FEATURED GAME

Puzzles for two

Work with a buddy in this steampunk co-op puzzler.

39 Days to Mars

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Sir Albert Wickes and the Right Honourable Clarence Baxter are in search of adventure – and what could be more fitting for two Victorian gentlemen than a trip to Mars? Right then, let’s build a spaceship and get started. After this cup of tea and a scone, that is.

That’s the premise and humour of 39 Days to Mars, a whimsical two-player game where you and a friend work together to solve puzzles to get your rickety spaceship, the HMS Fearful, to the Red Planet and back. Along the way, you’ll face challenges as varied as battling space squids and brewing the perfect cup of tea.

Inspired by H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, with a winking, sepia-tinged nod to steampunk, 39 Days to Mars has a light-hearted, playful feel. Witty narration, 2D-doodle graphics and a lovely solo piano score add charm and atmosphere.

As Albert and Clarence, you and a friend must work together to solve steampunk-inspired puzzles.

The game is best played sitting side by side with your partner since you each control an onscreen hand, one person using the keyboard, the other with a mouse or trackpad. (The app also supports game controllers.) Solving each conundrum requires careful coordination. For example, in one of the first activities in the game, you attempt to reassemble a torn-up map by grabbing and rotating the pieces and lining up edges. Teamwork is essential!

Other puzzles involve figuring out how to operate wildly inventive contraptions: Rube Goldberg–style assemblies of gears, wires and assorted bric-a-brac. Each puzzle emphasises a different skill, such as coordination, timing or memory.

As in real life, making a quality scone is an enigma.

Single-player mode replaces your friend with a computer-controlled cat that follows you as you explore, ceding control of its paw when the time comes to solve a puzzle. But the coordination required to pull this off single-handedly is challenging to master, making it clear why the game suggests two players at the start.

39 Days to Mars certainly won’t take you 39 days to finish. Once you and a friend get the synchronicity and rhythm of the game’s mechanics down, you should be able to make it through the journey in a few hours. But what a grand few hours it will be!

    39 Days to Mars

    Games

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