Some of the best puzzle games have simple mechanics. That is true of Mars Power Industries. What makes it a great game is all the attention to detail that goes on around those core game mechanics to make it an enjoyable and immersive experience.
You play as a plumber and electrician tasked with going to Mars to reconnect up abandoned settlements. You aren’t sure what’s happened or why they are abandoned but they need power and water. You do this by connecting pylons that are given to you in a set order per level. Each pylon will have a different direction they’ll take the element you connect them to. It may be sucking water out of the ground, or connecting the power generator to the buildings.
The first key here is that the order you get given the pylons changes how you play the game and that is because on every turn, the world map changes a little. Some grid squares will become hazards and so you’ll need to work around them or time your moves to match their safe zones. Often you can see how to to get A to B but then C pops up with spikes on and so you’ll need to reconfigure your route. Add to that you can overlay water and electricity to change the element you are channelling and things will get complex quite quickly. Thankfully levels aren’t massive and with a bit of reverse engineering, the solutions are never obtuse.
Which is just as well because from about level 20 (or year 20 in the game) a subtle alien invasion story is taking place all around you. Initially you’ll be thinking ‘hmm that’s odd’ as weird obelisks arrive but soon enough you’ll find your hazards aren’t environmental – they are alien! The developer says they were inspired by Dune and that that holds true from the story, graphic design and music score.
The deluxe version adds more levels and mechanics over the mobile original, which I haven’t personally played. However I really liked how intuitive the controls were, how dusty the graphics were and the post-synth-apocalypse score created a mood of vastness and unease. I was compelled to keep playing to see what was really going on. There’s just under 100 levels in total and it’ll take you a good 5 or 6 hours if you go after some of the secrets too.
- Ambience is spot on
- Puzzles are logical – they never stray into being too obtuse
- All story cues are require no reading and the game design is intuitively picked up
- Puzzler with a story that doesn’t get in the way! Hurrah!
- The dusty and fuzzy graphics may not appeal to everyone
Mars Power Industries Deluxe is the perfect example of a small game, build and designed properly. It draws you in with simple to understand game mechanics, feels fair and rewarding and provides plenty of entertainment. It’s difficulty curve is spot on too. Highly recommended.
Review copy provided by developer on PC. Original is available on mobile.
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