Per Aspera is a management simulation that reminds me of Surviving Mars in a lot of ways. It is rather engaging through self-reflection and regular engagement with other characters. The longer I played, the more I wanted to find out more. And like most games published by Raw Fury, I genuinely enjoy this title.
You play an AMI who is tasked with a mission to terraform Mars by the ISA. The objective is to prepare the planet for human colonization but you learn that this has been tried before.
Players must first build a few structures before the planet is habitable enough to sustain human life. The first of these tasks is to raise the planet’s core temperature to -50 degrees or higher. Successfully accomplishing this task will melt ice caps that will create pools of water. Like any game that terraforms planets to suit human survival, it isn’t without consequence.
As players unlock more buildings and upgrades through the tech tree, they will be able to progress the story. In Per Aspera, players will receive communications from Nathan Foster and Dr. Elya Valentine. These characters will call you at regular intervals to give status reports or valuable insight about your mission. As time progresses, an anomaly disrupts your power grid. This is when players discover that they are not alone. I lost several buildings from a couple of attack waves because I wasn’t prepared for the assault. (Whoops!) That said, the combat is an afterthought. Don’t expect a Civilization battle style.
Yeah. Needless to say, I’m invested in Per Aspera.
Per Aspera Graphics and UI
For a colony management game, I’m surprised at how clean Per Aspera looks. Right from the beginning of the game, players can see what resources are available to them. The resource bar expands after new technology is researched. At a glance, players can see all of the information they need about their colony without looking through menus. Though I do wish the information was displayed separately if there are multiple unconnected grids.
Of course, no colony management game is complete without nifty information screens. Per Aspera displays vital information through a couple of different overlays. Players are able to click on one of the F keys (or buttons at the top) to display information about the traffic, electricity, or maintenance levels of the colony.
I also really liked the orbital view for a couple of reasons. The first is that players can still see their colony information because it doesn’t disappear. The second part that I like is just the ability to see sectors clearly. From the orbital view, players are also able to see incoming or outgoing shuttles filled with colonists.
Overall, I like the sleek design in the graphics regardless of if they are on the planet or in orbit. It is designed with user-friendliness in mind. Not only that but it manages to feel like a science-fiction world in its simplicity.
Voice Acting and Audio
I was surprised to learn of the voice acting talent in Per Aspera. Most people know Troy Baker but, for those who don’t know his work, check out this link. Of his massive list of credits is Joel from The Last of Us Part II and Bruce Banner in Marvel’s Avengers. In Per Aspera, he is Nathan Foster, the main liaison between Mars and Earth.
There are other notable names like Laila Berzins who voices AMI, the A.I. that you play. She also voices Xiao of Genshin Impact as well as Demeter / Persephone in Hades.
Phil LaMarr is a legendary voice actor known for his work on Mad TV, Harley Quinn, Rick and Morty, and Futurama. His portfolio of works can be found here. He plays Lieutenant Calderon, the ISA’s Chief Technologist.
The biggest shock for me was YongYea, a YouTube content creator that covers gaming news, reviews, and discussions. While many know him through YouTube with 1.5 million subscribers or his 100k followers on Twitter, he has a fledgling list of acting credits. In Per Aspera, YongYea voices the character Nian Zhen, a wealthy businessman. Among his other credits are Loki in Rune II and Ven in Warframe: Proteus.
Lynsey Murrell is an actress with a couple of voice acting credits. She plays Dr. Elya Valentine, the first colonist leader, with whom you frequently interact. Lynsey also plays roles in Undergods but according to this Steam page, she will be voicing a character in the upcoming Baldur’s Gate!
Nneka Okoye voices Sonna Valentine, the daughter of Dr. Elya Valentine. Neeka is known for multiple roles in TV series like The A List and Defending the Guilty. She has recently voiced a couple of characters in the game Beyond a Steel Sky.
Pros and Cons
- Per Aspera is good at engaging players with AMI’s self-reflection dialogue and regular communications with other characters.
- The tutorial doesn’t barrage players with too much. It releases buildings gradually for players to use.
- The foreign creatures attacking create a good sense of urgency for the overall mission.
- There is no display to show separate landing sites.
- Sometimes gameplay is a bit sluggish when in the mid-game.
- Upgrading individual connections between buildings is cumbersome. We don’t need *that* much micromanagement.
- I personally disliked using the orbital view to assign a task to a spaceport.
- I would love to start with more than one drone. The beginning took a while.
Per Aspera is a fantastically designed game and I loved everything from the graphics to the music to the overlays. While the gameplay sometimes felt sluggish (even at 8 times speed), there’s a sense of urgency. I found myself blissfully unaware of the passage of time. Because of the intriguing story, smooth graphics, and masterful voice acting, Per Aspera is leagues ahead of other games in this genre. It’s not without its flaws, but in my opinion, this game is worth the price.