The different areas are fairly large, but apart from the animal-aiding side quests and some collectibles there’s very little actually going on in them. There are enemies to be avoided, primarily in the form of drone-like machines whose power generators you have to smash, but apart from jellyfish there’s only a few other notable opponents to worry about.
Jupiter & Mars seems stuck between being a Journey-like experience, where you’re just exploring the world and letting the scenery and interactions tell the story, and a more traditional video game. There are elements of a Metroidvania, in the way you gain new abilities like being able to swim deeper, but they just act as simple gateways to other areas of the game and are never very interesting in themselves.
It probably would’ve been a better idea to move more firmly in one direction or the other, but unfortunately Jupiter & Mars is stuck awkwardly between two stools. That doesn’t mean it’s a complete failure though and the arresting visuals and unusual backstory do keep your interest more than you might think, especially if you play the game in the optional PlayStation VR mode – although that downgrades the visuals even further with the lower resolution and lack of anti-aliasing.
Jupiter & Mars gets its environmental message across without ever appearing preachy, but the fact that the game itself is so frequently uneventful does the whole experience a disservice. We’re sure they didn’t want to turn its cautionary tale into a shoot ‘em-up but as a video game it needs more of something, whether that’s story, action, or puzzles.
Too often video games make the post-apocalypse seem like a fun place to hang out, and while it’s a good idea to explore what it would really be like it would’ve probably been better to imply it’s something other than slightly dull.
Jupiter & Mars
In Short: A well intentioned attempt to mix Ecco The Dolphin with a more urgent environmental message but the end result Iacks any real excitement or variety.
Pros: Simple but attractive visuals and the story is got across clearly and powerfully, without feeling overly worthy.
Cons: Dull and repetitive gameplay, with too little to see and do in each area. Underdeveloped Metroidvania elements and low-tech visuals in VR mode.
Formats: PlayStation 4
Developer: Tantalus and Wicked Witch
Release Date: 23rd April 2019
Age Rating: 3
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