Per Aspera – Preview (PC)
Oh man, let’s talk about Per Aspera really quick. I promise I won’t ruin the story, especially being so close to the December 3rd launch. Per Aspera totes itself as a “planetary city builder”, which for the most part is true. But…it’s so much more than that, so much better.
In Per Aspera, you play AMI, an artificial conscience tasked with being the first…”thing” to terraform Mars. I write “thing” because the humans before you have failed. With no more room for human error, it’s up to you to get Mars ready for human colonization. At first, it feels like a regular city builder/RTS game where it walks you through gathering minerals and building basic structures. It doesn’t take long for the resources to start bottlenecking and the strategy of the game starts kicking in.
When you build, your little worker bots do everything. They build, transfer materials to build and craft, and are basically the blood of your creation. It’s fairly early in the game when you realize that you’re going to need to prioritize creating more of these bots to make everything much smoother. Unfortunately, Mars isn’t very forgiving.
You do need to focus on power, a lot. Starting with solar panels and smaller hubs, you can start expanding out and branching off to more and more minerals needed to continue expansion and get humans to Mars to start researching. But you run into a lack of sun, storms, meteors, and needing to defend your colony as you advance. They have implemented a great skill tree you can pick and choose the way you want to advance your terraforming. The tree is welcomed and is a feature expected in a game like this, but it isn’t just a slick addition to the game. It is fairly thought out and allows for different types of play styles.
There are a couple more things I really want to discuss. One is the science behind everything. The team at Tlön Industries really did a great job at using real topographical data from NASA to map out Mars. Not only that but they researched real science on different ways of terraforming Mars. There’s more than one way you can choose to terraform the planet, some wasteful, others more calculated. It’s up to you to choose how you want to complete your mission.
Again I don’t want to ruin the story, but I do need to mention something. Per Aspera does have a great story underneath the city builder base. You are AMI as I mentioned above. Even though you are an artificial conscience, AMI does start becoming cognizant of things and you get to answer some questions that get presented. This was a blast to go through and had me thinking about my own mortality. Mix this in with the amazing voices of Troy Baker, Phil LaMarr, Laila Berzins, Yong Yea, Linsey Murrell, and Nneka Okoye. You’re looking at a great hit right before 2020 ends and lets face it, we all can end 2020 with a high point.