This new 'turn-based city builder' challenges you to terraform and colonize Mars

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I was born too late to witness the first Moon landing live, and now I'm wondering if I'll die before I get to see humankind set foot on Mars. But while I continue to tread Our Boring Earth at least I can visit Mars in videogames. A real Mars colony might still be decades away, if it ever happens, but there's plenty of games where you can build one today.

And another one has just appeared on Steam. Farlanders (opens in new tab) is a "retro-inspired turn-based city builder" that's got the gritty look of Factorio and a puzzle-strategy like approach to colonization. 

In Farlanders, you land your ship on Mars and get to work building solar panels to harvest the sun's energy, creating habitats for human settlers, melting ice to create fertile land, and blowing up rocks to create more room for buildings. Choosing where to place each structure is important, as wind turbines will get a bonus from nearby mountains and greenhouses will produce more if they're clustered together.

And you're not just confined to the surface of the planet—beneath the frozen red ground you'll find a huge network of caverns where you can build machinery to extract new resources to put to use. If you're still having trouble making ends meet, there's a trading system, too: you're not alone on Mars so you can swap resources with other off-screen colonies to supply your growing city with whatever it's lacking. Since it's an alien planet, there are naturally some anomalous materials you'll find and have to discover a use for. And each time you start a new game, a new procedural map is generated to mix up the challenge. 

Building is turn-based so you can plan out each move you make before committing to it, whether it's using resources to string powerlines between structures, smashing up rocks and boulders to clear extra space for new buildings, or filling canyons with water to create lakes. That feels like a pretty unusual and novel system for a city building game, and as a fan of cool city builders, I plan to check out Farlanders (opens in new tab) myself soon. 

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.