It’s your First Day at a New School. Every Night the World Ends- I’m already sold on this game.
A game-ified version of the Groundhog Day style film trope, Mars Underground allows us to play our way through what has become a popular premise in Film and TV. It couldn’t be a better time to release a choice-based, time-loop game, with the successes of Happy Death Day and Russian Doll just behind us.
For fans of Netflix’s recent innovation Bandersnatch, this might itch a certain scratch. The main character, ‘Mars’, relives his first day of school, every day. Similarly to Bandersnatch, the player will be able to explore branching stories and multiple endings based off their decisions.
Take experimental prescription drugs. Talk to a toilet. Get hit by a car. Humiliate yourself repeatedly. All in the name of figuring out what on Earth is going on.
To capitalise on another recent gaming trend, the game’s style dials the nostalgia up to 11. All this isn’t to say that the game is a lazy cash-out on what's in vogue right now. First off, it’s been in the making for over three years- so the trends thing is either a happy accident or impressive forecasting- probably the former. Secondly, and more importantly, even just from playing the Demo, you get a real sense of personality baked into the game through its sometimes dark, often silly humour and dialogue- behind the blocky aesthetic (which I totally dig) it seems to feel so human.
And how could it not be? Mars Underground has all the great hallmarks of any plucky, wholesome tale. From its humble roots as a kick-starter campaign back in 2016, to winning a place at the PAX Aus Indie Showcase last year, all with premature birth of one of the developers, Matt Sanderson's, first son somewhere in between- he wrote a blog-post about the rocky road to PAX here.
I mention in the ‘About’ section of Gaming By Proxy that I’m not much of a gamer, but get obsessed with the odd game- let me tell you now, I’m 99% sure this one will be the latest addition to that list. Despite endless looming deadlines, I plan to play it as soon as it releases next Friday, stay tuned for a feature.
In the meantime, play the demo for yourself here (in browser, no download needed), and let me know what you think below.