Unearthing Mars Review
Generally, there are two types of VR titles; experiences where you are immersed in your surroundings with very little interaction, and games which can be almost anything; rarely do we see a title that is both. Unearthing Mars combines these two elements into an interesting story with some surprisingly fun gameplay.
When Unearthing Mars first starts, it doesn't do itself any favors. You are standing in front of a large holographic map of Mars listening to two people who sound robotic talk back and forth to each other. There are a few interactions like responding to two people and spinning around the Mars map, but then the chapter ends and you're left wondering "what did I get myself into?" These reservations are rightfully felt, but if you just give Unearthing Mars a little more time you'll discover an odd but interesting game.
The second chapter puts you in the seat as a copilot aboard a spaceship that is headed for Mars. You and your commander have to work together to ensure that you land safely. If you mess up along the way, you lose something similar to health and if you do too many wrong inputs, you ultimately fail. After you safely guide your ship to Mars, the game really starts to open up.
Once you're out of your spaceship you can move around by hopping around to different designated areas. It seems like the biggest hurdle for any VR game is how to move your character without making the user feel nauseous. While I didn't feel any discomfort with Unearthing Mars, I did find the way you move to be a little odd. To move you simply aim the PlayStation Move Wand and click on one of the designated areas. The issue with this is that for some reason there is an arch added to the movement rather than just a straight line. This means to move somewhere far away you need to point the Move wand up at an angle instead of just straight ahead. It's an odd design choice and it just doesn't feel natural.
Voice acting has to be one of the hardest things to nail because it seems that so many indie games have trouble with this. I mentioned earlier that the voices between the two characters sounded robotic, but fortunately the voice acting gets progressively better as it begins to sound more natural. This definitely helps the immersion because you are no longer focused on how bad the characters sound.
The objectives in the game are pretty easy to figure out which keeps the story going. The entire experience will take you about one and a half to two hours to complete. You may run into a few parts that take some thinking, but for the most part, you won't have any issue completing the game. The best part of the game comes towards the end when you get to battle against hordes of evil aliens using a shield and a gun. This part came totally out of the blue and I wish that there was more of it, but regardless, it was an absolute blast.
Overall, Unearthing Mars is rough around the edges, but it does have its charm. The world is developed nicely and there are some interesting gameplay elements. If you feel like you've exausted all the PSVR choices then you may want to give Unearthing Mars a chance, but don't expect to be blown away.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Thank you to Winking Skywalker Entertainment for providing us with the code.