Since you’re probably not Elon Musk and have to do with simulation games and your imagination, Surviving Mars is the building simulator your need to dream about a colony on the “Red Planet”.

Tropico Mars Edition?

Created by Tropico dev Haemimont Games and published by Paradox Interactive, Surviving Mars is a simulation game where you as the player are tasked with setting up a thriving colony on Mars.
This is unlike other building simulators, in that you don’t have the luxury of things you would have on earth, such as water and oxygen. In this game, you need to approach things from a different angle.

First of all, you’re presented with a huge expanse of land on Mars, and you must decide where you will establish your base of operations. This is done by selecting where to land your first supply rocket on the surface.
Your first rocket has a host of initial supply vehicles and worker drones to get you started. You have an explorer vehicle that can investigate anomalies throughout the landscape. You also have a recovery vehicle that you can send off to recover precious materials used to construct buildings and other structures.


One of the initial modes presented is an ‘easy start’ mode, and here the game is very good at providing tutorials detailing what needs to be done first and showing the controls to get things done. There is a lot to take in the first time you play so these tutorials keep you on the right track early on in the game as you get used to the controls and the menu structure. Don’t expect to have the perfect colony first time around, as I repeated this early mode many time while I perfected my order of construction and prioritized what to build first.

The main things to set up first are water and oxygen to eventually enable humans to inhabit your colony. From there the gameplay loop expands as you set up new structures like moisture evaporators and concrete excavators. You also need to power these structures and this is where time of day comes into play. The game has a full day and night cycle which plays a huge part in how you provide power to your colony, you can’t just rely on solar power and must come up with alternative power methods.

As you progress you can also work on research for your colony, which is done to unlock new technologies to be used later in the game, and this is up to you which research you work on first. Once you have the basics of your colony established, it’s time to fly in some colonists. This adds a whole new element to the game as you now need to take into account the human side of the colony and ensure you bring in the right people to operate the colony, as well as the social side of things.

The controls and menus of the game are complicated at first, but are nicely configured to my PS4 controller. There are lots of controls and menus to get used to in the beginning, however once you’ve played a few times you pick them up fast enough. The gameplay is interesting enough that you don’t mind starting over once you’ve made progress. It’s all about building the perfect colony.


The developers have done a great job in bringing the barren landscape of Mars to life. The art design wonderful, and all of the buildings, domes and vehicles have a great combination of modern technology and a retro sci-fi look to them. There’s plenty of color and personality in the buildings and structures and each have there own animations once up and running.

The level of detail in the game is amazing, and even though you can have plenty of things happening in your colony at the same time, the game handles everything beautifully. There’s plenty of nice little finishing touches in the game, from your army of drone scurrying across the landscape to your huge solar panels following the movements of the sun during the day.

It’s also great once you bring your colonists into their bio domes, you can zoom right in and see your little humans going about their business each day, which I found a really nice touch.


Surviving Mars was so much fun to play. I found this game very approachable at the start, and also rewarded my skill level as I got better at each facet of the game. The gameplay is fun and rewarding as I progressed, and each time I started I wanted to do that little better with each new attempt. I had no problem wiping my colony and starting again trying to perfect my colony.

The visuals are captivating and the level of detail for a game of this type really surprised me. I found there were times I got distracted just watching my drones go from place to place bringing the colony to life. To be honest I was very surprised how much I enjoyed this game! I highly recommend Surviving Mars to fans of this genre, or if you’re looking for a different kind of game with an interplanetary flavor.

About author

Jorge Wolters Gregório

Gamer dad who loves the classics, indies, racers and the occasional shooter. Have been in the industry for well over a decade and am as enthusiastic as ever! #4theplayers