Developer / Publisher –Steel Wool Studios
Price – US $7.99 / EU €7.99 / UK £5.59
Release Date – September 8, 2017
Input – Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area – Standing, Roomscale
Store – Steam
Reviewed on – Oculus Rift
Mars Odyssey is an interesting VR experience for people who are interested in Mars, but for those not particularly interested, this can be a dull experience. During your half hour journey, you’ll see just how big features on Mars are, and you get to mime fixing different landers and rovers. In one short segment you get to drive a small rover, but unfortunately it controls horribly, and I was continuously frustrated with how difficult it was, especially considering that there was no reason for it to be that bad. Thankfully, this segment was short, and I soon moved on.
There is lots to read in Mars Odyssey, and all text is legible. Clicking on different parts of the landers to learn about them was interesting, and I could easily see this being used as a teaching tool in schools when students are learning about Mars. The first segment you go through in the hologram room is interesting, and I thought seeing some Martian canyons put into perspective their immense size compared to the Grand Canyon and was the best part of this experience.
Mars Odyssey is teleport only, which is not so bad, but with teleport there is a brief blink to a black screen to aid in reducing nausea. While some people may find this extra step helpful and necessary, I found it to grow tiresome when I wanted to look around the Martian landscape.
Visually, Mars Odyssey is just ok. Mars is kind of interesting for a few minutes, but it quickly starts to get boring. The different landers are neat, but since your only real interaction is holding down a button to fix them or read about them, I found myself not wanting to spend to much time on these sections
The audio here is also, ok. The narration is pretty good and sounds well practiced, with the music being on the light side but enough to fill in the world. There is the aforementioned segment with a sandstorm, which was definitely a highlight from an audio perspective. I grew suddenly worried at the sight and sound of the wall of sand coming towards me.
If you are really into Mars, I could see this taking about 45 minutes to get through, but certainly not more than that, and for everyone else it is about a 25-minute experience. Overall, I would give Mars Odyssey a pickup on discount for space nerds, but keeping in mind there is not tons to do, and there isn’t really any replayability.
What would I pay? I’d pay maybe $4-5 for this, but the $8 price tag seems a little steep. This game was briefly in a VR indie game bundle, so it is possible you can find it cheaply elsewhere.