39 Days to Mars begins with our protagonist spontaneously deciding to go to Mars—because that’s just the sort of thing quirky 19th-century British inventors decide while sipping a spot of tea with a colleague.
To which his colleague (whoever he is) responds with an approving if disinterested “Jolly Good. Have a nice voyage!”
And off you go—along with your stalwart feline companion.
But first, you and your cat need to find your map, your favorite hat, and make ready to embark on your steam-powered airship—by solving a variety of min-game puzzles.
Co-op or cat-op
39 Days to Mars is intended to be played co-operatively (although it can be played solo) with one player controlling our unflappable explorer and the other player controlling Baxter, his colleague. Each player controls a “hand” (or paw) and can manipulate different parts of the various minigame puzzles.
Every puzzle is different and requires a measure of logic, coordination, and teamwork. For example, once you find your map you must work together to move and rotate pieces to make it whole. In another puzzle, you must maneuver a fishing hook to avoid obstacles, pick up a key, and guide it back to a receptacle—with one player controlling the horizontal movement while the other controls the vertical.
Even though 39 Days to Mars is intended as a co-op experience, you can still play solo with a little left-right brain (and hand) coordination. In a solo game, you control one hand with the mouse and—instead of Baxter, your cat’s paw—with the WASD keys and space bar. (There is no online co-op option, but a game like this wouldn’t really benefit from it.)
Although I’ve only forayed briefly into the game (about an hour for purposes of this preview), what I’ve experienced thus far is undeniably charming with its subtle humor and very inspired, clever, and very British story.
First impressions are usually fairly good indicators, and if you enjoy casual, light-hearted puzzlers that you can play with a friend, check out 39 Days to Mars when it launches April 25th for Windows, Mac, and Linux on Steam
39 Days to Mars was developed by Anecdotal, the one-person indie development studio of Philip Buchanan, who has previously worked on titles such as Lara Croft GO and Hitman GO.