Mars First Logistics is an open world physics simulation game developed by Shape Shop and published by Outersloth. It releases on Steam early access on June 22, 2023, and sees you create your own mechanized Martian rover on planet Mars. You need to complete main and side quests hauling equipment between locations and unlocking new equipment and blueprints to keep improving your rover. It’s a real brain tester at times as you try to create a rover to suit objects you need to deliver, and each successful mission completes buildings in a new Mars colony.
Despite being early access, this game is already very polished with its stylized graphics for the martian surface, buildings, and the detailed rover designs. The gameplay, especially in co-op, really challenged me trying to make new rovers to suit the tasks at hand. The sound design is excellent when the rover’s engine changes tone when moving across different surface gradients and the size of the load we were transporting. I also really loved the music, especially when we were driving long distances to a new outpost. It was perfect cruising music as we negotiated the terrain of Mars.
The game starts with you familiarising yourself with the rover’s movement and camera controls. We are then given our first task of collecting and delivering a watering can. As we travel to new buildings which are grey dots on the map, we will unlock fast travel points. We also found that you can only travel a certain distance away from radio towers otherwise you get a warning that you are losing radio connection and the screen starts going static. It’s a really cool system of exploration, creating fast travel points along the way.
Once we arrive at the green house to collect the watering can, we are given a blueprint for a rover that has an arm on the front with a servo motor to rotate, and a blueprint of this design. I could use the arm to loop under the handle of the watering can and drove it to its destination. The next delivery was a crate, and we were given a new blueprint for a crate carrier rover that had a section at the front that could extend out and then back in to grab the crate, but I had to lift it up onto a ledge that was higher than the highest point of the new rover.
This is where Mars First Logistics really got our brains activated. I thought if I lifted the crate as high as I could, Justin could place his rover arm underneath to try level it up onto the ledge. We didn’t have enough money to be able to buy more parts to extend the height of my rover, and after 20 minutes of trying different things, I remembered that I could add a second servo to be able to rotate the arms, and that got the crate up onto the ledge.
There are currently over 50 different vehicle parts that we can unlock. A few new parts are unlocked slowly as you complete each quest and gain more money. Completing primary quests often rewards you with a new rover blueprint to help tackle the next challenge. You can choose from different engines, wheels, extenders, and other components to create a rover that is perfect for your needs. After a few more quests you will need to travel longer distances over the Mars surface. Once you earn a fair amount and unlock a decent number of components, your imagine will be the limit as to the contraptions you can create in the game. I have seen some crazy motorbikes, trucks and other craft out there that’s given me ideas for future rovers.
The physics in Mars First Logistics are very realistic and you will need to think of counterbalances and the shape of your rover compared to the weight of the object you need to move. You also need to be aware of the sloping and rocky terrain as you drive between points. The slightest variations of movement can have you tipping over and flying off cliffs or rolling down hills. There was one section where we had to grab a telescope mirror and transport it up this massive slippery hill. What happened over the next 10 minutes was eye-watering, hilarious fun. Justin and I were both laughing hard and just having a great time in the game.
The game world is quite vast and kept expanding as we completed more missions, being sure to visit the nearest radio tower and collecting fast travel points. There’s always something new to discover and the side quests were a good way to explore further. It was also so much better playing the game in co-op and you can have up to four players. The host will have their progress saved, but the joining players will only have their saved blueprints transfer back to their own games. Their game completion progress only advances when they play solo or host themselves.
Overall, we were very impressed with the level of detail and increasing complexity of Mars First Logistics. For what looks like a simple game in the trailers becomes a very engaging and fun time designing rovers and solving problems to keep progressing the colony. The graphics are very good, and I loved the sound design and music. I highly recommend playing the game in co-op as we had so much fun and are looking forward to watching the game get even better over the early access period. If you’re a fan of physics simulation games, then you should definitely check it out.
This review utilised a key provided by Future Friends Games and Mars First Logistics launches on June 22, 2023, on Steam early access.