One of the benefits of being patient when it comes to buying games is that most of the bugs have been worked out through a series of patches. Since its release, Mars War Logs has settled down into a fairly entertaining mid-budget RPG. It still has some weaknesses at its core, but it's good value for the money if you don't expect perfection.
The location is Mars and the background theme is a conflict between two guilds, Aurora and Abundance, both vying for the planet's scarce resources. You play as an Aurora prisoner of war named Roy Temperance who takes Innocence Smith, a young, newly incarcerated Aurora recruit, under his wing. Roy's political affiliations are not entirely cut and he's something of a mystery, but his first order of business is to arrange an escape from Camp 19 and return to Aurora. At first, Roy seems like any other prisoner, but later it comes to light that he has a more specialized background. That specialty is technomancy, which is the ability to combine magic and technology.
Once back in Aurora, Roy finds himself embroiled in internal conflict. There is a swelling Resistance movement against the tyranny of the ruling faction, however the Aurora government is also fighting the Technomancers who are slowly gaining power and influence. As Roy has no love for them, he finds himself caught between defending the people's movement or aiding in the Aurora government's fight against the Technomancers. As usual with choice-based games, picking sides is never straight forward and can have devastating consequences.
As an action RPG, Mars War Logs features character and skill customization. Choices through dialogue also matter and will influence consequences as well as change the availability of additional dialogue options. Throughout, you gain spendable experience points by completing quests and can upgrade three skill trees that offer specialization in their particular fields of stealth, combat or technomancy. Other RPG elements include choosing a romantic partner and AI companions that you can include in some quests.
You can also upgrade weapons and armor through crafting. Items for this can be obtained from looting, from fallen combatants, or from merchants. You can also craft items using a combination of other items. Each weapon and armor piece has specific attributes. In addition there are consumables such as health, ammo and explosives.
With fluid being so precious on Mars, serum is the currency of the game. At one point, you gain a syringe, which allows you to drain fluid from downed combatants. However, this will kill them instantly and lower your reputation. Reputation influences how other game characters see and treat you. Most people have found this mechanic a bit nebulous, confused as to what it takes to raise your standing to "good". Although, I made mostly good choices, my rep never moved from "neutral". It seems to be influenced by many different factors, including how you choose dialogue with your AI partners.
User complaints are often about combat being hard as it is never one on one, but always one on multiples. It does take a bit of learning to master the moves and fighting isn't a walk in the park. When you are with companions, you can pull up a tactics menu to command them to take offensive or defensive measures and you can also use this during battle to change equipment and skills. Time will slow considerably while you do this. Most critics agree that the combat system is one of the best features of the game. The enemies consist of humans as well as various Martian creatures and later you will face other technomancers as well.
As I indicated, Mars War Logs suffers from certain weaknesses and there are things that could have been done better. The companions are fairly useless and one possible main squeeze, Mary, is a stereotypical blond beauty that is a total airhead. The voice acting is of B movie quality and apparently, there are camera problems if using a controller. Controls seem to be better using the keyboard and mouse. There is also some clipping issues and screen jumping when choosing dialogue. Some of the interface mechanics for dealing with items could have been improved such as the ability to sell more than one item at a time.
Although some of this sounds negative, the game is overall not really that bad. It is quite challenging and the story is fairly entertaining and of decent length. Let's just say that everything about the game is not brilliant, but it is okay and well worth what you will likely pay for it these days. I literally sat on the fence for years about buying this game, but it always slightly interested me and so I kept debating about it every Steam sale. It has its supporters and it also has its detractors. On finally playing it, I rather enjoyed it and really can't understand any avid negativity.
However, to be fair, the English version was pretty much a disaster when it was released and much of what you read pertains to this time. It did cause quite a commotion, but this has since been fixed. To my way of thinking, it's now an entertaining mid-budet game, admittedly with weaknesses, but still enjoyable none-the-less. But with all games, it depends on what's important to you. It's not AAA material and does have its downfalls, but it's not bad and now gets a fairly positive rating from Steam users. Critical reception was not so good, but offered praise for what it did accomplish on its small budget.
In 2013, they released their own game Mars War Logs, which received a mixed reception. It was praised for its ambitions to offer an epic RPG on a such a small budget, which in reality, translated into poor implementation of some key features. The game's original language is French and problems arose due to errors in the English translation, which led to less than stellar reviews. As the game had received a good reception in France, Spiders was horrified by reviews of the English version. The submission to console was halted and the huge task of rewriting the game text, dialogue and voice recording was entirely redone and released in an update. Currently, it enjoys a mostly positive rating on Steam as a mid-budget RPG.
Spiders went on to develop their second game, Bound By Flame, which released in 2014. It also received mixed reviews with both games having some positive and negative aspects to the mechanics. A follow-up game of Mars War Logs called The Technomancer is their latest game, released in June of 2016 and unfortunately, it too is in the mixed bracket. Although these Spider games all have weaknesses, many people still find something commendable about them. The studio seems to have ambitions they have not been able to fully realize yet. One of the recurring problems is proper English localization. Given the nuances of RPG dialogue choices, this is a fairly big monetary issue for a small budget studio. So far, many users have been kind, but given the rising price points, I think their next game will have to address some these ongoing issues.