It's time to virtually race to space at the head of a space agency — your choice of the European Space Agency, United States, Russia and more.
Space.com got an exclusive look at "Mars Horizon," a space agency simulator game, which is available for free on Steam today (Oct. 7) as part of the Steam Game Festival. The offer ends Oct. 13 and comes just in time for World Space Week which ends Saturday (Oct. 10).
You can build your own space program to explore the solar system, starting with launching short trips to space and then progressing through milestones such as launching to the moon. In addition to ESA, the U.S. and Russia, space agencies for China and Japan are also available, according to a new gameplay trailer released today by Auroch Digital and The Irregular Corporation.
You'll also need to think critically about your "soft skills" and about balancing vehicle risk and reality. Would you rather bring up fears of UFOs, or say that there is no firm evidence of aliens? Should you rally your audience with a challenge to go to the moon, just like John F. Kennedy did repeatedly in the early 1960s? The choice is yours (and a previous Space.com article talks about what choices we made!)
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"In Mars Horizon, players take control of their very own space agency as they build their base, design rockets, schedule launches, and run mission control with the end goal of touching down on the surface of Mars," the development team said in a statement.
"Players will have to manage the resources of time, science, public support and — of course — funds, as they work to complete missions and send their astronauts into space. Players will also contend with other rival agencies who have the same goal, and can choose to work together with them or venture out on their own."
The game focuses more on the space agency management side of things and is less into physical realism of space missions (such as working with orbits) than the popular game "Kerbal Space Program," allowing you to experience a different side of the space world as you build up a space agency's activities.
If you don't have access to Steam or prefer playing on other consoles, "Mars Horizon" will be launching on other platforms shortly. The game will be available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this fall, at a time to be announced.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.