39 days to mars

39 Days to Mars review

39 Days to Mars is a mix of puzzles and action sequences by Anecdotal. You play as Sir Albert Wickes and The Right Honourable Clarence Baxter. It’s really a two-player game, but you can play it on your own where you control Wickes and his pet dog. The two 19th century explorers have been chosen to pilot the HMS Fearful on its maiden voyage to Mars. This spaceship is the pinnacle of Victorian engineering, designed by the brightest minds of the age. However, Albert and Baxter are not the brightest anything and are both eminently unqualified to be piloting a spaceship. Chaos ensues and it’s down to you to fix things.

The art style draws you in with pure whimsy

It’s clear just looking at screenshots that 39 Days to Mars will go down as one of my favourite looking games I’ve played. There’s nothing overly fancy about it and the colour scheme is almost non-existent. Really though, that’s all part of its charm.  There are some major drawbacks though which disappoint.

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The Game

39 Days to Mars begins on Earth, where you are tasked with solving various puzzles like constructing a map and using a rather elaborate fishing tactic to grab a key. It’s a good little introduction into what is in store for you when the game actually kicks in properly – when you enter your spaceship. I’m not really sure it can be called a spaceship, but whatever. To solve the various puzzles, players must work together to complete challenges. Or if you’re playing solo, use the mouse and keyboard to control two characters in order to complete challenges. It’s meant to be best as a co-op game, but on solo, you have complete control over what is happening. With a friend, however, there’s that danger that if you’re not in sync then failure is inevitable.

The puzzles in 39 Days to Mars are fairly ingenious, with no two challenges the same. Other than making Albert and Clarence different levels of tea between puzzles. And really, this is the game’s downfall for me.

The tea making is tedious. It’s funny that even though a boiler has blown up and the ship will start descending soon, there’s still time for a cup of tea between friends. It’s this kind of whimsy that makes 39 Days to Mars such entertaining. But that’s where the tea making charm ends. The first two times were fun. After that, and after easily ruining a cup, you have to keep going at making a cup of tea until you get it right. Every time is different. You could fail at making a sugary warm cup of tea and think you’ll get it right next time. You can’t continue until they’ve had a blasted cup of tea. But then their tea requirements change. It’s tedious and the funny part of it becomes annoying. You just want to move on to actually fixing your ship and working on a good puzzle.

39 days to mars 2

Look & Sound

The hand-drawn art is absolutely wonderful. Just look at the screenshots in this review. How can you not like that? The puzzles have a similar design aesthetic that really shows a lot of thought and creativity going into the designs of everything. The small amount of commentary is witty and will draw a smile.

The voice-over work is brilliant and goes perfectly with the art style. The music is whimsical as you’d expect considering everything else. It’s surprisingly relaxing when you have everything falling apart around you. It’s a perfect match really. 

Length & Replayability

The game is relatively short. It can be easily completed within 2 hours.

On replaying though there are some differences with the spacecraft. It’s laid out differently. It adds a little replay value by mixing things up a little bit, but sadly that’s where replayability ends. The puzzles are essentially the same every time, as is the functionality of each room. So this randomisation in the layout doesn’t change much to the gameplay. It is nice that some thought went into it though to offer something a bit different if you play it again. Given that the game is “best-played as co-op”, there’s replayability there as well. Complete it on your own and complete it with some friends.

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There are achievements to get, but it’ll be a slog to get them all. It’ll take a fair few runs to get them all. If you have the friends to play this with them all then maybe.


There’s a lot to enjoy about 39 Days to Mars, yet equally, there’s enough to disappoint. The length will be a problem for most, as I’d imagine the 2 hours could easily be cut in half with the right friend playing along with you. The look and voiceover work are pure works of art and deserve a lot of praise.

There are some bit drawbacks though, not just with the really short length of the game, but some gameplay aspects. If the tea making doesn’t drive you half-insane then you’ll enjoy the game a lot more. Some of the general gameplay isn’t intuitive. They definitely won’t be for everyone, but once you get the hang of the mechanics you should be fine. Keyboard and mouse are definitely your friends when it comes to this game, although using a gamepad does make it more of a challenge.

I give 39 Days to Mars a 6/10 for the looks, voiceover and some pretty fun puzzles. I just wish there was more and to never have to make a cup of tea in a game again.

If you like puzzle games, check out our review for Badland: Game Of The Year or Aspire: Ina’s Tale. Both are fantastic games.

A code was kindly provided for us to review this.

We Score This Game

rating score: 6


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