The Mars rover is both the best thing that’s ever happened, and also the most frustrating. It’s best because I have high-res images of the surface of Mars on my other monitor as I’m writing this and rocks have never looked so sexy, but it’s frustrating because I don’t get to play with Curiosity. I keep looking at the photos and wanting to move the buggy around, staring at all the cool rocks and dusty hills to make sure there aren’t any hidden aliens. But I think I’ll be okay, because mystery game Lacuna Passage sticks you on Mars and lets you wander around a really rather accurate depiction of a bit of the surface.
It’s not wholly accurate, but it is derived from satellite imagery of the Red Planet’s dusty topside. It’s needed for the open-world exploration and survival styling of the game, with you playing the only astronaut to survive the crash of the vehicle that was sent to investigate the disappearance of the first manned mission to the planet. It’s been pitched as a sort of slow, meditative mystery. A bit Dear Esther, but dustier. As lead developer Tyler Owen told me: “There are no guns, no enemies, no bottomless pits to skillfully jump over. It is pure story-based science-fiction exploration.”
Then he shut up, because if all it is is story then everything is a spoiler. There are a few interesting things to note. The first is the photography elements. One of your tools is a digital camera, though there’s no explanation as to why you need it. I’ll happily play a game where taking screenshots is required. If you’re reading this, Tyler: it’s only a digital camera if you’re allowed to take selfies. Skip to 1m45s in this video, because the first part shows a webpage. Boring!
The next video is just some footage of the player wandering around. But as the windy disturbs the red waste, and dust devils flit across the surface, it strikes me as a game world I desperately want to experience while wearing an Oculus Rift.
No release date as of yet.