Mars From Spiders: Mars War Logs Out Now

By Nathan Grayson on April 27th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

But where were the spiderrrrrrrrrrrrrs

Yes, that’s an attempt at a David Bowie reference couched in, like, five other references. Because Mars War Logs comes from a company called Spiders, you see, and Bowie’s band was called… and then I switched around the stuff to mean… and anyway. My job is really hard sometimes, everyone. But yes, Mars from the videogame studio Spiders (which I can neither confirm nor deny is from Mars) is out! It looks kinda like Mass Effect meets RAGE meets Chronicles of Riddick, which is quite a seductively sandy cocktail, if you ask me. But, at the same time, Cyanide and Spiders (truly, a winning combination) haven’t had the strongest track record in the past. Hmmm. Perhaps the launch trailer after the break will knock some of the cobwebs off my purchasing finger?

Of course it didn’t! That looked nice and all, but it was also entirely in-game cinematics. And so I remain intrigued, but decidedly indecisive. For those wondering what those scenes of people gazing wistfully and fleeing from monstrous MARS WAR CRABS were all about, here’s some background:

“Mars War Logs takes you to Mars, nearly a century after a huge cataclysm that threw Mars and its colonies into chaos. You play as Roy, a renegade caught in the middle of a civil war, while different corporations fight over the most precious resource, water.”

“Follow an immense main quest in which every choice counts, develop your character and your combat style by choosing among many different talents and skills. In dynamic, real-time combat, face fearsome opponents including some of the most terrifying creatures of Mars.”

So it’s a sci-fi role-playing game. Given the setting and seemingly solid production values, I have high hopes, but Spiders’ previous work (primarily Of Orcs And Men) has displayed admirable ambition hamstrung by sub-50-gazillion-dollar budgets.

It’s on Steam right now for a mere $19.99, suggesting it’s maybe not the next Chronicles Of Rage: The Riddick Effect after all. But maybe ┬áit’ll end up even more of a gem for that exact reason? We’ll have a go at it soon, but until then, what’s the consensus on this one?

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62 Comments »

  1. omicron1 says:

    Mars Effect, anyone?

    No?
    Darn.

    Well, I have a soft spot for low-budget RPGs. I’ll probably play this at some point.

    • gusdoom says:

      Looks more like The Witcher to me.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      I’ve bought it morning, and played all day.

      It’s an RPG from 2005 / with all the good and bad. To me, the interaction with the world feels identically to Kotors.

      Combat is more like a poor attempt at Batman or Sleeping Dogs, – and although it’s not fluid nor organic, it’s manageable and victories are often quite satisfying – because enemies are not very easy.

      Story is – so far – a surprisingly immersive anti-epic , you’re a guy planning an escape from prison…. nothing more (yet) no noble goal, no world to save, just a dirty POW camp escape. (remotely reminiscent of King Rat novel)

      You can choose to be good or a bastard.

      I like it. I’d recommend it to anyone when it’s on sale.

      • Scelous says:

        Thanks for your thoughts. I’ve been trying to see what people think, and opinions are currently sparse.

        As for when it’s on sale, 20 dollars is already pretty cheap.

        • Ultra Superior says:

          Well, yes… if you think you’d like it based on the trailer and screenshots, then you probably will.

          There is one MAJOR flaw: a terrible, terrible FOV. I hope there’ll be a patch for this soon.

        • Ultra Superior says:

          Well, yes… if you think you’d like it based on the trailer and screenshots, then you probably will.

          There is one MAJOR flaw: a terrible, terrible FOV. I hope there’ll be a patch for this soon.

          What I’d praise is: an entertaining and comprehensible Crafting system + very rewarding skill tree – there’s a galore of skills, reasonably frequent level ups and each skill has a visible impact.

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      AlwaysRight says:

      Urrrgghh..

    • xBISHOPx says:

      I can’t sigh and roll my eyes hard enough. That alone has ruined my interest in this game. Referencing a game- No. Its so much worse than that, a meme, that died off a while ago just to try and get a laugh is like watching your parents just finding out about and spamming their friends and family with that gangnam style video. Some things should just stay dead.

    • The Random One says:

      That was as painful as having a sharp, large projectile stuck on a fragile joint.

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      RedViv says:

      Oh my god, JC. The joke bombed!

    • jwfiore says:

      What a shame.

  2. Paul says:

    The general consensus from scouring the forums is that for a price (16 bucks at GMG) it is a great midbudget RPG with some wonky voice acting a few unpolished pieces.
    I am quite considering buying it, having rewatched classic Total Recall few days ago and having a hankering to scour Mars myself.

    • MattM says:

      Low launch price doesn’t really make much of a difference to me. Great high-budget games from the last few years are already available for $5 and my gaming dollar budget is much greater than my gaming time budget.

  3. gschmidl says:

    The people who’ve played it further than I have are describing it as “Witcher 2 on Mars”. It certainly has that feel with the skill trees and crafting and arcade-y combat. For a $20 ($16 with GMG coupon) game I feel it’s a steal, even after only an hour in (and watching a good chunk of someone else streaming later parts).

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    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Move over Hercules, there’s a new mighty hero in town and his name is “Roy”.

  5. FakeAssName says:

    dude, whining about how the cinematic trailer is only cinematics is kind of pointless when the end of the video has got a link to a combat trailer with in game footage in it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c3WeyCra4A&feature=iv&annotation_id=annotation_652825

    not that the combat trailer is all that much more glamorous, since the actual gameplay looks kind of choppy and basic, but still; why whine about something superficial when you can link to another video that is full of substantial issues worth whine about?

  6. Iskariot says:

    I am interested, but I want to see some reviews before I commit.

  7. TheIronSky says:

    Well, the Deus Ex: Human Revolution trailer was all cinematics, and that game ended up being rather spectacular. Still, I guess I’ll wait for the WIT.

  8. kud13 says:

    curious, but waiting for a Wot I think.
    the “Witcher on Mars” descriptions and vibes are a good thing. Then again, Cyanide/Spiders have been seemingly aiming for that type of thing ever since that AGoT game, so… third time’s a charm?

    • Metalhead9806 says:

      Am I the only one that likes Cyanide games? Game of Thrones, Blood Bowl, Confrontation, Of Orcs and Men and Now Mars War logs… Seriously their games are a bit Janky but I have had some good times with them.

      Not the greatest games, i personally would never give any of thier games a review score over a 7 but still fun games.

      • Drayk says:

        It’s second on steam sales… I guess we’re not the only ones liking those games.

        Played 20 minutes, so far it’s interesting even if a little rough on the edges.

      • Scelous says:

        Yeah, you are.

      • Superpat says:

        Might just be the setting, but I enjoyed their AGOT rpg

      • Grey Poupon says:

        I’ve really liked Blood Bowl. Sure they took a while to fix the bugs, but so does pretty much every studio. I still find it a great replica of the TT version. The real-time version is horrible though.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Unless I’m missing something here, a.) Cyanide doesn’t have anything to do with this game and b.) the only Cyanide game that Spiders helped on was Of Orcs And Men

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    Faldrath says:

    After reading the first paragraph, the alt-text made me laugh. Well done!

  10. Drayk says:

    Oh well,

    I have tons of games already in my backlog but I really like what Cyanide/Spiders tries to do (even if then often fail)… For once I’ll go with my guts…

    There I just bought it.

    • BTAxis says:

      If you have a backlog of games, I seriously suggest you review your attitude toward gaming.

      • Drayk says:

        Excellent suggestion. I already am. But I am not there yet. Sometimes I just want to support a developper, Sometimes it’s too good a bargain. But yeah… I should start by completing my list.

  11. Sardukar says:

    Bought as well. Apparently ten or so hours of gameplay? Guess I’ll find out.

  12. The_Hunter says:

    I played it for two hours last night. It’s a mediocre action rpg with some of the worst writing and voice acting I’ve encountered in a while. Obviously English is not the first language of the devs…and that’s fine but geez, hire a translator or something.

    The graphics are alright but the game feels very static.

    One of the biggest issues I have is that this game is marketed as Cyberpunk…not by a long shot. Dead Space is more Cyberpunk than this game…which really just feels like Mad Max prison on Mars.

    I would not recommend purchasing this game.

  13. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    Hello Nathan.

  14. maximiZe says:

    This game’s voice acting (which was to be expected, I guess), writing and general narrative are atrocious. Worst RPG script I’ve seen in years, gameplay-wise it’s basically a poor man’s Witcher, but plays reasonably well. Wouldn’t recommend though, a friendly price doesn’t make a subpar game good.

  15. Scabmastah says:

    This game is fun for a few hours at most but it gets old very quickly. After you’re done with the prison you start to realize you’re just doing the same thing over and over and over again, you also notice how terrible the level design is and how much time you spend sprinting between places. Also the respawning enemies was a really terrible design choice.

  16. fivesixpickupsticks says:

  17. RiptoR says:

    I’ve heard you can’t remap the controls. Can anyone here who bought the game confirm this?

  18. NothingFunny says:

    Definitely interesting. And I’d rather play an RPG(ish) with flaws than another polished hi-budget linear rollercoaster

  19. GreatGreyBeast says:

    On an unrelated note, would it be possible to filter the RPS section of the Outbrain thingy to not show articles past a certain age? I just got all excited that Valve teased new Episode 3 info …. five years ago.

  20. Shadowcat says:

    Gettin’ Ziggy Wit It (mar mar mar mar mar mars)

  21. SpectralThundr says:

    After watching the trailer showing off the amount of choice in this game, from dialog, to customization in armor, I’m willing to support them. Sure it isn’t Bioware type production values. But any developer willing to offer lots of choice in an RPG deserves support. Especially a company I’ve never heard of. Who’s Spiders?

  22. TormDK says:

    I bought it on Friday (We had a public holiday here in Denmark), and was able to get through it last evening.

    Steam says I’ve spent 11 hours.

    Verdict : Worth the money IMO (Purchased it on Steam for 20 euro, but YMMV)

    I’m a lore’o'holic, so I would have liked more information about the background which the game doesn’t really get much into, as well as further information on why Roy ditched his Virtue name but the game itself (I played it on Hard, as I figured I would only play it once) seems solid enough.

    The equipment upgrade system is in place similar to what we saw on “Of Orcs and Men”, while the talent system works as expected.

    So I hope Spider gets the success they need to build further on this setting, as I’d like to know more in future games :)

  23. gruia says:

    THe skill tree and inventory are superior to Of Orcs and Men, the combat is not. (as you don’t have much of a party)

    The writing is worse than Of Orcs and Men, as well as the voice acting.

    THe lipsync is worse as well .. but those were orcs

    The sound is equally awesome.

    The level design is worse, but considering the resourses its to be expected.

    Overall its worth the money. Spiders is one of the best studios imo at the moment. They know how to make great RPGs, just haven’t had the resources to go all out and make a great one.

    Hope theyll come to Kickstarter soon

    • maximiZe says:

      Horrible writing is hardly excused by lack of resources.

      • GreatGreyBeast says:

        Yeah, it kinda is. The act of writing itself is cheap, but hiring people who are good at it is not. Small teams don’t have the budget for froofy things like that – they need everybody to be producing tangible content. Now, sometimes a small team has somebody among them who’s a brilliant writer, and that’s always great, but it’s really just luck.

        • maximiZe says:

          You’ve explained that well, but it’s still not excused. If you don’t have good writers don’t make a narration-heavy RPG or be judged accordingly.

  24. Eight Rooks says:

    It pretty much is a low-budget throwback in the best and worse sense of the term, yes. It’s a copy-and-pasted world with identical low-poly NPCs standing around soundlessly moving their lips and waving their hands at nothing, where every location is devoid of anything to do bar a story beat, a sidequest, treasure hunting or another fight. The voice acting is mostly mediocre to hysterically awful. It’s the translation that’s at fault as much as the writing, I think. More so in places. It’s not Pathologic levels of garble but there have been times I’ve struggled to work out what the hell someone was trying to say.

    At the same time, the setting, while cliched in the extreme, is pretty atmospheric – fairly expansive backdrops, good audio, decent lighting, game engine is simple but it runs fine. (Virtually no bugs or glitches, too, which is neat compared to something like Strike Suit Zero or disasters like Legends of Pegasus.) Exploration is no great shakes, but it’s fun poking around. Levels are surprisingly expansive but not too big you get fed up with them. Character development allows for a fair amount of tinkering with skill trees, perks and weapon customisation. Combat has some rough edges but it’s much, much better than you’d think a lo-fi Arkham knockoff would ever be, and the harder fights get genuinely taxing. I’d love to see what these guys could do with a triple-A budget.

    Five hours in and I’d struggle to call it objectively great, or even very good. But I’m having fun. There’s a hell of a lot to criticise it for and it’s never going to win the dudebro audience over, but it’s still an entertaining little passion project. All the individual bits have been done before, and often better, but it’s definitely more than the sum of its somewhat wonky parts as far as I’m concerned. If you like the sound of a strange melange of The Witcher, Riddick and Rocksteady’s Arkham games, you’ve got money to burn and you’re willing to forgive some… painfully obvious budgetary shortcomings I’d say go for it.

  25. Keyrock says:

    I’m thoroughly enjoying this game so far. The production value is well below AAA but pretty good for a 20 dollar budget title. It’s essentially a mashup of Rage, Dune, Firefly, and Chronicles of Riddick, with The Witcher 2′s combat and classless 3 skill trees advancement system. If you can look past the poor lipsyncing and the voice acting (I actually kind of enjoy the campy dialogue), it’s a pretty fun game well worth the meager asking price.

  26. MattMk1 says:

    I’ve played it for a few hours yesterday – long enough to get out of the POW camp – and I’ve had a decent time with it.

    It plays like something you might get if some of the guys who made Gothic decided to make a budget game inspired by the mechanics of Witcher 2 and the look and feel of Chronicles of Riddick.

    The writing and voice acting are NOT good, but don’t especially bother me – maybe I’ve just played enough small-developer RPGs to get used to it. (well, that and the fact I just read the subtitles and skip the majority of the audio in these kind of games)

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      Gap Gen says:

      Wait, they let you out of POW camp if you play a videogame for a few hours? Them’s some lenient enemies you’re fighting.

  27. Beefeater1980 says:

    Played about 20 mins last night, enjoyed it and will be back for more today. The people who made the comparison to Cyanide aren’t totally off base; so far it is an entertaining RPG with mid-late 2000s production values.

    (Incidentally for those who haven’t played the Game of Thrones RPG, it’s very good and gets exponentially better as it goes along. If you have spare cash and time, there are many worse games to spend both on).

  28. GhostBoy says:

    I’m about 2/3rds of the way through, and pretty much enjoying it so far. The game has a few quite noticeable rough edges: Many of the NPCs sidequest look very alike, though thankfully a fair bit more effort has gone into the major players. The writing suffers from being somwaht badly paced, most notable with the companions where you can go through much of their dialogue right as you meet them, so you get from “who are you” to personal story within 5 minutes (a few exceptions do occur).

    The talking heads animation and the lipsync is jittering all over the place, which can be a bit distraction. All that said though, I think going straight to calling the writing horrible is exaggeration. The characterization of the various (major) people do shine though quite well and remains believable within the context of the settting, and none of the companions feel bland. I’ve yet to cringe, and only lifted an eyebrow once due to the aforementioned “strangers to confidantes in 5 seconds flat” issue.

    The combat is a nice challenge, even if some of it is against the camera, but Mars is hardly the only game that struggles with that particular issue. I’m regularly having to redo fights even on medium, yet only the fights that are meant to be a challenge, so it doesn’t become tedious. When I do manage to beat a hard fight, it’s because I made better use of the tools I have been given, not due to luck, so it remains rewarding.

    It’s hardly Mass Effect, neither length-wise nor depth-wise, but it is a pretty good RPG in a unique setting, with a few rough patches, all told.

    • maximiZe says:

      “War’s got nothing to do with being a hero. It’s just about crawling forward with blood everywhere.”