Surviving Mars released last year and was well received here at The Digital Fix, with our review awarding a very healthy 8/10 to the space colony builder for embracing it's science fiction inspirations, offering a steady learning curve and for being fun overall, but perhaps a little dry in places. A few months later and Paradox Interactive are giving players the chance to turn Mar's dusty surface into a lush land, fit for human habitation with the release of Surviving Mars: Green Planet.
With the entire purpose of this decently sized expansion being to take the dry, inhospitable planet Mars from a hellish dust storm and meteor ravaged test of human resilience to a blue skied haven for humanity, you'd be right to expect a slew of new technologies and things to research. An entirely new technology branch has been added in the form of terraforming - the technology of molding planetary ecosystems.
Things start slow, as the process of making life spring from nothing take a combination of four factors, each needing to be balanced to some extent. Firstly, you'll need to generate an atmosphere using towering carbonate processors, grinding waste rock down to fuel the process. Temperature is vital to plant life accessing liquid water, so you'll soon be doing something that would leave Greenpeace aghast on this planet but would serve Mars well - pumping out greenhouse gases with factories build specifically for the purpose.
Water is the next vital component to the life puzzle and you'll be excavating lakes of various sizes in order to provoke some evaporation and help lace the ground with life giving liquid. Assuming you've raised the planet's temperature enough to stop the water freezing solid the moment it hits the lake bed, of course. These bodies of water require huge amounts of your water supply to run and can truly test a colony's ability to get by with it's local resources.
Finally, with the other elements in place, you can begin the process of seeding the land and encouraging plant life to take root with the forestation plant, starting first with the simplest of lichen then grass, eventually being able to plant bushes and trees when temperature, water and atmosphere levels allow. Watching patches of green spring up around areas you've worked hard to supply and maintain is a definite satisfaction that swells as you reap the benefits of your work and watch it spread.
As you reach certain thresholds in the various terraforming criteria, the dangerous aspects of life on Mars diminish. As temperature rises, cold snaps happen less frequently and then stop. Atmosphere eats up incoming meteor strikes and the ground eventually becomes firm enough that dust storms fall away. As you continue to work and expand the green areas around your colony, you'll be able to build farms in your domes to both feed your population and provide vital seeds for further expansion. When conditions outside are right and a blue sky hangs over the planet, you can even begin to grow these crops in the open air, though they remain tended to by your automated drones rather than the populace itself.
Then, when you've managed to create a swell of lush land and gotten your various terraforming traits to a high level, the moment you've worked for comes and the option to open the domes of your colony is offered, albeit with the warning that should disaster strike you may well find yourself regretting the choice. Colonists can at long last wander beyond the confines of the domes and life on Mars takes a step toward becoming a true home for humanity. In adding this content, Surviving Mars too takes a step from being a fun, strategic base building game to being a more complete and complex game and glimpse into a potential future for humanity.
- Green Planet PC
- Xbox One - Full Game
- PS4 - Full Game
- PC - Full Game