Deliver Us Mars review: Mostly grounded

Breathtaking landscapes and environments go a long way to help salvage what's otherwise a dull story with some wonky controls.

Frontier Foundry

It wasn't that long ago that developer KeokeN Interactive reached for the stars with its debut effort, Deliver Us the Moon. After a breathtaking journey into the cosmos, the development team has returned for a follow-up that aims slightly higher. Deliver Us Mars is set in the same world, but follows a new main character with a new mission. While I can't hail the story as anything groundbreaking, I can at least say that the journey was visually stunning.

Get your a** to Mars

Exploring the surface in Deliver Us Mars

Source: Frontier Foundry

Deliver Us Mars follows rookie astronaut Kathy Johanson, who's the youngest member of an expedition team setting out for the big red planet. The team's goal is to reach the location of technologically advanced vessels called ARKs, which were taken by a rogue group.

This primary objective happens to intersect with a more personal mission for Kathy, as her father is among those who assisted the Outward faction take the ARKs. Deliver Us Mars will mix in several playable flashback scenes from Kathy's childhood, illustrating her bond with her father and further feeding into the mystery of not only his actions, but also of what exactly is happening to Earth.

While I appreciated the attempts to flesh out the main narrative with these flashbacks, they didn't really fix some of the core issues with the story. Other cast members, like Kathy's sister, Claire, felt underdeveloped or even unnecessary to the story. Over my time with Deliver Us Mars, I gradually began thinking about how much more effective the story would have been with Kathy going off on a solo expedition. With that in mind, the story was not the worst I've seen, but I did feel like it could have been better.

The big red view

Deliver Us Mars is mainly a linear narrative game with a string of puzzles and some occasional platforming. Many of these puzzles involve stringing together energy beams with the aid of Kathy's helpful droid partner, Ayla. Ayla can also be used to help get through smaller spaces and give players perspectives that they can't otherwise get with Kathy.

Where Deliver Us Mars truly shines is with its visuals. The landscapes throughout the journey are breathtaking. An early sequence that has Kathy venturing outside the team's space shuttle to deal with debris caught in the thrusters was a fairly rudimentary sequence. It was the view into deep space, the lighting, and the distant celestial objects that were almost hypnotic. If anything, the view almost distracted me, which probably wouldn't have been ideal, since Kathy had a rapidly depleting oxygen supply.

The same can be said for the surface of Mars. There were several instances in which Kathy had to utilize a pair of climbing axes to maneuver around walls and cliffs. In many cases, the camera will pan out in such a way that the gorgeous environments come into view. It was enough for me to forgive some of the wonkier controls with the axes, which led to some errant deaths.

Of course, Deliver Us Mars isn't a complete visual masterpiece. In fact, some cases go to the totally opposite end of the spectrum. Character models don't look particularly good and some faces are borderline ghastly. When I went into my first flashback scene and saw young Kathy's face, I nearly leaped out of my chair. The faces didn't get much better from there. Character animations had their own quirks, as I had a few instances where some of the other characters looked like they were running in place. It's a good thing the environments looked so good, because the rest of the game wasn't so easy to look at.

Journey into space

Deliver Us Mars is a decent narrative adventure, even with a fairly unmemorable story and some dull characters. The puzzles were simple enough and the beautiful environments were enough to make me want to keep going. Some control quirks and unpleasant character models did bog the experience down slightly, however. This game isn't bad to the point that I'd want to blast it into the sun, but it has enough quirks that it never fully reaches the stars like it should.

This review is based on a Steam digital code provided by the publisher. Deliver Us Mars is available now on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox for $29.99 USD. The game is rated T.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

Review for
Deliver Us Mars
  • Gorgeous landscapes and environments
  • Decent, albeit unmemorable story
  • Some cool puzzle ideas
  • Faces look unsightly
  • Controls are sometimes troublesome
  • Dull supporting characters
From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 14, 2023 11:15 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Deliver Us Mars review: Mostly grounded

    • reply
      February 14, 2023 11:35 AM

      I was excited for this but refunded it after 45 min of playing and some stream watching. The story seemed kinda meh and the climbing mechanic was not particularly fun. I might have been able to get past that if the character models weren't so bad. And the main characters hair flipping around like she's in a paint shaker every. single. time. the camera switched POV was what pushed me over the edge.

      Maybe the hair flipping would be fixed by a patch but the rest of the stuff is pretty core/fundamental stuff that doesn't seem like it'll change.

      Perhaps I'll pick it up on sale at some point in the future, but I was very disappointed with this after Deliver us the Moon.

      • reply
        February 14, 2023 12:27 PM

        I actually liked the climbing mechanic, even though it was a bit clunky. I found it was great with a controller and added considerable tension as you had to reliably make each move with the pick axe, but I think it would have been unbearable with a mouse. I played on PS5.

        The models were bad, especially in some lighting conditions. I thought the voice acting and story was actually pretty good and a huge step up from the shoddy novice voice acting from the first game.

        Hair FX were weird.

        • reply
          February 14, 2023 12:56 PM

          Yeah the climbing mechanic was ok for what it was but I've never really cared for climbing in any game. Even Tomb Raider. It was definitely more interesting than climbing in Tomb Raider. Just not a mechanic I was looking for in this type of game.

    • reply
      February 14, 2023 12:23 PM

      Did you feel some elements were cut?

      after Kathy finds about the weapons, she suddenly is in a rover on the icy part of mars you’ve never seen with everyone mad at her, unaware she stole the weapons. It felt very jarring.

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