So much of what makes The Martian a great movie is the well thought out problem solving and Mark Watney’s personality. The new iOS game channels that spirit of the movie perfectly. Rather than putting you in Watney’s shoes, ending up with a sci-fi Minecraft knock off, they put you in charge of the ground crew. You communicate with Mark via chat, helping him solve problems via choices at certain points in the story. You’ll get some help when working through problems from advisors that are specialists in different fields. For example, and engineer’s emails may have the correct information on how to reassemble something. There are also some questions that you’ll need to do your own research for, going out and searching the web for a real world fact. Though the game’s best feat is making Mark feel like a real person. It might be that I spend a lot of my day chatting with people online, but they do a good job giving him personality. It helps that your half of the conversation is limited, but it’s still great writing.
It’s an immersive way to play through what is essentialy a text adventure. There’s even some attempt to make you wait between events, the game makes you wait 30 minutes or so before Mark will return from an activity. Your enjoyment of this game is going to be dependent on how much you enjoy solving problems without a lot of action. As far as movie tie—ins go, this comes a lot closer to capturing the spirit of the movie it’s based on than most games. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that if you liked the movie you’re going to like this game. In fact, if you’ve seen the movie there’s a few in jokes for you. These sort of text games are becoming more common on the App Store. Out of all the genres that mobile could have ressurected, I wouldn’t have bet on text adventures.
What’s Good?: An excellent way to channel the spirit of the film, novel gameplay ideas. Mark’s character is well written.
What Sucks? The game is well crafted, but some choices might push away players. (i.e. Forced wait times to continue the story, outside research needed for some early puzzles.)
Buy It?: If you’re a fan of The Martian check out the iOS game. Grab it on the App Store for $2.99.