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Mines of Mars Review

Exploiting Earth's Neighbor
by Joe Juba on Mar 18, 2014 at 11:30 AM

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Reviewed on iOS
Also on Android
Publisher Crescent Moon Games
Developer Wickey Ware Games
Rating MM - Medium maturity

Despite the all of the research into the presence of ancient life or water on Mars, it turns out the red planet is only good for one thing in the end: methodical mineral stripping. In Mines of Mars, you delve below the world’s surface to pillage its gems and ores for your own gain. Gathering materials and crafting upgrades is fun, and the solid pacing keeps you heading back into the darkness.

As a lone miner trapped on the planet’s surface, you have a simple-but-satisfying mission. Using pickaxes, drills, jetpacks, and firearms, you create tunnels in the dirt and navigate strange caverns. You collect resources, bring them back to the surface, and use them for upgrades that make you faster and more efficient. The loop isn’t complicated, but it’s fun and accessible.

The tiny sparks of joy make it all worthwhile – like when you find a rich vein of emerald, or when you finally have enough cobalt for an upgrade you’ve been eyeing. I kept diving back below the surface time after time pursuing those rewarding moments, and I was always just a few good runs away from getting something cool. The new weapons and tools are spaced out perfectly, keeping you working just long enough to appreciate a new toy when you get it.

The exploration is entertaining, but combat is a different story. Fending off the native wildlife is a challenge thanks to the control scheme, which has you touching the left side of the screen for movement, and the right side for aiming and shooting. This layout makes sense, but it feels uncooperative and clumsy. Precision is too difficult when you’re on the move, which makes some of the boss creatures particularly difficult. The encounters aren’t enough to ruin the game, but combat adds more annoyance than fun to the experience.

Mines of Mars is a competent and addictive take on a proven formula; the atmosphere and art direction are cool, but the gameplay doesn’t do much to distinguish itself. The cycle of digging, upgrading, and more digging is familiar at every turn, but I still had fun carving out a place for myself on Mars.

Mars has various valuable resources. You mine them
Some of the forgotten caverns are strangely pretty, but mostly you’re just staring at the same tiles
The atmospheric soundtrack sells the sense of isolation in a strange place
Controls work fine for the mining, but fall apart when the pressure is on during combat
The pacing and sense of progression are well done, but don’t do anything amazing
Moderately Low

Products In This Article

Mines of Marscover

Mines of Mars

iOS, Android
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