I was half-expecting Lacuna Passage to be an actual place on Mars. Hence the added link above, with a high-res map of the Red Planet itself. I must confess, I’m a huge fan of anything Mars-related. Seen most, if not all movies which featured the fourth planet from the Sun. But Lacuna Passage is a fictional place and the word “lacuna” is a fancier term for “gap”. Plenty of procedurally generated gaps in the game I’m previewing today. You know what’s truly missing though? The storyline. To their credit, the dev team acknowledges this while promising that in a future update, players will be able to uncover astronaut Jessica Rainer’s story and help her survive a failed mission to Mars, from which she’s the sole survivor.
Lacuna Passage is a beautiful simulation, that much cannot be contested. From the aforementioned landscapes, to the man-made structures, it’s all skillfully textured and the insides of the Habitats show great attention to detail. A bit of wear & tear would increase the immersion even further. These are abandoned/rarely used assets after all. They shouldn’t look as if they’ve just been unpacked and assembled. Mars itself is known for its fierce, planet-encircling dust storms.
Overall, I took 45 Lacuna Passage screenshots of which I’m proud to add to my wallpaper collection. You just have to look close enough and you’ll realize that even random rock formations can offer the right conditions for a superb picture. Speaking of which, the game has its built-in gameplay mechanic about taking pictures and using them for future technical reference. Be sure to get acquainted to the control scheme and the astronaut’s best friend: a rugged tablet.
So what can you actually do in this game and not feel way too lonely? The Sandbox Mode is currently available and offering sufficient activities to avoid boredom. You can keep yourself busy by constantly repairing the equipment which ultimately ensures your survival. The crafting and repairing sections are simulated quite in-depth, with options for initial diagnostics in order to troubleshoot the issue, reading the part’s manual (don’t skip this under any circumstance) and finally remove (and salvage) or fix the component by case. No one said that life on Mars would be easy, but fixing the auxiliary systems near the Habs, will be the least of your in-game worries.
A lot more challenging, shall be the exploration of derelict Habitats and supply caches, which are required for sustained nourishment. Unlike some movies about the Red Planet, you can’t grow your own food in Lacuna Passage. No miraculous crop of space potatoes this time around. Just some “delicious” sealed packs containing dried fruit or nuts which would make even canned dog food seem like a gourmet alternative. At least water, heat, oxygen and electricity are renewable resources and you can rest (and save game progress) while sleeping inside one of the Hab’s many bunk beds. A shower unit is present, but you cannot interact with it. Lots of potential for expansion, if the Habitat shall receive even more attention from the developer.