The best gardening adventure set on a fictional, soil-rich Mars you’ll ever play. Probably
Waking Mars is a game we found very easy to put down. Don’t get us wrong: we loved its every extraterrestrial second, but simply leaving the game’s insanely detailed Martian ecosystem to its own devices yielded countless moments of heartbreak and hilarity. See, Waking Mars seals you in the high-tech hazard suit of a researcher, looking to put Mars under the figurative microscope generally by playing god, until multi-tendriled alien Broodmother Nature puts him back in his place. On the surface, then, the game looks like a fairly typical (though completely gorgeous) sidescroller. But in reality, it’s so much more than that.
Martian gardening adventure. That’s the quickest way to describe it. Mars’ flora, however, tends to take after the more horrifying elements of Earth’s fauna, so expect nightmarish tentacle creatures and gnarled monstrosities that cling to cavernous ceilings, practically wringing their non-existent hands and cackling maniacally in the darkness. But there’s a certain beauty to it as well. Each debatably sentient ultra herb interacts and interlocks with many others, to form a brilliant ecological tapestry.
Waking Mars also does a fantastic job of making you feel like a tiny fly, crawling around on the back of a truly majestic beast. Its winding caverns are positively massive in scale, with your jetpack botanist sometimes appearing as no more than a tiny speck on the screen. The music, meanwhile, is subdued, ambient, and even a bit mournful.
The first hour or so is fairly slow, but the cheesy characters and stilted dialog at least taper off over time. Movement, on the other hand, is something we never quite found ourselves comfortable with. It’s controlled by simply sliding your finger where you want to go, but landing precisely or catching seeds took constant readjustment.
In the grand scheme of what Waking Mars accomplishes, however, those are incredibly minor quibbles. We guarantee you won’t find an experience like this anywhere else on iOS — or on any other platform.