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Mars First Logistics looks like the game Death Stranding wishes it was

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Mars First Logistics, the latest game from Melbourne-based Ian McClarty, is a game about making deliveries in a harsh environment.

From the Steam store page for the newly-announced Mars First Logistics, two of its features are listed as:

  • Haul a wide variety of awkwardly shaped cargo over rugged terrain
  • Battle the elements across a vast open world

Does that sound like another game that released in the past couple of years? Yep, that’s right – we’re thinking about Death Stranding.

But Hideo Kojima’s “strand game” buries its pure hiking and hauling brilliance beneath an impenetrably stupid story, death-by-cutscene, terrible combat, and bizarre product placement/advertising.

Mars First Logistics, on the other hand, focuses on the deliveries, with the player creating and customising robotic couriers specifically designed for each awkward, obtuse task. It also really nails the isolation by getting its ass to Mars. (And, in sensibly casting robots as its heroes, not a bunch of Hollywood folk Kojima wants to be friends with, I’d wager there is almost no extraneous exposition.)

Visually, Mars First Logistics brings to mind the edge-detection and flat shading of Sable, smashed together with robot-building UI that’s straight out of a Lego Technic manual. It’s gorgeous in an understated way, and whip-smart.

Gameplay-wise? Well, that looks like Lego Technic, too, on the construction side, with a hint of Kerbal Space Program – and, yes, Death Stranding – on the planet traversal to make those deliveries. Earn credits, upgrade your bots, make more deliveries. It’s a pleasing little loop, straight out of the Elite handbook.

Mars First Logistics has a planned release date of 2022. One to watch, we think.

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