Lacuna Passage is a science fiction Sandbox game set on Mars that is currently in the Steam Early Access Program, following a successful Kickstarter campaign, from developer Random Seed Games. The premise of the game is simple – survive.
Unfortunately, at this time, only very little is available to actually play within the game, but what is there looks extremely promising. The player starts out in sandbox mode, exiting an escape pod on the surface of Mars. The planet itself is well textured and looks extremely polished, especially at night.The player’s HUD provides all the basic information really quickly, while not cluttering the display with things that the player just doesn’t need to know all the time.
With the lack of any kind of story, it isn’t immediately clear why the player starts off in the middle of nowhere with a decent sized hike ahead of them, but with the story mode still in active development, some leeway can be given. After Getting your bearings with the help of a handy tablet, the player is tasked with finding and bringing their HAB back online by turning the power on to various life support systems that surround the base. The player then uses the outpost as a base of operations to further explore the map, which is very large. It’s so big, in fact, that I ran out of patience trying to find other HAB modules as directed in the game’s objectives.
This game has a long way to go to be a finished product, even with its very good start. The mechanics feel a bit clunky when interacting with various objects, with it often taking a couple tries to figure out exactly what to do to repair a certain piece of equipment. The current lack of an in-game tutorial probably exacerbates this problem, and a really well put together one would go a long way.
Navigation around the player’s in-game tablet, which currently serves as the only source of information about the game’s mechanics, also suffers from some usability issues. The tablet must be navigated with the arrow keys instead of WASD or the mouse. It feels a bit strange to remove your hand from the mouse to interact with this, then to go back to the mouse when it is time to exit its interface.
Movement around the map is solid, but very tedious. The choice to run comes with consequences in regards to the player’s heart rate and oxygen usage, even if it helps the user to compensate for the lack of vehicles. Seriously though, a go-kart would be wonderful in this game, as there are a ton of hills to jump a Mars rover off of.
Overall, this game is hard to recommend at this point to anyone who isn’t looking to test and grow with this extremely early version of the game. There is very little point to surviving, just to survive, without any kind of tangible narrative. That being said, if the game is developed well and integrates a good amount of replay value, I can see myself buying and playing this game for weeks at a time.