I don’t know about you, but I like games that allow me to control different animals. I think since the times of Ecco the Dolphin we don’t have a chance to control a dolphin. well, Jupiter & Mars brings not just one but two dolphins on an ecological mission!
Jupiter & Mars
Jupiter & Mars is a VR-compatible first-person game that introduces us to two dolphins (I assume by now you’ve guessed their name, right?). We control one of them, while the other is always by our side, obeying a few simple commands that we can give you for control.
The game’s plot brings an ecological vibe that never gets old: in an undetermined future, global warming has submerged much of the planet. The human race has fled with its tail between its legs, leaving behind oceans in which marine life struggles to survive, sharing space with submerged cities and remnants of the dirt left by us.
When all marine fauna is put at risk by the remnants of civilization, an ancestral race of whales — the Elder Whales — delegates to the title’s dolphins the mission of “cleaning” the ocean floor, saving trapped creatures and waking up others Elder Whales, which will link their power to the energy flow that aims to clean their habitat.
So it is, Jupiter & Mars is an ecological game and in tune with environmental issues — even if inserted in a playful and fanciful context –, and even if it doesn’t rub a story in the player’s face, it sends a positive and relevant message.
Exploring the Seabed
we play Jupiter & Mars in first person, always controlling one of the dolphins, which has free movement and can pass simple commands for its companion to perform.
At the dolphin’s command, we can swim in any direction, interact with certain objects, use the species’ characteristic sonar to “map” environments, and so on. As the game progresses, we gain new skills, such as swimming in deeper or faster waters, being able to escape from ocean currents and access new areas.
In practice, the gameplay boils down to exploring the seabed and looking for something to do: we will find crabs and baby turtles trapped in human waste, and we must release them. There are also oysters with collectibles, and jellyfish that should be repelled. The game even plays with stealth, introducing electric fish that should be avoided.
Navigation can get a little confusing: without a “real” map, we have a circle on the screen that kind of gives a general idea of the location of points of interest, but you don’t necessarily need to be in a hurry to do anything. Jupiter & Mars wants, first of all, to offer a relaxing and peaceful player experience.
While this is a good thing — especially if enjoyed in VR — it ends up leaving everything a little “loose”: the exploreable areas are large and interconnected, and it may well be that you simply don’t find some very hidden objective. Also, new abilities take a while to appear, limiting the exploration possibilities we have.
While certain underwater themed games tend to be dark and oppressive, Jupiter & Mars goes in the opposite direction, and strives to be bright and colorful. The seabed here is full of bioluminescent creatures placidly swimming amid colorful algae. The flora and fauna seem straight out of avatar (the movie), or a game like NERO
The soundtrack that rocks the game is a soft and psychedelic techno, which matches the proposal very well. It’s not really memorable, but it fulfills its role. Overall, in audiovisual terms, the game is no delight, but offers a cathartic escapism that is very welcome.
Jupiter & Mars is a relaxing game with no pretensions, but it sends a very positive message and is more current than ever. And it does this by immersing the player in a very interesting water world.
I haven’t played in VR, but this is a game that undoubtedly favors virtual reality, actually submerging the player in that universe. So, if you have the opportunity to enjoy the game in VR, say that, and then tell me how it went!
Jupiter & Mars is only available for PS4 – compatible with PS VR. The game has menus and subtitles in Brazilian Portuguese.