39 Days to Mars

39 Days to Mars: Space Adventure with a Twist

When it comes to video games, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of solving a tough puzzle with a friend or, if you’re someone who loves a challenge, on your own. That’s the heart of “39 Days to Mars,” a game that takes you and a pal – or a cat if you’re flying solo – on a journey to Mars that’s anything but smooth sailing. After spending some quality time with this indie gem, I’m ready to unpack all that it has to offer, from the laughter-inducing mishaps to the occasional frustrations that are part and parcel of any adventure.

A Voyage Worth Taking?

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The moment I fired up “39 Days to Mars,” I was met with a cozy, sepia-toned world that pulled me in with its charming Victorian vibe. The game promised a lighthearted story filled with quirky puzzles, and boy, did it deliver! Imagine two British chaps deciding on a whim to fly a homemade steam spaceship to Mars. It’s an idea so outrageously silly, I couldn’t help but be enamored by it.

Playing this game is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle where you don’t quite know what the final picture is supposed to look like, but you’re just too curious not to try. And as the game suggests, it’s indeed better with a friend. With my trusty player two by my side, we tackled each whimsical hurdle the game threw at us—whether it was figuring out how to use a fishing rod to snag a key or warding off a space monster using nothing more than a broomstick.

Puzzling It Out

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The puzzles themselves are clever concoctions that manage to blend seamlessly into the game’s Victorian-steampunk aesthetic. They often left us scratching our heads, but that moment when everything finally clicked was pure, unadulterated joy. One minute we’d be steering a lift by synchronizing our movements on a rope, and the next, we’d be pouring a perfect cup of tea amid the chaos of space travel. It’s the sort of thing you expect more from a posh London tearoom than a rickety spaceship hurdling towards Mars, but it works.

Each puzzle felt fresh, a new chance to test our combined wits. And while some puzzles did keep us stumped for longer than we’d care to admit, “39 Days to Mars” had a pleasant way of making us grin through the struggle. That said, be ready for some fumbling—the controls can be quite the handful, especially alone. Controlling both characters at once made me feel like I was learning to walk again, excessively clumsy and prone to tripping over my own feet.

Art and Sound: A Victorian Charm

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Graphically, the game’s detailed pencil drawings and sketch-like style are a sight to behold. Every scene felt like an interactive piece of art, something I’d half expect to find in a quirky London gallery than on my gaming screen. And the accompanying music was so charming I wished the soundtrack was available on vinyl to play on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Duration and Replayability

However, not all that glitters is gold. For one, “39 Days to Mars” is a rather short experience. I love a tight, well-told story as much as the next guy, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that just as we found our space legs, the game was winding down. It’s a little like settling into a good book, only to find the last chapter has been ripped out. My co-pilot and I were left wanting just a bit more from this interstellar escapade.

Yet, there were dense layers to be peeled back in subsequent playthroughs. The game seemed to nudge us to dive back in and explore different outcomes, offering a kind of replayability that managed to partially ease the sting of the journey’s brevity.

Oh, The Humanity! (and Felinity?)

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I must note that playing with a cat as my sole companion in single-player mode was oddly entertaining, albeit trickier. The cat, not limited by human hands or logic, brought an unexpected twist to solving puzzles that seemed engineered for bipedal cooperation. Truly, this game shows that even in an alternate reality, cats are not to be underestimated.

To Solo or Not to Solo

However, the stars align far more favorably in multiplayer mode. The game begs to be played with a friend—miscommunication, accidental blunders, and spurts of laughter are all part of the package. In contrast, going at it alone can sometimes feel like you’re piloting a ship destined for a black hole rather than the red planet. There are moments where you might find the solitary venture downright testing on your patience, and not in a way that’s particularly endearing.

Final Verdict: Is “39 Days to Mars” for You?

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So, should you embark on this 39-day journey to the great beyond? If you revel in clever puzzles, tongue-in-cheek humor, and have a partner in crime (or a cat), “39 Days to Mars” delivers an escapade that’s quirky and memorable. Yes, it has its quirks, and yes, it may test your patience at times, but it’s a ride that’s worth all the tea in England.

The game is at its strongest when played as intended—with another person by your side sharing the joy and the head-scratching. It offers up a lovely, if fleeting, adventure that’s enriched by its inventive puzzles, charming aesthetics, and a playful sense of humor.

Just be sure to remember: the journey is always better than the destination, and with “39 Days to Mars,” it’s a truth you’ll discover first-hand. My couch co-op journey with my friend was filled with laughter, debates on the right way to handle steampunk machinery, and moments of triumphant high-fives. Indeed, it was an out-of-this-world experience that I wouldn’t trade for all the space tea on Mars.

About the author

Tom Henry

I worked as a PM in video games, now I'm trying some new things.