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 (721 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
16 of 16 people (100%) found this review helpful
23.4 hrs on record
Posted: July 19
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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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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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
7.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 24
Completed in 7h, normal ending, 93.9% completion, 13800 biomass, normal ending.

Excellent exploration scifi title, quick travel to previous locations mean you don't get backtracking blues, VO is good as is the writing, really to have it explore another world via its vegetation.

It does NOT have the classic metroidvania trope of blocking off access to areas before you get upgrades, but you will get new possibilities when you come across new plants and seeds. Neat. Plus: unlimited jetpack. Come on :)

Really recommended, loved it.
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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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