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Tropico dev’s new game set on Mars, will be published by Paradox

Totalitarian city-building experts aim high

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Haemimont Games, independent developers of the totalitarian city-building series Tropico, have announced their next project. Surviving Mars is described as a “management strategy game” and will be published by Paradox Interactive. Like Tropico 5, the game is destined for multiple platforms including Linux, Mac and Windows PC as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

“The new game challenges players to plan and build a functioning colony on Mars,” said Paradox in a press release, “balancing inhabitants’ basic survival needs with sanity and quality of life, all while dealing with the hostile environment of the red planet.”

“We feel that strategy and management games are at their best when they let the player experience the unique story being told by their decisions, and Surviving Mars is going to have that in a big way,” said Gabriel Dobrev, Haemimont’s CEO. “Your colonists aren’t just working to improve production, they’re struggling to survive, and their conflicts and concerns are intense. Surviving Mars lets you understand what your colonists are dealing with on an individual level, and coming up with creative plans for those needs will be a new challenge for our fans.”

A trailer that accompanied the announcement has a mixed tone. The English-language voiceover is stoic, even somber at times, while the autonomous robots crawling over the surface of the red planet are rendered playfully. In the final moments, a pair of bumbling astronauts puzzle over a set of instructions for building a surface installation.

The game’s tagline reads, “Colonize mars and discover her secrets, with minimal casualties.”

Haemimont’s recent entry into the long-running city-building series, Tropico 5, received mixed reviews from critics, and sits at an average of 75 on Metacritic. Polygon’s review noted that it was functional and at times fun to play, but that its attempts at humor were tone deaf, verging on exploitative.

From that review: “There's an undeniable tension between the player, in the role of The Dictator, and the citizens. Tropico 5 fails to reconcile that conflict in a mature way, missing its shot at changing the series from a thoughtless getaway to a memorable, meaningful trip.”

“We’ve wanted to work with Haemimont Games for years, and it looks like the stars have finally aligned,” said Paradox Interactive CEO Fredrik Wester. “Expanding our management-strategy catalog has been something we’ve wanted to do for some time, after the successful launch of Cities: Skylines and building the player community around that genre. Finding a developer who shares our core design tenets is always gratifying, but with Haemimont and Surviving Mars we’re going to be giving our players a new experience that’s uniquely their own, and I’m looking forward to hearing the tales of triumph and catastrophe from our community.”

Surviving Mars’ date is listed on Steam as some time in 2018.

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