Surviving Mars: the review

Who I am
Aina Martin
Author and references

Haemimont Games is an extremely concrete studio. He has shown this on several occasions, especially with the Tropico series, which has sold millions of copies and always (or almost) found the acclaim of critics and audiences. Despite this, the Bulgarian guys hardly ended up in the spotlight, probably because they gave their best with products that were not in tune with the tastes of the masses and because until now they have relied on publishers who have not valued them sufficiently. With Surviving Mars things could finally change, especially if Paradox, their new publisher, intends to manage the product as it did with Cities: Skylines and most of its major strategy series. We did not mention the title of Colossal Order at random, because Surviving Mars is in fact a city management software, only set on Mars.

This is not a small difference, because the development team had to study a series of specific rules to give the best idea of ​​what it could mean to colonize the red planet, making it habitable. In short, don't expect to start playing and immediately start building roads and buildings. There's more to do first.

Preparing Mars for humans

As soon as the game is started we have to decide whether to dedicate ourselves to a quick game or whether to configure our colonization mission by choosing between different options. For example, we can select the commander profile to have different bonuses, choose the raw materials to take with us and the area of ​​Mars in which we will establish our colony. If desired, it is also possible to customize some secondary aspects, which have no influence on the game, such as the mission logo or the name of the rocket that will take us to the destination, but they are details. More relevant is the choice of the sponsor, who will guarantee us a certain amount of initial funds. All these decisions will result in a greater or lesser difficulty of the mission. Once on Mars, we will have to choose where to land our first rocket, paying close attention to the surrounding area.

Each selectable sector has a quadrant already discovered and others that must be scanned to discover its resources. Choosing the right landing site is important for several reasons, the main one being the proximity of resources. But let's explain better. In the early stages of each game there are no humans to manage: the planet must be prepared by automated drones that have to take care of making the area habitable, accumulating resources and making sure that water and oxygen are available when the sentient bipeds arrive. The problem with drones is that they have a limited range, tied to their control center, which can be a station, a self-propelled vehicle or a rocket itself. For this reason, landing too far from resources can make collection difficult, if not impossible. The resources belong to three macro categories: surface deposits, quarries and underground deposits, with the latter they can be exploited only with adequate technologies and with the presence of humans. In addition to the accumulation of materials, there are other things to do before humans arrive: for example, an adequate amount of electricity must be produced, through solar panels, wind turbines or various generators, and one must explore the planet, examining it. anomalies with an exploration vehicle (unlocking technologies and other bonuses).

In addition to this, it is also necessary to start scientific studies, selecting them from five different branches (biotechnology, engineering, robotics, physics and social sciences). The research carried out serves above all to make the use of available resources more efficient and to unlock new structures. Specializing or balancing knowledge is up to the player.

The settlers arrive

Settlers, who arrive aboard passenger rockets (other than cargo rockets), come into play when essential objectives have been achieved: in addition to producing water, food and oxygen, large domes must be built, within which they can live. The domes in turn must be equipped with internal structures, which guarantee survival and a dignified life for all. In addition to the housing modules, therefore, it is possible, for example, to create an infirmary, which is used to treat the sick, or a restaurant, where one can eat, or even shops of various types or embellishments such as fountains and artificial lakes. Note that the domes offer limited construction space and, as the colony develops, it becomes essential to build new ones, to have all the necessary structures to defend against the dangers of Mars, such as sandstorms, meteorites and waves of frost. In addition to building buildings on the outside and inside of the domes, Surviving Mars also offers goals to achieve.

Some are standard, such as having a certain number of settlers or accumulating a given amount of resources, while others are linked to the so-called "Mysteries", that is, the stories that are the background to the management of the colony and that produce their effects especially in the advanced stages. . Let's say that it is a way to better characterize the games in the form of special events and that, while not upsetting the basic formula, it helps to create situations that are unique, at least different.

A few final considerations

Technically Surviving Mars is in line with the standards of the genre, even if the quality of the buildings seemed slightly below that of titles like Cities: Skylines. It is true that we are talking about two completely different planets, but a few more details would not have hurt. However the graphics engine turned out to be fluid and stable even in the presence on the map of many inhabited domes and, to be honest, some of the landscapes that arise from the fusion of Martian geography with the colonies are not at all evil and are magnified by the photo mode, which allows you to indulge in capturing images. The transition from day to night is also pleasant which, in addition to causing problems in the management of the colony, makes some views even more fascinating.For the rest, immediate support to the mods is welcome, which we imagine will not be long in coming writing the review obviously there were none to try). If we want, the only real flaw of Surviving Mars is the lack of content, which manifests itself especially in the late stages of the game.

It is true that when the problems with the settlers start to arise, you end up thinking above all about how to handle the situation and you forget a little that you only have a handful of buildings available, but a greater variety, perhaps inside the domes, would not have hurt. Our guess is that, if successful, Haemimont Games will expand its game through a copious number of DLCs, as it did with the last two Tropicos. Since this is the policy adopted by Paradox itself for most of its titles, we do not believe it is a risky hypothesis. Let's just hope there are free additions too.

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • Intel Core i7-4770 processor
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 video card
  • Windows 10 operating system

Minimum requirements

  • Windows 7 64-bit or newer operating system
  • 3th generation Intel iXNUMX processor or equivalent
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • HD 4600 / Geforce 620 / Radeon 6450 video card or equivalent GPU with 1 GB of VRAM
  • 6 GB of hard disk space

Recommended Requirements

  • 5th generation Intel iXNUMX processor or equivalent
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • Geforce 750 Ti video card or equivalent GPU with 4 GB of VRAM


Digital Delivery Steam Price 39,99 €


Readers (8)


Your vote

Surviving Mars is a complex title, whose merits are undeniable, first of all the originality of the approach to the genre of city management. As mentioned in the review, it lacks a bit due to the lack of content, which in the long run can make the game repetitive. Not that it runs out immediately, but a few more buildings to build wouldn't hurt him, as well as a few more problems to deal with at the level of settler management. For the rest it is a well-studied product with remarkable touches of class, which fans of the genre should not miss, also by virtue of its conceptual freshness. If it is successful, it will surely continue to be talked about in the coming months, if not years.


  • Colonizing Mars offers interesting and new dynamics
  • Smooth and stable graphics engine
  • Support for mods since launch
  • A few more graphic details would not have hurt
  • A few more buildings wouldn't have hurt
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