Per Aspera Preview – Colonizing Mars: The Video Game

I wouldn’t say that I’ve actively played a simulation game for quite some time. However, after I saw what Tlön Industries was creating in their colonizing simulation game Per Aspera, I knew I had to give it a try. It may have a lot to do with the outer space themes, and I was just curious to see how this team approached the genre that takes part across an entire planet.

The demo that I was able to play didn’t contain any narrative and simply allowed me to mess with the game’s sandbox systems of colonizing Mars. At first, I had no idea what I was doing and quickly ran out of resources and failed my colonist. After a restart, I chose to take things more seriously, and the next thing I knew, an hour has passed, and I was still having a relatively good time.

Per Aspera’s simulation aspects rely heavily on managing resources and expanding your structures, at least in these early moments. I had first focused on speed of development but opted to create an abundance of workers to build and manage structures quickly. As you could have guessed, this requires power, which means I need solar stations, but then if there’s an overcast, I need to make sure I have battery power to keep my factories in order.

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There’s this risk-and-reward element of the game where you can be sitting high and might for a few days until you realize that your mines are empty and your pretty far away from any resources. Managing water and small colonies is also needed to create a well-managed system of connected elements that satisfy this satisfying feeling when you’ve conquered a random event and still managed to preserve your colony.

Zooming in-and-out will show you just how enormous this planet is and gives a hint of the sheer amount of possibilities that you’ll have expanding your structures. Simultaneously, the game focuses heavily on resource management, where you place these structures also factors into their output. It’s possible to speed up and slow down time to respond to more hectic situations such as a storm or weather change.

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Per Aspera looks gorgeous and features a beautiful in-game rendition of Mars’ map. It was simply fun admiring the red planet as I slowly consumed its natural resources for the human species. Still, I’m eager to see how the story plays into this. As fun as the simulation systems are, I would like the goal to be greater than, “Fill up this space with buildings.” I’d also like to see how these structures can be upgraded and the other structures that I can build in the game’s later parts. Sure, the demo gives a good idea of the basic gameloop, but I know there’s more.

I liked Per Aspera because it sometimes forced me to make some decisions during these early moments as new mining areas appeared near structures. It’s a small choice but substantial in the demo as you have to destroy a facility or two to build a new one if only to mine the resources. I want these heavy choices to evolve and have varying outcomes in the late game. Still, as hectic as the gameplay can be, I was pretty relaxed while playing.

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Per Aspera surprised me with its accessible approach to the simulation genre, even with the worldly goal of colonizing Mars. It’s almost cathartic in a way as you create structures and address all of the individual needs required to continue to run the colony efficiently. Well, that is until a storm piles over or half the power goes out, and you need to figure out why. Here’s to colonizing Mars!

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.