Back in 2020, I reviewed a game called “Per Aspera” (Steam Page) that I’ve been quite excited about. It’s a lovely title where you terraform Mars and make it livable by various means. The voice acting is stellar, the story is compelling and interesting, the base building and colony sim mechanics are satisfying, but the game had a lot of issues back then:
My key issues with the game were:
- Priority Levels
- Drones would at times do nothing even though priorities were set for specific builds.
- RTS-style mechanics
- At times your base gets attacked and you’re able to build these towers to defend your base. You can create drones at a drone factory but it didn’t seem like you could actually control the drones.
- Lack of Terraforming Options
- Not being able to terraform mountains or lakes, moving terrain or removing it felt a bit hard to deal with.
- Similar to same start to every colony
- I found it a bit hard to feel excited about new colonies or new extra bases being started as the starting process is incredibly similar.
- Unclear UI:
- The UI is minimalistic and doesn’t offer enough information on issues your base has.
So, while I had those issues at the time and in the process didn’t recommend the game, at the time, I recently revisited Per Aspera and wanted to check if the game got updated enough to potentially be recommended again. Hence, I’ll go down the issues. If you want to read the review from at the time, I added some “Edit: …” notes here and there but the post is still the same as before, essentially. There will be a note at the end and beginning of the post regarding this post here. Either way:
After revisiting the game, the priorities seem to work a lot better. Planning ahead at times can help a lot with preventing the issue the first time but most of the time, it actually seems to not be an issue with the priorities themselves but rather with maintenance and certain supply lines being faulted, which I previously thought was an issue with priorities when it, in reality, had to do with traffic, power, demands, supply, etc. Still, the game received a few patches in whose this issue has been touched upon and I’m satisfied with how little that seems to impact the game.
The game isn’t an RTS game but it has some mechanics in it where your base gets attacked by an unknown force. To prevent that/defend your base, you build Drone Factories and Drone Hives that allow you to fight off the invaders. By selecting the armies in the military view, you can essentially control them manually, sending them off on recon missions, to fight off enemies or even destroy their base. After realising that the controls were displayed somewhere else, it got a lot easier. Right-clicking felt unintuitive for the controls but I got used to it. Originally, I may have either completely missed that or it wasn’t there in the first place. A proper tutorial would have probably been missing at the time but after revisiting, it seems to be fixed? Again, I’m not sure if it was added later or if the controls were always displayed and I just glanced over them. Either way, the RTS aspect of Per Aspera is pretty fun actually and allows you to display different levels of aggression, which is nice!
Lack of Terraforming Options:
The game still doesn’t seem to offer any viable options to terraform lakes that are flooding your areas or mountains that block your paths – but I found it to be another challenge to deal with those and not necessarily an annoyance. Hence, I think it’s intended game design and not much of a flaw upon revisiting it.
The same start to every colony:
This is still the case. It’s always the same dialogue. It’s always similar ore locations. But I don’t think it’s too much of an issue if the beginning is the same. In hindsight, this may have been too nitpicky.
The issue with the UI is that it’s very minimalistic and it at times can get overwhelming when issues occur and you don’t know where to look for them. Notifications pop up on the bottom right corner but you don’t get notified. They just pop up and I would expect it to be more visible, for instance. But on top of that, it’s a bit hard to find the important information in your UI and it’s quite annoying when you miss something important just because of how minimalistic everything is. It look slick but it still doesn’t convey enough information, for my taste.
Overall, the game has improved and a lot of the issues that I was initially facing have been resolved. The UI can still be hard to deal with and the extra terraforming options for the landscape would be nice to have but overall, the game is pretty great and I’ll have to turn my “Not Recommended” verdict into a “Recommended” as Per Aspera seems to have improved after revisiting it. Per Aspera lets you experience what it means when someone says “Per Aspera Ad Astra” or “Through Hardships to the Stars”. The game is hard but rewarding and it feels great to see the red planet turn into an actual habitable planet that humans can have a nice time on. Hence, I recommend the game!