by Sean Martin
reviewed on PC
SAY, SHALL WE BUILD A SPACESHIP AND EXPLORE MARS?
It’s certainly a specific question, but one that 39 Days to Mars poses the player right from the outset. In this adorable, steam-punk, local co-op adventure, you play as two Victorian inventors, Sir Albert Wickes and The Right Honourable Clarence Baxter, who spontaneously decide to take a trip to the red planet. In your ship (The HMS Fearful) you’ll solve puzzles, make repairs and brew an utterly absurd amount of tea, as the days count down towards your destination.
IT SHOULD PROBABLY WAIT TILL AFTER I’VE HAD A CUPPA.
Whether repairing the ship, or making tea, the puzzle mini-games in 39 Days to Mars are wonderfully absurd. The first trial with each puzzle (especially when repairing the ship) is to simply work out what the actual objective is. Once you do, each player must use their controlled hand, to grab and drag, to spin wheels or pull levers. Each of the mini-games feels original, whether piecing together a map to Mars, by grabbing and spinning the sections, or using a fishing rod to retrieve a key, one player controlling the line horizontally while the other controls vertically. As you work on each of these puzzles, a soothing piano track plays in the background, stopping you from getting too frustrated.
The silly and convoluted nature of the devices in the game, feels like a tongue in cheek reference to the strange, half-science machinery so often described in Victorian science fiction. But these slap-dash puzzles do complement the games happy-go-lucky tone, using humour to reflect the overall absurdity of the entire expedition.
SPACE ADVENTURE REPAIR-A-THON
As you make your way to Mars aboard the HMS Fearful, you will face a variety of trials, which will require you to go to different parts of the ship and work cooperatively to avert disaster. But when not in mortal peril, you can wander around the ship investigating devices, for which you’ll be rewarded with a snippet of dialogue. You can also just sit back and enjoy the beautiful art-style as space outside slips by. The visual style of 39 Days to Mars kind of resembles a parchment blueprint, scrawled and etched, which fits with the overall aesthetic and design of the game, as a kind of silly Victorian sci-fi, space adventure repair-a-thon. But this silliness is contrasted with the wholesome piano-based soundtrack, reminding you that, though sometimes silly, Victorian science-fiction was based upon a very real yearning and spirit of adventure.
39 Days to Mars feels very complete; a lovely little co-op adventure for you and a friend. But calling it a ‘brief’ adventure is certainly accurate, as the expedition to Mars only took me and my friend 25 minutes to complete. There’s certainly some re-playability, but for the price of the game, this doesn’t seem great value. There is nothing I want more than to wholeheartedly endorse this game, and I know the new free update is coming soon, so I really hope that more content continues to be added. 39 Days to Mars is fun, quirky and humorous, showing a surprising awareness of its source material for such a little game. If you can personally look past the price tag for an hour or so of local co-op fun and loveliness, or can see it as an investment in future content, then I would definitely recommend this game.
Fun mini-games, good awareness of source material, beautiful piano soundtrack
Quite short for the current price tag