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    dkirschner's Waking Mars (PC)

    [July 29, 2013 04:58:37 AM]
    Two more entries to add today since I spent most of the weekend sitting on the couch playing what I could on Steam's big picture on my TV before I have to sell it. Saturday I played Waking Mars. It was in a Humble Bundle some time ago and I'd never heard of it, so I didn't feel any attachment to it. BUT, very cool game.

    Premise: You're exploring a giant cave system underneath Mars. You find plant life and water. You research said plant life and figure out how each species of plant grows, reproduces, dies, eats and various other information. Basically you figure out the entire ecosystem that exists beneath Mars and you utilize it to go deeper into the cave system. Each part of the cave is bounded by a particular type of plant that acts as a seal. To get out of each part of the cave, you have to raise the 'biomass' level high enough by planting plants such that the seal breaks. Different types of plants, planted in various soil types, have different levels of biomass, and do different things. It's too much to list and explain, and it is complicated without being convoluted.

    I think the genius of the game is that the ecosystems are so balanced. Every plant provides something and limits something. I forget the names of them exactly, but for example, if you plant a water plan, then you get 3 water plant seeds (very useful) but only 10 biomass (not a lot). If you plant a fire plant (they aren't all 'elemental' by the way), you get 40 biomass (a lot) and 3 fire seeds (useful for destroying plants and walls) but it will shoot fire seeds at other plants and destroy them until you collect your 3 seeds. Everything is a trade off.

    When you're trying to reach those critical biomass levels to open the seals, and then to raise each room to biomass level 5, negotiating the tradeoffs of planting is critical. In the end you do have to raise most of the rooms' biomasses to level 5 (out of 5), setting up ecosystems to function in equilibrium and sometimes to specialize in producing certain types of seeds for you to go back and collect later on.

    This final phase of the game, going back to increase the biomass of all the rooms, becomes tedious. I recommend playing until you hit this point, and then stopping. At some point you realize you've learned all the tricks, can raise any room's biomass to level 5 without much problem, and are just doing the same thing over and over on a larger scale. I didn't finish because I was getting really bored going back and forth to rooms I'd already been to, collecting seeds, going back to where I was raising biomass, planting the seeds, going back and collecting seeds, blah blah. Also there is one particular type of plant with seeds that float up in the air that you have to sort of guide around by flying into them. Those seeds become really really annoying, but the plants that spawn them are worth the most biomass, so you kind of have to spend inordinate amounts of frustrating time trying to guide floating seeds around.

    There is also a story here. You're following the previous expedition's robot, which was rooting around in the caves previously. You eventually come to realize that there is sentient life somewhere down there and that's what you chase through the caves, the knowledge of life.
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    dkirschner's Waking Mars (PC)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got Bored

    GameLog started on: Saturday 27 July, 2013

    GameLog closed on: Saturday 27 July, 2013

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Pretty damn cool. Explore Martian caves and discover and utilize their ecosystems to progress deeper. --------- PLaying with ecosystems is fun, those floaty seeds are annoying, game gets grindy. Wish I didn't have to quit, but I do.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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