Title: 39 Days to Mars
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Developer: It’s Anecdotal
Publisher: It’s Anecdotal
Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
Official Site: 39 Days To Mars
39 Days to Mars is the new co-operative puzzle adventure game from developer It’s Anecdotal, who has previous experience working on the Hitman GO and Lara Croft GO games. The game is a fun steampunk romp for an evening, but some technical issues and other problems prevent it from reaching its full potential.
The game stars two explorers, Albert and Baxter, who set out towards Mars on the HMS Fearful. Throughout your journey complications will befall your duo and require solving puzzles to keep your ship moving.
The gameplay follows two paths, running around your ship and solving puzzles when things go wrong. The puzzle design is meant for two players, whether that is using a crank system to collect a key or fighting a deep space squid monster together.
While the puzzles are challenging, they never become too overbearing. For instance, the variety of puzzles might require quick reflexives while others are focused on mental ingenuity.
A Simple Yet Rewarding Co-Op Experience
The shining light in 39 Days to Mars is the co-operative play. The controls are simple and the puzzles work well for co-op.
For example, Albert and Baxter needed to send a morse code message back to Earth letting their friends know that they are doing well and have yet to meet any space monsters. To accomplish the puzzle, we had to go to the ship’s library to get the codes, then back to the puzzle to send the message off.
It can sometimes be difficult to find new games to play with someone not accustomed to playing on a controller, but 39 Days to Mars keeps the moment to moment gameplay simple so anyone can take part.
While there is not much story to drive the game along, the charm and wit of the game carry it to the end. The voice acting for Albert and Baxter plays dry despite the goofy scenarios that lead to some downright hilarious moments.
Another aid in terms of the charm comes in the style of the game, which is done in a steampunk aesthetic. As your ship slowly falls apart, the characters make use of everyday objects to get by on their journey in interesting ways.
39 Days to Mars’ Single-Player Mode is Lacking
Where the game stumbles is in its single-player mode. 39 Days to Mars is primarily a co-op game, but it does include a single-player mode where you control both players at the same time to solve puzzles.
Most of the puzzles are made for two people to be playing at once, so it is confusing to try and do the same thing by yourself. It does seem like a game that would be better off without the single-player altogether, or more could have been done to make it a better all-around experience.
The only plus for playing in single-player mode is that the ship’s AI-controlled cat replaces Baxter as your buddy. However, there is no way to pet the cat, which is a serious letdown.
Playing on the Nintendo Switch, the game works well in both portable and docked in terms of gameplay and viewing the action on the screen. Where it stumbles is in the technical performance.
Technical Issues and Filler Content
Several times while playing, multiple technical issues and glitches occurred. Some examples include frame rate dips, visuals not going away when they should have, and multiple music tracks playing at once that required quitting out to the main menu to fix.
Another issue comes with the use of filler puzzles to lengthen the game. In between each puzzle, before you can go onto the next you must satisfy Albert or Baxter’s cravings by making them a cup of tea or a scone.
For the first couple of times trying to balance a slab of butter on a knife in co-op was ludicrous in the best ways, but after doing it half a dozen times it loses its magic. It would have been fun to have different intermissions to break up the gameplay or evolutions of the same concepts, but having it be the same two mini-games over and over just got in the way.
39 Days to Mars costs $15, and for an evening of fun, it is worth the price. However, the lack of replay value may limit it for someone looking to have a game to come back to.
Verdict: If you are looking for a new game to play co-operatively with someone, 39 Days to Mars is a good game worth checking out. However, if you are looking for something to play by yourself or looking for a more well-rounded experience, this might not be for you.
- Fun co-operative play
- Very entertaining and witty
- Engaging puzzle design
- Lacking single-player experience
- Technical issues and filler content