Suck it Elon Musk, I made it to Mars first! As I wander the endless orange expanse alone, I pause to think, why is a video game set on mars and full of robots surprisingly dull?
Playing Memories of Mars, I was ready for an exciting sci fi adventure but really, games like No Man’s Sky should have prepared me for this, there’s plenty to do and a lot to explore, I just don’t want to do any of it! I think most of my issues come from the UI, like most of my MMO experiences MoM has a HUD and menu system that seems to demand you have the focus of Batman (or a copious supply of Adderall) to be able to comprehend any of it! Text upon text upon drop menus is a nightmare to sort in the early stages and a few hours in I wasn’t having much more luck, however once I did finally decide what direction I should start my march in. As a survival game I was expecting plenty of mooching about, but I don’t think I adequately prepared myself for just how boring it would become. I can understand gamers looking for some realism now and then, but I don’t think I know anyone who wants to trot across the surface of Mars, a planet with very few decent landmarks, in real time.
Still, eventually I found my way to the spot the menu gods told me to find, and I set to work digging up whatever resources I could find. As a survival game obviously, the objective is just to keep going for as long as possible, so resource stock is vital to build yourself the sickest base, costume and weapons. I was having a peaceful time throwing up a small base for myself. I was right in the middle of deciding what kind of wallpaper to have in the second guest bedroom when my assigned neighbour came in and started WRECKING MY SHIT! That’s right kids, like ARK and Rust, Memories of Mars sticks you into a survival situation with the worst of online gaming.
Most games like this fall into a similar pattern, where as most MMO’s lead to people looking out for one another and helping the weakest where possible, Survival games bring out people’s inner psychopaths. So, while I was a cute newbie digging for scraps and fashioning myself a new pistol, the scavengers watched. The second I started making real progress and cleared had a few pocketsful of precious metals, the vultures swooped in. It didn’t take long before I was dead and my, admittedly well-dressed, corpse was being pillaged for whatever space dust these interplanetary ruffians could find.
Upon my grand resurrection I decided home ownership just wasn’t for me and as my usual handle implies, I took to the nomadic life. I managed to last much longer second time around as I explored the dull but admittedly gorgeous world around me, although there is an obnoxious motion blur effect that can get almost nauseating at times especially during combat with the local robots that are marching around looking to add your limbs to their ever-growing collection. The designs of these travelling murder-bots are fun, each looking like a softer version of what can be seen in Horizon Zero Dawn. No explanation is given for why the planet is in such a state and try as I might searching for clues just seemed impossible. Unlike linear story games like Bioshock or Dishonoured I was never compelled to search the world thoroughly to find out more, my one goal was to survive, and I was doing a pretty good job of it too, until another player decided to stomp on my under armed arse with his own version of the power rangers megazord…
There’s a cool premise in Memories of Mars, and some environments that could be great fun to explore if they were just a little closer together. Unfortunately, with the great swaths of dull walking to do and a player base of purge loving scumbags, it’s impossible to really sink your teeth into that interesting story. Drop the multiplayer and you’ve got something here that could be magical, and dare I say it… out of this world? Oh, don’t worry I hate me too.