Hunt for alien biosignatures in 'Mars Horizon 2: The Search for Life' on PC

A new Martian gaming adventure will come to PC in 2024.

Mars Horizon 2 will have players search for Red Planet life in this successor to the Kerbal Space Program-like "space race" 2020 adventure Mars Horizon, which had players build virtual rocket programs based on real-life space hardware.

"Reaching Mars is just the beginning as Mars Horizon 2: The Search for Life sends players to the farthest reaches of the solar system on the hunt for evidence of life," game developer Auroch Digital and publisher Secret Mode said in an e-mailed release Tuesday (March 7).

"Players race to make discoveries ahead of rival agencies, using established scientific methodology in tandem with modern and near-future technologies to seek, recover, and analyze alien biosignatures."

Related: Kerbal Space Program 2 is here! Spark joy with exploding rockets

Mars Horizon 2, shown here in pre-release and early footage, will have space gamers explore the Red Planet for life. (Image credit: Auroch Digital and Secret Mode)

Mars Horizon 2, like its predecessor, will have players work on managing a virtual space agency in collaboration or in competition with other groups exploring space. The original game included real-life rocket types and people from space history to enrich the playing experience.

The game has some similarities with Kerbal, which also includes launch campaigns but which focuses on real-life physics. Mars Horizon 2 will be played from the perspective of mission control, however. It aims to allow users to manage staff, build facilities on different planets, design and launch rockets, and "make key decisions in tough narrative events," according to the release. 

Once you find potential evidence of life, you can process that information in a lab after skilling up through a sequence of technology advancements, the release added.

In real life, NASA and the European Space Agency are engaging in a sample return campaign that may bring back evidence of life on Mars as soon as 2033. The Perseverance rover has already collected and stored 10 twin samples of material, one set on the surface of the Red Planet and one inside its belly. The mission calls for Perseverance to deliver its set of samples to an awaiting spacecraft or, if needed, for two fresh fetch helicopters to nab the backup tubes on the surface.

More information about the game's development and release will be forthcoming on Steam and via the Auroch Digital Newsletter in the coming months.

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: