AppMonday: The Martian
Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” is now in theatres, giving people a motion picture adaptation of Andy Weir’s science fiction novel of the same name, where readers got the chance to see how future astronaut Mark Watney survived Mars after a freak accident that left him stranded there.
Released back in 2011, geeks and science fiction readers have known about this one for some time, and while it’s a pretty good read, there’s also a lot of chemistry and science in the text, reading in some parts almost like a science manual for surviving the red planet if you were ever stuck there.
As a movie, it’s a little bit easier for most people to consume, and if you’ve seen it — we won’t give any spoilers about either medium — it’s an enjoyable feel good flick that doesn’t feel totally removed from reality, which is often the way movies can be when it comes to space travel.
If you have seen the movie or read the book and you’re looking for a way to relive moments and stay connected, a game has been released allowing you to do just that.
Called “The Martian: Bring Him Home”, this game is a text-based adventure allowing you to take on the role of a NASA communications specialist picking up on signals sent by our hero Watney from Mars, with you getting to talk to him while reading emails from other fictional NASA crew who will be there to help him.
You’ll see messages come in one after the other as if Watney was talking to you, and every so often you’ll be able to provide a response, answering questions or providing someone on the other side of a 225 million kilometre trip with another voice to talk to, even from text.
If you have a smartwatch, you can even see the messages on this device, making the communication just that much more real, effectively turning the smart devices you rely on most into a communication portal to a fictional character reliant on talking to you for survival.
Messages do eventually stop after a while as the character goes on to try things in his fictional world, though you can always speed them along if need be, getting through the story more quickly.
In some parts, you’ll even be tasked with finding the answers for questions so the character doesn’t blow himself up.
If you make a mistake, you can, fortunately, always go back in time to rectify it, though not without seeing a glimpse of Mars and the destruction your poor decision has brought.
This is beginning to sound familiar, though. Really familiar.
We’ve been doing AppMonday reviews for a few months, and already at this point, it’s hard not to see The Martian game sounding and feeling a lot like the title that started off our “AppMonday” reviews: “Lifeline”.
Back in July, we checked this out because it offered a unique little adventure experience that simulated communication with someone on another world, even going so far as to extend this experience to a smartwatch. In that title, the communication was much the same, with constant text messages where your suggestions shaped what would happen to the astronaut on the other end of the phone or watch, followed by periods of nothing happening so the character could go do what they said they’d do, providing a bit of suspense.
In fact, looking back on “Lifeline”, it’s hard not to see “The Martian” as a clone of that title, because that’s what it is.
Granted, it’s a really sleek looking clone, offering NASA-inspired designs that feel a little more slick, and connections to characters you’ll remember from the movie and/or book, but that’s all it is: a clone.
That’s not a bad thing, either, it’s just not the innovative experience we had earlier in the year, because that goes to Lifeline.
The Martian is still worth a play, mind you, especially if you’re a fan of the movie and are anxiously waiting for the movie to arrive on Blu-ray or DVD, but we’d probably check out Lifeline instead and wait for The Martian to drop in price, because once you’ve experienced the book or the film, very little of what is being offered in the game is new, whereas Lifeline is a totally different story altogether.
The Martian: Bring Him Home is available now for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and Android for around $5.