Developed and published by Shape Shop in partnership with Outersloth, Mars First Logistics is an Early Access physics-building sandbox simulator set on Mars where players take the role of remote space rover pilots. Think Human: Fall Flat but for vehicles. The main goal of the game is to help the Martians establish a new home on Mars. In this article, I’ll discuss my first impressions of the game, including its tutorial, gameplay mechanics, addictive nature, and how fun this game is both solo and co-op.
Hop Into Mars
One of the first aspects of Mars First Logistics that caught my attention was its digestible tutorial. The developers did a great job of introducing the game mechanics and guiding players through the initial stages.
Although it feels like a “walking simulator”, it’s actually challenging to drive over the procedurally-generated terrain. Also, building your own customized rover feels quite therapeutic. This physics game gives away a bit of a mental exercise for you to figure out how to deliver stuff around Mars.
I would even argue that if you want an alternative to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, specifically its contraption-building mechanic that I’ve been seeing a lot on social media, Mars First Logistics is passable in my book.
Surprisingly Addicting, Frustratingly Realistic
At first glance, Mars First Logistics may appear simple and give off the impression of a potentially boring game. You might find yourself questioning whether it’s worth your time.
But let me assure you that looks can be deceiving. Once you start exploring this Mars driving simulator, you’ll quickly become engrossed in its addictive gameplay, which kept me hooked for hours.
As you embark on your mission to build different space structures, you’ll essentially become a frustrated wannabe space engineer. The game sells that premise quite well, and I was trying all sorts of things to run a tight ship.
The Feeling of Playing Lego On Mars
Mars First Logistics offers you some default blueprints to start with if you’re not yet familiar with building vehicles. Personally, I thought I would be overwhelmed with building the rovers in general because the way they’re designed felt so realistic, and honestly, I’m not even good at building makeshift contraptions in real life.
But to my surprise, the mechanics are pretty easy to pick up and understand. I also like that the devs went the extra mile and added some paint jobs to put more personality in my vehicle creations.
The only complaint that I have is that building can get annoying if you want to create more complex vehicles. It took me a while to understand how the copy-paste mechanic works.
Say you have a long arm extender built on one side and suddenly you realized that you placed it in the wrong spot. The way to do it is you highlight the part that you want to copy, delete the part, get the copied part from the clipboard, then place it again.
One aspect that impressed me was the attention to detail in the game’s day and night cycles. The transitions between day and night on Mars create a captivating atmosphere, immersing you in the otherworldly environment. This adds an extra layer of realism despite the game’s Borderland-ish cartoony theme.
I also like the various synth-wave soundtracks that play in the background as you travel to different parts of the map. To keep you on your toes, you also need to find transmitters around the map so you can explore more of Mars.
Mars First Logistics can get dull at times especially if your next mission is far away and if you don’t know how to read topographic maps, you’ll be frustrated with the surprise humps and rocks that you’ll find along the way.
But at least the devs were able to implement fast travel for every location you discover. Mars First Logistics even has a photo mode to keep you entertained with the view of Mars. Some shots can even make great wallpapers.
Strangely Rewarding Deliveries
Complete cargo delivery quests, from picking up simple to complex items to moving from point A to B using challenging physics mechanics, while keeping you engaged and determined to overcome every obstacle in your path.
Mars First Logistics feels fulfilling especially when it comes to building your vehicle and then using your creation to deliver different objects. Every mission you finish gives you new vehicles plus money to buy spare parts. Complete a main quest and you unlock a new building.
There are also side quests available if you need that extra dough to purchase spare parts. If you want that extra challenge, you can just save all your money and make do with what parts you have.
Solo VS Co-op Experience
If you do plan on playing this solo and you’re a streamer, I’d definitely recommend playing Mars First Logistics. This is a perfect time to bond with your stream chat while figuring out how to build and move objects around.
But co-op is where the game actually shines. I had the opportunity to play Mars First Logistics with a friend, and it took our co-op efforts to a whole new level. We haven’t even progressed that far and yet we already had some funny moments.
There was one mission where we tried picking up a crate of oranges, then while we were driving to the destination, we sped up too quickly that all the oranges fell off the crate. Even in that simple task, we felt a sense of accomplishment already.
Mars First Logistics can sometimes feel like a physics-based puzzle game, where you’re constantly challenged and motivated to find the right solutions without the fear of in-game deaths.
Mars First Logistics is one of those physics gems that you cannot miss. I feel like the longer I immerse myself in Mars, the more I want to challenge my creativity on what kind of Martian rovers I can come up with.
While playing solo might make you bored and frustrated in the long run whenever you bump into difficult terrain, co-op is where this game shines. It’s a great game where your teamwork, patience, and creativity are tested in carrying out delivery missions with your space vehicles.
I look forward to some quality-of-life improvements like sharing blueprints with friends. A separate section for crafting a specific part for your rover would be nice instead of going straight to your main workspace and hope you don’t mess up.
Wishlist the game on Steam and experience the procedurally-generated world of Mars and discover the fun of delivering space supplies of different shapes and sizes.
What do you think of our first impressions of Mars First Logistics? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
This first impressions review is based on the PC Version of Mars First Logistics. The key was provided by Future Friends Games Shape Shop.