After humankind successfully took its first steps on a foreign celestial body – the moon – they wanted more. The urge to take the next step, to master the following challenge did not let up. Mars was and is our next destination. Paradox Interactive has already simulated what is still a dream of the future with Surviving Mars. We took a closer look at the construction simulation for the consoles.

TitleSurviving Mars
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
PublisherParadox Interactive
DeveloperHaemimont Games
Genre(s)Simulation, strategy
ReleaseMarch 15, 2018
ModeSingle player
esrb-rating-everyone-10+EVERYONE 10+ - Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

Once it was a small step for a human being, but this time everything is different. Planet millions of kilometers away from the Earth’s protective atmosphere give human life the cold shoulder, Mars. It takes a lot of work before a person can leave their footprint there.

Your first mission to Mars begins by making the transition as easy as possible for the early colonists on the red planet. Collect resources, build infrastructure, build a habitat for people and supply them with two of the essential raw materials: oxygen and water. Only then can a first rocket leave Earth with the aim of surviving on Mars.


Developer Paradox doesn’t make much of a fuss about a story or a story mode. You can count on it, but first you have to look for a good landing site, which is not too much affected by storms, offers enough water and metal deposits. It’s the search for the needle in the haystack. But that’s not all. Once you have found the “Earth,” you will need to scan it to find the best landing spot.

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But before we go into too much detail, let’s take a look at the mechanics that are important – the gameplay. Here Paradox has implemented a quite simple control for the console players – at least at first glance. To be able to build buildings quickly, you can align them from a grid and promptly disappear into the tree menu with the right shoulder button. As is usual in Paradox games, you can again subdue time and not only pause it, but also make it run at triple speed.


It is nice that the developers have taken on the most significant problem that is already affecting Mars research today – dust and sand. The small sand particles on Mars do not make it easy for today’s technology to function. In Surviving Mars, you’ll need to keep an eye on your buildings. Otherwise, the buildings will cover red sand of the planet, and stop serving them.

It is also lovely that Paradox has thought and also brings scientific approaches into play. Much is still not possible today but has long been thought up in theory. Habitats in which humans can live, while the surface itself is “inhabited” by drones. These ensure that raw materials get from A to B and thus maintain operation.

They are also the caretakers and make sure that all facilities are kept running. Too necessary, because without it there will be quick deaths on Mars, is the research. By scanning new map sections, you get research points, which you have to invest in them. Thus, the first attempts of agriculture and much more.

Also considered was the fact that a first Mars mission cannot break away from the Earth. You can always request missiles if you have the funds to bring resources, buildings and ultimately settlers to Mars.


You will be able to use this kickstart more than once. Rockets, like all other buildings, you can dismantle back into their essential parts. It gives you some resources in the short term, but rockets do not grow on trees. Therefore, it is advisable to refuel your rocket again and again and send it to your home to import more resources and settlers.

However, Mars poses more problems than just a shortage of raw materials. Man is not made to live in such an environment. Besides hunger, thirst and the urge to breathe, it is above all the mental state of people that can make the difference.

Work alone does not make people happy, and when people are born, this education must be experienced and trained. All this will become more and more important as the game progresses, which you will have to solve as well as the other problems.

And there are enough problems on Mars. Sandstorms, meteorite impacts, unexpected technical failure and more. But it is good that for every kind of problem often a human being already has a solution ready. If you get colonists on the planet, they should already have some knowledge up their sleeve.


Here Paradox gives you the opportunity to choose what you need, even in demographic terms. Children, teenagers, adults or seniors – they all have strengths and weaknesses that you can consider and use.

Graphically, Surviving Mars is not a visual masterpiece, but a beautiful game, directly related to its genre. Everything runs smoothly and without jerks. As usual in simulations, you can approach the buildings and people from a simple view from above, down to a few meters. Often the attention to detail shows up, and the paradox did not only publish a game without expert knowledge but thought about the topic.

The sound of the game is not entirely on the same level. Sometimes there is a problem with the volume of music and game sound. When you set the music volume correctly, you can expect a suitable and unobtrusive background to your adventures on Mars.


Even if Mars is further away from the sun, there are still many shadows that the game raises. Bugs are one of them. Often the game seems to be arbitrary and complains about things we have long taken care. People are starving even though food supplies are piling up. Power fails, although the reserves are full and all lines including redundancy systems work.

These things can quickly slow down the fun, mainly when the run was so good, the research is going well, and the colony is taking shape and form. More than once, therefore, we have had to abandon a colony and devote ourselves to a new project.


The last, significant criticism Surviving Mars has to put up with its controls. It is hard to explain. The best thing is, you learn by doing. You won’t find intuitive controls in Surviving Mars, especially if you want to expand your pipe system and the power grid. You will quickly find yourself on the limit of your patience.

The prescribed paths, both of which can and should go, usually do not correspond to the way that has just been laid out for you. Often a small direct connection is not possible without patience and trickery. Because suddenly a curve is suggested to us, which no human being, not even those on Mars, wanted to have.


Surviving Mars is one of the games we have put many hours. Not because we had to, but because the hours have passed suddenly and without warning. It is so much fun to build a colony according to his ideas and to hope that every step is helpful and does not cause the downfall of civilization on Mars. There are still various bugs that cloud the game, and surely the game could look better, but also significantly worse.


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