If you had the opportunity to terraform Mars, would you do it? Would you be willing to take on all the dangers in order to help find humanity a new home? If the chance came along, I honestly think I would take it. From researching to exploration. Life on another planet has both its pros and cons, but for humanity, the pros outweigh the cons. But do developer Tlön Industries and publisher Raw Fury bring the strategy and story to call Mars home? Let’s find out with Per Aspera VR for the Quest 2/Pro
Per Aspera VR is a unique narrative simulation & strategy game specially designed for VR. Take control of AMI, the galaxy’s most sophisticated AI, tasked with an important mission: Terraform Mars and make it a habitable planet. You decide the future — terraform, make crucial narrative decisions, manage resources, discover long-hidden secrets, and immerse yourself in a rich and compelling story. So before you go trying to Terraform Mars, there are a few things that you will want to know about. First, this game is going to be more comfortable sitting. So find your favorite place to sit and enjoy. Second, there is a lot of information that you will be presented with, so try to familiarize yourself oh how things work. Third, listen to the story being told. You may just learn something as it could help with the decisions you make. Fourth, make sure everything is charged. You don’t want to be stuck, on Mars without being able to run things smoothly all because you forgot. Fifth, I am not going to spoil anything for anyone. The choices I made may not be the ones you would like to make and I don’t want to ruin the story, so I will only be sharing the earlier parts of the game. And finally, have some fun. With that said, let’s continue…
When you first start the game, you have some choices to make. First, do you want to do the Campaign or play in the Sandbox Mode? I would recommend you do the Campaign to start, but if you do, you need to decide your difficulty level. There is the Story Mode level that will be you an abundance of natural resources, lower resource costs, construction time, faster and more durable workers, and those extra tips on how to play. The Simulation level gives you more natural resources, lower costs, and increased worker speed and durability, but you lose out on those extra tips. The Realistic level gives you an average amount of resources, costs, work speed, and durability. And then there is the Aspera level. This is the “I got this and no worries” level of difficulties…aka the more challenging one. Here you have a limited amount of resources, higher costs, reduced worker speed and durability, and limited resource recovery from scrapping. For me, I went with Story Mode. Once you have selected your level, it’s off to Mars. You play as AMI, who was sent to Mars to help with the mission. However, since you are AI, you need information to help proceed not only with the mission but yourself.
Per Aspera VR is played from a top-down view, but you can easily zoom in and out. Being part of the base-building genre, your job is to, of course, Terraform Mars. This means you will need to build lots of things in order to succeed. You just have the base to start out with, but as you start building and adding, you can start to research more facilities. But one thing to keep in mind, try not to build everything all at once because it will not turn out well for you. If you tilt the Left Touch controller sideways, you will see the mission objectives. The first one is very simple, build an Aluminum Mine. This is where you will need to press X so it opens up your building menu, select Mines, and that’s pretty much it when it comes to selecting different buildings. Once selected, you will need to find a spot. If the spot is red, you cannot build it in the desired location, if it is in white, you are good to go. Buildings can vary from the Mines to the Military.
With everything you build, there is a Knowledge Base. This will tell you what is needed to build it, what is produced, the resources, etc. But while Per Aspera VR is about building, it is also about the relationship between you and Dr. Nathan Foster. When he is speaking, you can look down at your controller and see a holographic image. This is when he will start to ask you questions and you get to make the choice of what the answer will be. Again, not going to spoil anything for anyone.
Materials will need to be gathered so you can have the resources to build new facilities. In order to build, you need workers. This is where you may want to be careful that you don’t build too many worker hubs or too many of one building. I loved when the conversation between AMI and Dr. Foster was happening, but when it was just me building, I was trying to build everything and Terraform Mars as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I had built what was not working due to certain paths and if I was to close one building then that building’s resources were not being gathered. So it can become a bit of chaos. Luckily, you can tear down any building or make any building a priority. But if you are wanting to build your way, that is when the Sandbox Mode comes into play. Just keep in mind, you lose out on the story.
Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. The graphics look good, but it wasn’t until I started to zoom in more just to get see the detail that was put into everything and start to see everything evolve and come alive. The music is simple and is a good choice for the atmosphere that you are in. Hearing resources get delivered is sounded by beeps, however, once everything is going on, you really don’t notice it. But probably what kept me engaged the most was not only the building aspect but the story. With voicing being done by Troy Baker, Laila Berzins, and Yong Yea, it made me want to know more and I am glad I stuck with it.
There are a few things that I would love to see. Keep in mind that Per Aspera first and foremost started as a non-VR game that had VR added to it and it does work. I would love to be able to go into the buildings and see how Mars is developing from the views of the buildings. Multiplayer. Just imagine if people who joined had to start off by flying to Mars and then you were there to greet them and everyone began working together or maybe against each other just to see if we would all survive. This is more of a want that may never happen, but we can all be wishful, right?
Per Aspera VR brings the strategy and the narrative to this simulation. It allows us to build on an otherwise empty canvas for humanity. But it shows how something that was taken from a non-VR view and proves that when you add that special VR element, things can be a lot better.
Per Aspera VR is out now for Quest 2/Pro. A review code was provided.
To learn more about Tlön Industries, please visit the site, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. To learn more about Raw Fury, please visit the site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I am going to go play in the sandbox.