Mars Topography Photography: Lacuna Passage

By Craig Pearson on May 14th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Can you get RPS on this thing?
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.

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5 Comments »

  1. Ross Angus says:

    Looks good. Hopefully, they’ll have a real violin in the sound track, rather than a synth.

  2. The Random One says:

    Hope it really is Dear Esther in Mars and not Fatal Frame… er, in Mars. I’d prefer nothing but no-pressure Mars wandering (marsdering).

    Though I’ve been heartbroken since I discovered through Space Engine that, from the Martian surface, Phobos and Deimos look like marginally bright stars and not, as I thought, Frank Frazzeta style giant fantasy moons.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Kinda wish games would stop doing the “massively accelerated time” thing if they don’t have to.

    The first thing I do in most Elder Scrolls games is to turn the time acceleration factor way down from the default of 30x, usually to around 5x. Enough that time will pass — a good evening of playing will span a whole in-game day — but not so much that it’s particularly noticable.

    The time acceleration here appears to be 180x, which is 2.5x as fast as MInecraft. Going from day to night that fast is a real immersion killer. I hope that was just for demo purposes and that the time acceleration factor is much more sedate in the final game (or ideally, adjustable).

    • Premium User Badge

      Craig Pearson says:

      I think that’s just to show off the day night cycle.

    • x70x says:

      The time is accelerated just to show off the day night cycle like Craig said. It will be closer to 1 minute = 1 hour in the actual game.

      Source: I’m the developer :)