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Video Game / Mars: War Logs

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Mars: War Logs is a cyberpunk/space opera Western RPG developed by Spiders and published by Focus Home Interactive for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2013. Two centuries after the colonization of Mars, an event known as The Turmoil destroys much of the progress humanity has made in taming the red planet’s harsh landscape, ushering in a new Dark Age. Seventy years later, two of the surviving city states, Aurora and Abundance, are engaged in a bloody civil war that is exacerbated by greedy corporate interests intent on monopolizing the planet’s water supply. Amidst this backdrop, Auroran POWs Roy Temperance and Innocence Smith plot a daring escape from prison. Upon returning to Aurora, they become embroiled in a power struggle against its power mad dictator.

A sequel, The Technomancer, was released on June 29, 2016. The Technomancer takes place concurrent with the events of Mars War Logs and focuses on an Abundance Technomancer named Zachariah, who is trying to find a way to reestablish contact with Earth while being pursued by Abundance's totalitarian Secret Police.

Mars: War Logs contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The entire War Arc is completely abandoned once Roy and Innocence escape from prison. In the time it takes to get to the city, the war has apparently ended.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Once Roy gets out of prison and performs a few favors for Charity, she gives him Reinforced Leather Armor. It’s like the default costume, only better. You can also upgrade what you’re currently wearing.
  • Apocalypse How: Mars has suffered a Class 2 due to an event known as "The Turmoil," leading to the Martian atmosphere being unable to filter out solar radiation. The Technomancer shows that the Turmoil was on the scale of the solar system and Earth suffered a Class X.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Technomancers.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Roy never loses his rugged handsomeness no matter how many times he is shot, stabbed, electrocuted, mauled by feral mutant dogs, or hit with acidic worm spit. Mary wears the tattered remains of her destroyed Technomancer robes very well.
  • Cain and Abel: Devotion is General Grant's loyal sidekick and a key ally, while her brother Generosity is the leader of the Technomancers and the mastermind behind their cruel experiments on Auroran prisoners.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The creatures Martian residents call "dogs" are...not dogs. They look like some sort of cross between canines and beetles. Similarly the creatures referred to as "moles" look a bit mole-like aound the face but otherwise resemble hairless gorillas with large claws. They also have queens and lay eggs.
  • Climax Boss: The boss fight against the gigantic Drilling Worm followed immediately with a fight against the Technomancer leader Generosity serves as the action climax of the game. What follows is a very short level in which you fight 4 sequential groups of Mooks, after which the Big Bad gets disposed of in a cutscene.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Roy. In a fight, he can make use of a variety of weapons with various nasty attachments and is able to toss sand in people's eyes, pull a nailgun for ranged damage and make use of improvised explosives. The Renegade skill tree encourages this behaviour further, allowing further damage to be done with guns, explosives and sneak attacks.
  • Cosmic Deadline: The first chapter is about a Great Escape, the second is an exploration of a ruined Film Noir city in search of La Résistance. The third (and final) chapter is basically an attempt to cram the entire Dune series into seven maps, none of which is bigger than a football field.
  • Crapsack World: Crowded industrial slums, oppressive military regimes, a very high crime rate. The Technomancers (or anyone who stands within five feet of them on a regular basis) don’t have it much easier, see Fridge Horror.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The opening makes it look like Innocence is the protagonist, before Roy makes his grand entrance, relegating Innocence to Morality Pet. Then about two thirds of the way in, he is either Put on a Bus or Killed Off for Real.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Tenacity offers to join your party after you defeat him at the end of Act II, reasoning that if he returns to the Technomancers after losing to you they'll kill him for his failure.
  • Defector from Decadence: Roy is a former Technomancer who fled as a young man due to his distaste for their strict and heavily regulated life.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Much of the game’s promotional material makes it look like Sean Mancer is going to be The Heavy, but he is killed at the end of Act 1.
  • The Dragon: Generosity, the leader of the Technomancers, is this to Big Bad Wisdom Phillips.
  • Dual Boss: The game's final encounter is a fight against a pair of Praetorians (one of whom is the Captain of the Praetorian Guard), who are backed up by several basic soldiers.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • You'll occasionally find Elite Soldiers mixed in with the regular ones; they have slightly more health and gold-colored armor but are otherwise just like the regular Aurora Soldiers.
    • There are the Praetorians, elite Technomancers who serve as Dowser Wisdom's personal bodyguards. A trio of them essentially serve as the Final Boss of the game, including the Captain of the Praetorian Guard.
  • Exact Words: General Grant invokes this on a regular basis.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three skill trees fall into this category; Combat skills are the fighter element, focusing on dealing and resisting damage, Technomancy skills are the magic element and Renegade, due to Roy's Combat Pragmatist tendencies and stealth mode, fall under the thief side of things.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: At the end of the game, if either Honour Grant or Marco becomes the new leader of Aurora, Roy will cynically note that they're likely going to be only somewhat less bad than Wisdom was. The best outcome seems to be to put Judy in charge (by siding with the Resistance rather than Honour, then killing Marco), but even then Roy notes that she lacks the political experience to firmly consolidate power, leaving Aurora's political future up in the air.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The entire war and the descent of Aurora into martial law are all due to the assassination of the previous Dowser by Abundance, leading to General Wisdom Phillips taking his place as Dowser and running Aurora into the ground. In The Technomancer you meet the Abundance leader who most likely gave the order, who also serves as that game's Big Bad.
  • King Mook: The game's "boss" enemies (Sean, Generosity, and the Praetorians) have a couple more advanced spells but otherwise fight just like regular Technomancer enemies, just with somewhat more health. Tenacity, who you fight at the end of Act II, also fights just like a regular enemy; he has significantly higher-than-normal health, but surrenders once you deplete it by about half.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Every single one of your party members other than Innocence will tell you that they think the Resistance is going to cause more problems than they'll solve.
  • Human Resources:
    • Serum, which is essentially drinkable water, serves as the game's currency and the substance you use to create health syringes and Fluid. It can also be extracted from human bodies, killing the person being extracted from. Extracting from defeated enemies will net you more money and healing/restoration items, but will also quickly cause your reputation to drop.
    • The chaos in Aurora turns out to be because the Technomancers are conducting twisted experiments on Auroran citizens in an attempt to find a cure for mutation (Aurora's leader, Wisdom Phillips, is secretly a mutant himself and wants a cure, and The Technomancer reveals that Technomancers themselves are also mutants, and are looking for a way to stabilize/replicate their powers). Their need for more and more test subjects is what's driving the Auroran state crackdown on its citizens.
  • Ironic Name: Generally averted, despite the game's Seven Heavenly Virtues naming convention. Aurora has plenty of assholes, but their vices generally aren't an ironic fit to their virtue name. One character even notes that someone's personality being the opposite of their virtue name has become something of a worn-out joke. There are a few exceptions, though. Notably, the Jack The Rip Off serial killer who targets women is named Gallentry and there's a dirty cop called Integrity.
  • La Résistance: Innocence joins them, and Roy can too.
  • Lost Colony: The planet Mars has become this after losing contact with Earth.
  • Magitek: Roy has to take a special glove from a Technomancer before he can use Technomancy powers. Fluid is used in lieu of MP, but a Technomancer is essentially a mage character build.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Innocence is just a kid who got caught up in the war.
    • Devotion, General Grant's right-hand-woman, embodies My Master, Right or Wrong.
    • Tenacity is a persistent bounty hunter.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Enemies from different factions and monsters from different species will fight each other as well as you.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: All non-human wildlife on Mars appears to be heavily mutated due to exposure to solar radiation.
    • "Dogs" basically have the head and body of a shrimp with the legs and teeth of a canine.
    • "Moles" seem to be man-sized naked mole rats with primate bodies; they're also referred to as "bugs" and seem to be hive creatures with a queen that lays eggs.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members: Judy will only join you if you side with the Resistance, while Devotion will only join you if you side with General Grant.
  • Only Six Faces: Only major characters have unique models. Everyone else, including sidequest NPCs, are pulled from the same limited pool of generic NPC faces.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Roy has overthrown a mad dictator and managed to get a pardon and potentially a girlfriend while he’s at it. However, the new leadership doesn't look much better than the old one, and Innocence is either dead or resents Roy for selling out his ideals.
  • The Power of Legacy: Regardless of who you side with, the game ends with General Grant executing Wisdom before Roy can arrest him. If you sided with the Resistance, Grant simply explains that he wanted to spare his friend the indignity of being torn apart by an angry mob, and everyone takes him at his word. However, if you sided with Grant, you'll learn that Wisdom was a mutant, and Grant killed him to prevent anyone from finding out, as it would seriously tarnish Aurora's reputation.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The game does a lot to show that most of the Abundance prison guards and Aurora soldiers are just regular guys doing a job; in fact quite a lot of the guards in the prison camp are fairly Reasonable Authority Figures.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking:
    • Generosity and the Captain of the Praetorian Guard have about twice as much health as regular Technomancer enemies, and also use more aggressive Technomancer abilities such as Electric Storm. Sean actually isn't noticeably more durable than a regular Technomancer (he has slightly more health but slightly worse armor, which kind of evens out), but does use "boss" Technomancer abilities.
    • Averted with Dowser Wisdom, who despite being a former war hero, is a Non-Action Big Bad who gets executed in a cutscene without a fight... and not even by you. If you choose the Resistance path, he doesn't even get a chance to say anything before being shot in the face.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • General Grant presents himself as this, but he’s actually something else entirely.
    • Most of the guards in the prison camp are just regular guys doing a job (many are conscripts themselves), and generally treat the prisoners reasonably well or at least professionally.
  • Scavenger World: A more organized example than most, but it's definitely there. Cities are made of scrap, and even government soldiers wield improvised weaponry; notably, on Mars real firearms seem to be extremely rare, as everyone is equipped with modified work tools (nailguns).
  • Seven Heavenly Virtues: An Auroran naming convention, which makes Roy, Sean, and Mary stand out a bit. Sean and Mary are from Abundance, and Roy's original name was Temperance (When Roy introduces himself as "Roy", Innocence is confused as that's apparently an unusual name for an Auroran.)
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Mary is the only romance option who ends up staying with Roy after the defeat of the Big Bad. Both Devotion and Judy will have to remain behind due to their political obligations, and in fact if you romance either of them the ending dialogue doesn't even change at all, unlike with Mary.
  • Super Powered Mooks: Enemy Technomancers can use the same powers that you can; unlike you, they have infinite Fluid and thus have no limit to how much they can cast.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: The Technomancer presents Sean as a Reasonable Authority Figure and genuinely heroic mentor to Zachariah. In Mars War Logs, while he does have a Pet the Dog moment with Mary, he's an arrogant jerk to Roy and a Bad Boss to his own men in the prison camp (he threatens to have ten mutants executed for the crime of one, and the guards mention he's fried his own men for unspecified infractions). Mary seems to hint that he was hardened by his experiences in the war (mentioning his fury at his own men for wanting to take liberties with captured female enemy soldiers).
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: A dodge roll serves as your primary dodge move in the game. One skill upgrade increases the range/speed and lets you chain combat rolls together infinitely, allowing you to roll around like Sonic the Hedgehog.