I've been waiting for a good adventure that can finally go some way to producing a scary atmosphere like in those old science fiction movies. Martian Gothic looked to have a lot going for it when previews first started to appear earlier in the year, a science fiction story line along with a horror plot immediately made me sit up and take attention. Here is the basic plot and feature list:
June 17, 2019 - a deadly game begins. Your three-member investigative team makes planetfall on Mars and enters the derelict Vita base. You are caught nearly defenseless against the ancient nightmare hidden within.
Martian Gothic: UnificationTM descends upon an isolated, lonely world that is anything but barren. In this gothic action-adventure, your investigative team becomes immediately aware their very survival depends upon their ability to work together while staying apart. Your entire team has already contracted the monstrous infection that plagues Vita base, and the former Vita crew are not as dead as they appear to be.
The investigation becomes a battle to stay alive as the team uncovers the mystery of the base on Mars, exploring both the interior and part of the Martian surface until - finally - they confront the appalling secret hidden deep underground, a secret older then humanity...
Installation And Settings
Martian Gothic comes on just the single CD, but despite that - it does take some time to install everything, especially on the full 700mb installation. The game automatically picks your PC's 3D card just after installing, so you are ready to go almost straight away.
Martian Gothic plays like Resident Evil and Alone In The Dark, in that I mean that the camera angles are all pre-determined depending on which areas of a room you are walking in. As many of you can probably already guess, there are some problems with this type of camera as it can sometimes stop you from viewing certain places you are trying to view, thankfully that doesn't happen all that often in Martian Gothic.
You play as three characters investigating a plague which has broken out on a base out on Mars. During the game you can change to any one of the three main characters at anytime you want to, simply by pressing the tab key. Although this may sound like you get to basically control one person's mission while leaving the others to do later - you actually can't. This is because each person seems to have a set amount of pre-determined things to do, once they have completed those things they may come up against a door which is locked which only another member of the team can unlock via a computer in a different part of the base. This means you have to change to a different member of the crew and then find that computer.
I'm not going to go too deep into the story otherwise I may spoil it for you if you choose to buy it, but I will say that as a horror adventure game, Martian Gothic doesn't really have many scary moments. Yes there are times when zombies or whatever can surprise you - but nothing that makes you jump like they did in Resident Evil. Puzzles in the game tend to be use object a with object b along with password codes thrown in for good measure, nothing that taxes the brain too much either - which can sometimes be a good thing in adventures, but with Martian Gothic I'm concerned that a lot of adventure players will find the game too easy, or be put off by the large number of action sequences that crop up. Despite many rooms being filled with objects such as boxes, gas canisters and papers - very little can be interacted with which leaves you feeling that the game is very linear.
There are also some very frustrating moments - even early on...for example I was stuck in one room with a zombie and I was unable to get out because each time I opened a door - the zombie grabbed me and pulled me back, by the time I got free the door had closed, I open it again, the zombie got me again and so on and so on until I died..It took me a couple of goes before I finally figured out that standing right up against the door gave me a better chance of getting out.
Graphics and Sound
The game runs in the single resolution of 640x480 and you can tell that the game has been designed on both the PC and Playstation at the same time because the graphics are far from pushing the PC to its limits. For a game that uses 3D acceleration, the main character's looks and animation is pretty poor for this type of game, they all tend to seem constipated most of the time. Don't expect anything state of the art and you won't be disappointed. The game is dark for a reason, it helps with the brooding atmosphere as you try and find out what has happened to the crew on the Vita base.
Sound wise Martian Gothic is pretty good. There is quite a lot of speech in the game which is a good thing for an action/adventure title but it isn't long-winded so you don't continually want to shut the characters up all the time like you do in some point and click releases. Musically Martian Gothic is very atmospheric, eerie music pops up in the right places and gets louder as scaryish moments pop up in the game, it reminded me a little of the sound track to "The Thing".
There are a lot of different game types mixed into Martian Gothic and unfortunately none of them can be classed as great in their own right. The adventure side is lacking and perhaps a little too easy for some and the action side is limited. I will say that it has some very atmospheric moments and the majority of the speech is very well played out but it doesn't quite have the scares that Resident Evil and its sequels had a few years ago. It is also almost 6 times the price of the US version here in Europe.