friendly item management system. It has definite influences from classic Nintendo games, combining the elements of exploration, isolation and atmosphere of Metroid with growing plants and food/nutrient management of Pikmin. Anyone who enjoys either of these should take a look at this game. Anyone who likes both (like myself) will probably sit down and play the entire game in one sitting. It is a rather short game, lasting anywhere from 5-12 hours, depending on how thorough you want to be. The 17 Steam Achievements are all very easy to get on your first playthrough if you give it effort.

SYNOPSIS: The basic premise of the game is this: you are an astronaut exploring a recently-discovered cave system on Mars. The only other characters are the Mars HQ woman and your environmental suit AI.

ZOA: As you enter the cave system, you discover living plant-like creatures, termed "Zoa" by your AI. These Zoa grow from different types of seeds planted in patches of fertile soil within the caves. You can carry a number of each type of seed at a time, saving them for later use.

RESEARCH: As you interact with the environment, your AI develops a research log. Once you have discovered all of the elements of a certain subject, you unlock a Steam achievement for that subject. Some of the elements are fairly straight-forward; others will take some serious thinking or random luck.

BIOMASS: Each Zoa in a chamber contributes to a Biomass counter. Once different levels of Biomass are reached, certain events occur. Some include barriers opening to new parts of the map, certain Zoa waking out of dormancy, etc.

SOUNDTRACK: The soundtrack is very ambient in nature and has an organic feel to it. It completes the atmospheric sense that the game presents well and does not distract from the action whatsoever.

ART: This game does not have your run-of-the-mill shooter 3D render graphics, as it is only a platformer. That doesn't mean that it has the pixelated style that has been popularized of late. Waking Mars has beautifully drawn background layers that fade in and out, giving the illusion of real depth. The art team did an impressive job with very original plant-form creature design. It is a bit on the minimalist side and gives a very realistic, tangible feel to alien Mars.

CONS: The only real downside to this game is the protagonist's personality. The AI is bright, happy and humorous. The HQ woman is funny at moments and believable the rest of the time. The main character is cold and sounds like he's talking in a combination of dictionary-speak and Medieval English. It is very awkward compared to the natural characters he talks to. This only really gets on your nerves during cutscenes, which you can skip (right mouse button).

I picked this game up on sale, but after playing it I'd say it's definitely worth the inexpensive standard price.

Final Score: 10/10
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2 of 2 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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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 3
I haven't exactly finished this game yet, but it is so beautiful I couldn't help but write a review. The artwork is really original, the controls are fluid and atisfying, the gameplay is intuitive with some quirky dialogue thrown in and there's a lovely sub-section of research information to read and learn about this bizarre planet we thought we knew so well.

Waking Mars has a deep (you're traversing through caves) exploration asepct to it, there's no combat from what I've experinced so far, there's a lot of planting seeds and throwing stuff at random objects, and watching things grow and collecting water droplets and avoiding some weird acidic droplets or long protruding arm thingies that hurt. It looks very simple, it even plays very simply but it is still challenging enough, but not to the point where you need to stop and collect your thoughts, it's the type of game where you just keep going and eventually you (usually by accident) figure out where you're going and what you're doing.

The soundtrack is blissful, as I mentioned above, the artwork is glorious to look at and I find myself taking many screenies because every cave has its own distinct beauty that I want to capture. Overall it is just plain fun, it is relaxing and easy to sink time into.

P.S. Thank you to my good friend for buying me this game. :3 I love it so much!
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
10.4 hrs on record
Posted: December 16, 2014
This is simply a beautifully crafted indie game. It invokes a real sense of exploration, discovery and wonder. I really enjoyed playing this game. If you ever find yourself watching wildlife you will find this game really immersive and enjoyable.

You could call it a 2d puzzle game, but that is just not doing it any justice. It uses simple 2d graphics to portray the martian landscape to really good effect. Before I played the game I thought the graphics were too basic, but somehow when actually playing the game I found the art beautiful.

You land on Mars and have to explore, observe, experiment and learn how the martian ecosystem works. You can then manipulate the ecosystem to progress deeper into the cave system to discover yet more organisms and more complex interactions. It may sound daunting, but it is a very gradual path of discovery that is both addictive and rewarding.

As well as the well designed graphics, physics, organisisms and their interactions, it also has a good story, multiple endings and great voice acting. It is just the right length, not padded or bloated. It is just a really sharp polished product.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 19
I was expecting some sort of standard platformer set on an alien landscape. What I got was an incredibly addictive puzzler based around developing an ecosystem. I quickly became hooked. It is short but definitely worth the price tag. It reminds me a lof of The Dig as it pertains to overall style. The whole atmosphere is one of mystery and wonder.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
9.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 19
Very interesting story and dialog made you get involved the fantasy Mars world well. Highly recommended to those love puzzle, adventure and exploration.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 22
Fun, fun, fun, how addictive is this. Great mental puzzle with cool plants. The dialogue between characters is a little weak but sat down for 5 hours straight the first time playing. Not too hard, but challenges you nonetheless.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
10.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 13
To tell the truth, I was not expecting such a good game when I've bought it. I mean, I love sci-fi games and everything, but Waking Mars appeared to be "just" a good port of a overall enjoyable game.

I was wrong.
I won't pretend to be talking about a masterpiece, but I played this game to its very end, trying to beat everything out of it, digging for every little secret inside the story plot, and having fun completing all the secondary missions and minigames.
It's funny, its implications are reeeally interesting, and the experience i've got playing this game is .... well.. 108.6% satisfying :D

You love sci-fi games? You'll love Waking Mars either.
But even if you are searching for something good and reasonably short to play, this is a great choice to make.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: April 3
Exploring caves and new lifeforms on Mars.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
13.7 hrs on record
Posted: March 28
A fun adventure puzzle game. I really enjoyed it, and the mystery of what's going on in Mars kept me going till the end.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
11.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 29
This is a nice little game with more focus on exploration than "combat" compared to most other games in the genre.
The way you progress by growing plants is a cool, original touch. Just be aware that if you want to 100% the game, the last third or so of the game does get a bit annoying with the need to farm for materials.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
10.7 hrs on record
Posted: March 30
i first played this game on mobile. When i saw it on steam i added it to my collection. So don't bother to look at my playing time while reading this. I finished the game several times.

There are some games around which chains you inside it with its stroyline. There are some other games which gives you fun while playing it. I get both from this game.

I feel very excited when i play the game becouse of its storyline. You discover lifeforms, do some sort of science with them and re construct the ancient life on mars which is in dormant state. It has some alternate ends too. I wish it had lasted some more hours. I don't mean game is too short but i wanted to be in the storyline more and more and more. Looking forward to see Waking Mars II (Please plan to do it :P)

Its god damn fun to re create the echosystems. I want so see more biology releated games around. People learn how important and fragile is the nature with such games.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
16.3 hrs on record
Posted: March 20
A great game! Excellent gameplay and graphics. The story makes you want to find out more, and the characters are cool. Only the end is a bit abrupt. I would love to have an ending sequence with the characters reflecting what happened.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.3 hrs on record
Posted: March 25
A seminal experience that fundamentally changed the way I think about game design.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 21
It's a martian gardening sim! WIth a really amazingly great plot!
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