Mars War Logs Articles RSS Feed | Mars War Logs RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network 5 Sci-Fi RPGs You've Never Heard of But Should Play Fri, 15 Jul 2016 07:11:43 -0400 Janiece Sebris

First things first: this listicle is not trying to insult your intelligence. While you may have heard of all these sci-fi RPGs already, let this list be a reminder to you about how great experiencing role-playing games in a science fiction universe can be.

1. Mars: War Logs

As the game suggests, this Sci-Fi RPG is set on the planet Mars. However, it is also set nearly a century after the colonies on the planet were plunged into chaos when a catastrophe occurred. Water is a highly sought after commodity on the planet, obviously. While the corporations in the game try to control the water, you play as Roy Temperance, an adventurer.

Before we jump to conclusions, let's all agree that the small RPG Mars: War Logs sounds an awful lot like The Technomancer. Well, it makes sense as both games were developed by Spiders and published by Focus Home Interactive. While Mars: War Logs wasn't as well received as The Technomancer, one cannot deny which is the chicken and the egg in this scenario, making the need to play Mars all the more necessary.

Get it on Steam for $14.99.

2. Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines

How could the vacant eyes of the meandering undead and 21st century Los Angeles possibly have more in common than they already do? Vampire: The Masquerade--Bloodlines is the answer to that question. In this RPG, the player can choose to progress as either a male or female character who has been killed and then revived as a vampire. Players also must choose a vampire clan for their character based on points in different areas. While Vampire did not do well initially, it has since garnered a cult following.

Get it on Steam for $19.99

3. Transistor

Unlike the games above, Transistor sold well upon release in early 2014. Developed and published by Supergiant Games, Transistor uses an isometric point of view as the lead character, Red, goes from point A to point B. Red is a famous singer in the fictional city of Cloudbank. After escaping assassination by the enemies known as The Process, Red comes to possess a huge weapon called the Transistor. Fans of the game noted its stunning graphics as one of its greatest features. In 2014, Transistor won Best Graphics in IGN's Best of 2014.

Get it on Steam for $19.99.

4. Deus Ex: Invisible War

A sequel to critically acclaimed Deus Ex, Deus Ex: Invisible War takes place 20 years after its predecessor, set in 2072. In the game, the world is recovering from what is referred to as The Collapse. Players see the game's world through the eyes of character Alex D, a trainee of Taurus Academy. Like the game before it, Invisible War received favorable reviews, except for comments on the game's tendency toward an over-simplified gameplay. Overt RPG elements within the game include the use of Biomods or nanotechnological implants that grant different abilities to players.

Get it on Steam for $6.99.

5. Omikron: The Nomad Soul

If there were no reason to play this game except for the soundtrack, that would be enough. The late-great David Bowie co-wrote the soundtrack to the game. Also, his likeness appears twice within the game. Omikron is set in the fiction city of the same name. Early in the game, the fourth wall is demolished as one of the city's police officers ask the player to join him. In the game, players investigate different serial killings within the city. Although released in 1999, versions scheduled for PlayStation and PlayStation were ultimately dropped after the Dreamcast version failed to sell.

Get it on Steam for $9.99.

What are your favorite sci-fi RPGs? Let me know in the comments!

Why I'm only kind of excited for The Technomancer Sun, 09 Aug 2015 06:32:42 -0400 Duran Boskovic

The studio Spiders has released some more gameplay footage for its upcoming game The Technomancer the sequel (or possibly prequel?) to their 2013 game Mars: War Logs. The footage shows off the base mechanics, such as changing stances and technomancer abilities, as well as crafting. But the biggest draw would have to be the cyberpunk aesthetic. 

The Technomancer definitely looks cool, but I’m no stranger to Spiders' games, and it makes me wary. The last two titles they put out, Mars: War Logs and Bound by Flame, were rough to say the least. Mars: War Logs which is the first game in the (now) series was a diamond in the rough - the story was interesting and the main character, while being a pretty stereotypical tough guy, was still pretty likable. But despite the cool setting, the game had some glaring flaws: poorly paced social strings (went straight from meeting someone to them declaring their love for me), the length of the game, and general jankiness made it pretty hard to recommend to people who didn't like RPGs and cyberpunk.

The game they released after that was...not very good. Don't get me wrong, Bound by Flame really tried. But the lackluster characters, forgettable protagonist, and boring plotline just killed it for me as far as narrative-driven RPGs go. And the jank didn't get any better, either. 

The big question is: Can Spiders learn from its mistakes and deliver this time?

What I've seen of The Technomancer looks really good, and if they've fixed the issues they've had in the past, I’ll play the hell out of it. I’m just not sure if that's going to happen. I guess I'll find out when the game drops in 2016 for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

What about you? Are you hyped for Technomancer, or do you have reservations of your own? Let me know in the comments!

Five Great Budget RPGs Worth Exploring Wed, 06 May 2015 18:17:25 -0400 Elijah Beahm


Shattered Planet -- PC, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS


For those who want a less grim and dark turn-based rogue-like RPG, there is actually an equally good alternative to Darkest Dungeons; it's called Shattered Planet. Instead of traditional turn-based gameplay, Shattered Planet is a bit more like Crypt of the Necrodancer meets Pokemon.


Every turn happens at once for everyone, and you can queue multiple move orders at once, making the game feel almost like a realtime experience. However, once you are in combat, you fight whoever is immediately next to you, and while you can retreat, there's very little reason to.


The game has multiple objectives to aim for, be it getting further into its levels, exploring story-based missions, or just trying to find as many unique items as you can. Everything rewards you, keeping a constant feedback loop like out of Diablo.


The biggest deciding factor you have to go with is whether you want the game for free, or with bonus content. The PC version includes bonus content and a much more fair economy system, but also costs $14.99 despite simply being a rogue-like. However, the tablet version of the game is much more grind intensive. You'll have to make the call on this one.


If there are any other fantastic budget RPGs you can think of that I missed, be sure to let me know in the comments below!


Darkest Dungeon -- PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, and PS Vita


A Kickstarter success, Darkest Dungeon is a hardcore rogue-like RPG with beautiful visuals and unforgiving gameplay. It plays out like a traditional turn-based game, but it has some unique twists. Your characters not only have to worry about health and mana, but their own sanity and hopefulness.


Keep their spirits high, and you'll be on your way to victory. Have them slowly go insane, and suddenly everyone has a thousand more vices than virtues. The game's blend of organic narrative-through-gameplay storytelling gives it a personal touch only a game with random generation could.


Unlike any other title listed, it is also available on PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, if you prefer to play your RPGs on console or on the go. It's best to not spoil the game any further than I have, but if you dare test the depths of madness, be sure to look up Darkest Dungeon. It normally runs for about $19.99, but is another excellent title often on sale.


Of Orcs & Men -- PC, PS3, and Xbox 360


This time a collaborative effort between Cyanide Studios and Spiders, Of Orcs & Men is kind of amazing in that it's hard to believe it exists. It is a game heavily inspired by Knights of the Old RepublicWarhammer, and revisionist history. You play as both an orc and a goblin, controlling them through pause and play gameplay, whilst also partaking in a few brief stealth sections.


The big paradigm shift, if it wasn't clear already, is that the game puts humanity as the villains. It's not the elves or the dwarves causing problems, and the Orcs were just minding their business. Humanity is the aggressor, with the entire storyline framing a new sense of moral choice as you look at things from a greener point of view.


What's also great about this one is the dark sense of humor. Sometimes it gets more than a little much, but often the wit of your goblin character Styx outweighs the "too much" moments. The tactical combat also encourages a unique flow that most games don't push for -- you have to not be too aggressive. If Styx is too aggressive, he dies because he's a weak little goblin. If Arkail, your ork, gets too angry, he will go into a blind rage and leave your control temporarily.


Instead of this mechanic being a downside, it instead encourages clever strategy and throws in a new wrinkle to a subgenre of combat that rarely gets new ideas tossed in. Like with everything in its campaign, Of Orcs & Men isn't afraid to try new things and push the boundaries of what can be done in an otherwise traditional pause and play RPG.


While it normally runs for about $30, you can catch it on sale just as frequently as Mars: War Logs. If you want to face hard choices, hilarious quips, and a cynical fantasy universe, there are few places better to look than Of Orcs & Men.


Shadowrun: Dragonfall -- PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS


There are few better than Shadowrun when it comes to Cyberpunk RPGs. First an expansion, and now a standalone sequel to the original Shadowrun ReturnsShadowrun: Dragonfall is the highest praised entry in the series of CRPGs by Harebrained Schemes.


While the original Shadowrun Returns is a great game to consider on its own, Dragonfall fixes the majority of the issues Returns had, and includes a much deeper cast of characters to boot. While you can import your original character from the first campaign, there's nothing stopping you from choosing this as your entry point.


The biggest choice though, is which platform to use. The game is perfectly playable on iOS and Android, but lacks mod support. The DRM free version also lacks the majority of mods you'll experience with the Steam version. You'll have to weigh platform preference and user generated content, as the numerous player made storylines add a lot more value to the game.


The main story runs for anywhere between 15 to 25 hours depending on how thorough you are, and the Director's Cut is very reasonably priced at $14.99. For some awesome Cyberpunk-Fantasy role playing, be sure to look up Shadowrun: Dragonfall.


Mars: War Logs -- PC, PS3, and Xbox 360


Most studios would balk at the idea of trying to match the mechanics and ideas of Witcher and Mass Effect in their second RPG, but French developer Spiders set out do to just that. The game has a few rough spots, especially a liberal use of swear words North American users might wince at, but it also has an incredibly deep crafting system and unique story.


Mars: War Logs doesn't want to just tell you the same hero's journey story that you've heard a thousand times. Instead, it asks the question of what if someone like Han Solo got special powers and Luke was just a companion along for the ride.


On top of this, the combat is live action and heavily focused on play style choice. Do you choose to focus on roguish tactics, magic abilities, or brute force? Not exactly breaking the mold on their own, but the ability to blend them makes it far more interesting.


The main story runs for about 9 to 15 hours depending on how thorough you are, and the game is regularly dirt cheap (see: $5 or less) during Steam sales. If you like what you see, then be sure to take a trip to the big red planet in Mars: War Logs.


The past two years have been kind to RPG fans. Big hit titles like Dragon Age: Inquisition and the upcoming Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt have (and will have) given us plenty of moral quandries and epic battles to face. Yet, not everyone has or even very well can jump on board with these epic adventures just yet. For those still holding on to last-gen or who just want a solid RPG that won't break the bank, here are five solid experiences to pass the time.

Mars: War Logs - A Glaringly Average RPG Mon, 12 Aug 2013 19:33:36 -0400 B. Chambers

I had high hopes for Mars: War Logs given the current state of RPGs on Xbox 360. Mars: War Logs attempts to emulate the best parts of many of its AAA predecessors. Unfortunately, the end result is a stripped down version of the Mass Effects and Dragon Ages it's trying to copy. It's not a bad game, just glaringly average. With that in mind, let's talk about how different types of gamers may react to the Mars: War Logs experience.

The Action Junkie - Combat uses a hybrid system mixing real-time action and the tactics wheel that Mass Effect made popular on consoles. There are several skills you can use in battle, but the action is grossly repetitive.  

The Bookworm  - Bookworms need not apply. There is a story here and it is endearing at times. However, the characters are flat and lifeless and the story is rushed. If you need an excellent story with great characters to enjoy an RPG, this is not your game.  

The Explorer 
 - I believe explorers will be disappointed. MWL is an utterly a linear game with sidequests (read: errands) peppered in. You basically traverse 3 different towns in the game's 3 chapters. You'll spend a lot of time running around with your map on just to make sure you're going the right way.  

The Strategist -  Battles can be difficult and intense even on easy difficulty. The problem here is that they're repetitive and what makes them difficult - when they are difficult - is simply the number of combatants on-screen. You use the same 3 sets of attacks Technomancy - Standard Attacks - Guard Breaks. Once you use all three in a battle, you've seen every battle you'll ever have in the game.  

The Audiophile & Visualist  - Mars: War Logs looks dated and the soundtrack is less than memorable. If you look for great visuals and sound in your games, this isn't the one for you.

The Builder 
 – The minor saving grace of this errand running simulator is its crafting and leveling system. Running errands to NPCs as well as completing main storyline missions, will grant you access to skill points and components you can use to customize Roy's abilities and the weapons and armor he rocks. The crafting and leveling systems are decent, but not really enough to make a player forgive this game for being tedious and derivative. 

Verdict: I really wanted to like Mars: War Logs. If I'm being completely honest, I never would have finished the game if I wasn't reviewing it. It tries hard to give the player something new, based on what older, better games have accomplished. Unfortunately, in the end, it's just a derivative game that doesn't do enough to make it worth playing. 

Mars: War Logs Review - Return Your Posterior to Mars Thu, 02 May 2013 13:02:12 -0400 Alan Bradley

It’s always pleasant when a game you’re completely unaware of manages to ambush you and proves to be surprisingly novel or interesting.  The unfortunately-titled Mars: War Logs is just such a game, flying well below the mainstream radar but providing a surprising amount of entertainment and depth. 

In the not so distant future, man has extended his reach across our solar system and begun terraforming our red neighbor, Mars, in an attempt to offload some of the population of an overburdened earth.  While these colonies struggled at first to gain a foothold in the inhospitable Martian landscape, they soon began to prosper, settlements growing into cities, proper civilization setting its roots.  However, just as human life on Mars began to flourish, catastrophe struck: Mars tilted dangerously on its axis, exposing the colonists to deadly volumes of solar radiation, killing many, mutating others, and cutting the planet off from resupply from Earth.



The Story of Mars

War Logs begins years after this cataclysm (which the colonists call The Turmoil), and puts us in the shoes of Roy Temperance, a prisoner in a labor camp of one of the factions that’s fighting for control of the planet’s most precious resource: water.  Roy, it turns out, has a complicated past that unfolds alongside the main narrative, and while there are some interesting revelations, neither Roy’s back story nor the story at large is wildly engrossing.  The most interesting facet of the narrative is the setting, a lot of the character of which is only exposed by investigating text entries that are periodically added to your log.  Though the developers bill the game as a “cyberpunk RPG”, the aesthetic feels a lot more steampunk than its high tech counterpart.  It’s a lot more Red Faction than Neuromancer.

The primary mechanic in War Logs is its third person melee combat, which is serviceable if a bit less snappy and responsive than some of its contemporaries.  It’s redeemed largely by the strategic options the game puts at players’ fingertips, which become necessities when confronted by some of the game’s more difficult encounters.  Overall the challenge level is fairly consistently high, so having a war chest of traps, grenades, and spell-like “technomancer” abilities is a mandatory boon.  The game also does an excellent job of allowing players to tailor characters to suit their play-style by way of three robust skill trees and a relatively deep crafting and upgrade system for weapons and armor.



One of the more surprising wrinkles in War Logs is the significant role that player choice and dialogue selections play in the way quests resolve and the story develops.  Though hampered slightly by some subpar voice acting and poor (or poorly translated) dialogue, the choices you make about how to handle conflict or achieve your objectives can change the outcome of a lot of the game’s scenarios in dramatic ways. 

For a twenty dollar downloadable title, War Logs is engaging and complex in a lot of surprising ways.  Coming at a time when there’s not a glut of triple-A games crowding the market, War Logs is a gem in the rough.

Mars: War Logs Review Fri, 03 May 2013 00:57:18 -0400 Max Graham

When I first read the description of Mars: War Logs on Steam, I was instantly sold. I had been craving a good Sci-Fi RPG for a while and I have to say I got my fix. While elements of the game are not particularly original, the individual components tie in together well, delivering a satisfying experience. 

On the Red Planet

You are on the red planet, in a dystopian future ravaged by war. While this is not exactly a novel scene, despite the trope it does a nice job. I enjoyed the different zones, but wish there could have been more. Not in terms of eye-popping graphics, but more sweeping red vistas to complement the grungy shanty towns. You are first introduced to this world by Innocence, a young prisoner of war who is quickly saved from the more violent inmates by the main protagonist, Roy Temperance.

A Jack of all Trades

Roy is a skilled "tough guy" with several abilities and talents at his disposal. While the role playing elements are not as deep as some games, it is versatile enough to provide meaning to your decisions, without punishing you for experimentation. You are able to choose your skills from three main branches, Technomancy, Renegade and Combat. Technomancy includes many spell-like abilities that may be use to perform effects such as area damage, generate shields, or enhance existing attributes. Renegade covers many of your rogue-like skills, and finally there is Combat, which is pretty self explanatory in helping you survive and defeat enemies in a more direct manner. 

Roy Temperance

(Image taken from in game)

Outside of combat, Roy is capable of crafting new items such as ammunition, consumables and upgrades, using bits and pieces found along the way. While not a complicated system, the items you craft and upgrade will go a long way in helping you along your journey. 

Kicking Ass the Old Fashioned Way

Most of the combat in this game is close range melee. You will have projectile weapons such as nail guns, or grenades, but they come secondary to whatever it is you are hitting people over the head with. I thought this was a little bizarre given the sci-fi nature of the game, but putting that aside allowed me to enjoy the mechanics for what they were. The combat is pretty straightforward, with your standard attacks, breaks, blocks, parries, and evasions. By weaving these tactics together, you can effectively deal with your enemies in an extremely rewarding fashion. Ignoring them and try to simply go head first swinging will most likely end in death (Pro Tip: Use the throw sand ability, it is a life saver). I appreciate a game that makes me strategize a little, but when you do mess up for what ever reason, the checkpoint system is also pretty forgiving for an RPG.

Combat in War Logs

(Image taken from in game)

Actions Lead to Consequences 

Throughout the game you are going to be faced with decisions that will affect your
reputation, the outcome of certain story elements, or how NPC characters perceive you. These decisions are mostly accomplished through dialogue, but other mechanics such as whether or not you harvest serum from defeated enemies also factor in -- reminiscent of the original BioShock mechanic of saving or harvesting the little sisters. Depending on your reputation, your companion characters may start to react differently, possibly becoming frighten, or even attracted to you.

Harvesting Serum

(Image taken from in game)

Monkey Wrench in the Gears

The game has a lot going for it, but there are a few technical issues which detract from the overall experience. Combat for instance, can be extremely frustrating when dealing with multiple opponents. While there is a lock on system, it is far from perfect. I would roll away from danger, only to find myself facing the wrong direction, leading to multiple stab wounds to my backside, which hurts. Other times I would get caught on small ledges and effectively become surrounded, with no method of escape. It helps to use the skills-select wheel, which slows down time, to carefully think out your next move. Dialogue, which has a reasonable impact on the story elements, would also benefit from a little more refinement. Nothing breaks the game, but it does make you wish it had a little more polish.

In the End

I really enjoyed playing Mars: War Logs. The developers, Spiders, have created another interesting, original IP that I want to see more of in the future. With just a little more, I think this game could have been fantastic, that being said, for a downloadable title selling for $19.99 this game is pretty damn good. If you are interested in a fun, challenging, Sci-Fi RPG, this game scratches an itch, if only enough to leave you wanting more.

Mars: War Logs is currently available on Steam for PC, and will be released on XBLA/PSN sometime Q3 2013.