Have you ever wondered what it would be like to establish and manage a human colony on Mars? If so, you’ll love Surviving Mars, a popular city-builder/survival game from Haemimont Games. In Surviving Mars, you control a team of astronauts trying to establish a permanent settlement on the Red Planet. You’ll need to manage resources, build habitats and infrastructure, research new technologies, and make sure your colonists can survive the harsh Martian environment. It’s an addictive, challenging experience.
If you’ve exhausted everything Surviving Mars has to offer, here are 9 other great games to try that capture a similar vibe. Each offers its own twist on survival, exploration and colony management. Let’s dive in!
About Surviving Mars Gameplay
Before jumping into the alternatives, here’s a quick primer on what makes Surviving Mars so much fun:
- Sandbox-style open world – Explore and colonize Mars however you see fit. There’s no set story or linear missions. Just see how long you can survive!
- Colony simulation – Manage resources and build a livable habitat, including oxygen, water, food production, energy, manufacturing, research and more.
- Survival elements – Mars’ harsh environment provides constant challenges. Colonists have needs that must be met to avoid disasters.
- Expansive research tree – Unlock new technologies and buildings to improve life for your colonists. Specialize domes for different purposes.
- Mystery locations – Anomalies hide secrets and narrative surprises to uncover as you explore the planet.
- Robust systems – Complex, intertwining systems related to colonist behavior, resources, morale and more make this a deep, rewarding challenge.
With the basics covered, let’s look at 9 other engrossing base/colony builders with strong survival elements inspired by the addictive gameplay of Surviving Mars.
9 Best Surviving Mars Similar Games
1. Settlement Survival
Settlement Survival from Clockwork Origins tosses you straight into the wilderness to fend for yourself. This entry takes the survival aspect up a notch, with more of a focus on crafting, exploration and combat versus city-building. But establishing your settlement is still key to progressing.
Some key features:
- Open world survival – Freely explore, but beware of dangerous creatures. Craft weapons to defend yourself.
- NPC settlement – Provide food, housing and items to attract more settlers. They offer services in return.
- Day/night cycle – Take shelter at night when deadlier creatures emerge. Manage needs like hunger, thirst and rest.
- Procedural maps – Randomly generated worlds provide new challenges each game.
With more action and combat than Surviving Mars, Settlement Survival will appeal to players who want to focus more on exploration versus base-building. And its grittier survival elements make it more difficult. But it still scratches the itch if you enjoy establishing your own colony, attracting new settlers, and managing resources.
Developer: Clockwork Origins
Release Date: 2021
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Banished, developed by Shining Rock Software, adopts a more medieval setting. Rather than colonizing Mars, you’re charged with shepherding a group of exiles trying to build a new home. This one also focuses more heavily on survival management versus city planning and expansion.
Why you’ll like it:
- Challenging survival focus – Manage resources like food, tools, clothing and shelter. Prioritize needs carefully.
- Medieval themes – Forage, mine, farm, and grow your settlement from the ground up. Unlock new technologies over time.
- Micromanagement – Control individual settlers and determine the jobs they prioritize. Specialization is key.
- Self-sufficiency – Everything must be produced locally within your settlement. Trade and exploration are extremely limited.
Banished provides a refreshing change of setting from the sci-fi futurism of Surviving Mars. And the heavy survival focus and micromanagement require sharp resource management skills to grow your fragile settlement. You’ll be scraping to survive, which provides a major challenge for veterans of the genre.
Developer: Shining Rock Software
Release Date: 2014
Platforms: PC, Xbox One
3. Cities in Motion 2
Cities in Motion 2 from Colossal Order switches gears from colony management to public transportation construction. How well can you design and manage the transit infrastructure for a major metropolitan area?
It has strong appeal for players who enjoy the city planning and resource management aspects of games like Surviving Mars but want a unique real-world twist:
- Transportation focus – Design subway, bus, tram and other transport systems to move people efficiently around the city.
- Realistic cities – Includes accurate maps of major world cities like Berlin, Vienna and Helsinki to master.
- Advanced systems – Manage routes, vehicles, schedules, budgets, policies and more. Deal with traffic jams, accidents and other events.
- Sandbox mode – Also includes more free-form scenarios just focused on creative network design without monetary pressures.
Cities in Motion 2 indulges the logistical and planning parts of your brain. Establishing efficient transportation infrastructure can get surprisingly complex, providing hundreds of hours of engaging gameplay.
Developer: Colossal Order
Release Date: 2013
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
For a darker, more apocalyptic twist, Frostpunk from 11 bit studios poses huge challenges managing the last city on a frozen Earth. Trying to optimize infrastructure and resource management when society is on the brink of collapse makes for high-stakes, desperate survival gameplay.
Why it stands out:
- Survival focus – Manage heat, food, health and hope for citizens in a freezing environment. Moral choices abound.
- Alternate history – Unique dystopian scenarios like an erupting supervolcano provide the backdrop.
- Society laws – Enact policies related to child labor, health care, food additives and more that impact citizen morale.
- Technology tree – Unlock improvements like heaters, industrial food production, healthcare facilities and more. But resources are always scarce.
Frostpunk provides a melancholy, philosophical take on the society simulation and survival genres. And its stylized art direction and steampunk-inspired technology make for an immersive world. Just don’t expect an uplifting experience – keeping this settlement alive is a major challenge.
Developer: 11 bit studios
Release Date: 2018
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
5. Prison Architect
Prison Architect from Paradox Interactive/Introversion Software brings maximum security prison management to the colony simulation genre. Can you construct an efficient, profitable penitentiary that keeps inmates under control?
- Prison design – Build facilities focused on security, health, work, reform and more. Balance prisoner needs.
- Inmate management – Varied populations require different handling. Monitor behavior to avoid riots.
- Staff management – Hire guards, cooks, teachers and other staff to keep things running.
- Escape attempts – Plan and react to periodic inmate escape efforts. Upgrade security.
Prison Architect’s darkly humorous tone and moral dilemmas make it a memorable, challenging spin on building and management simulators. How will you choose to run your prison? With an iron fist or an emphasis on rehabilitation?
Developer: Paradox Interactive/Introversion Software
Release Date: 2015
Platforms: PC, iOS, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
6. Cities: Skylines
Cities: Skylines from Colossal Order is one of the staple city simulation franchises. It lacks the survival elements of games like Surviving Mars, but does a fantastic job on the resource management and infrastructure building that serve as the core of the Mars pioneer fantasy.
- Deep systems – Fine-tuned simulation incorporating traffic, emergency services, pollution, economy and more.
- District planning – Divide your city into specialized zones with policies tailored to each.
- Road building – Flexible network construction tools for optimizing traffic flow.
- Mod support – Robust Steam Workshop integration expands gameplay possibilities.
Cities: Skylines really nails the logistical challenges and joys of crafting efficient cities. Getting that perfect flow and balance across power, water, traffic, pollution and other complex, interdependent systems provides endless hours of absorbing gameplay.
Developer: Colossal Order
Release Date: 2015
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
7. Medieval Dynasty
Medieval Dynasty transports the survival colony format to 10th century Europe. Can you build a thriving medieval settlement and dynasty that stands the test of time?
Why give it a go:
- 1st person immersion – Explore the wilderness, farm, hunt, craft and trade in an engaging medieval world.
- Needs management – Keep your villagers fed, warm, safe and happy through the seasons.
- Quest based – Complete tasks for the local nobility to keep them pleased and earn rewards.
- Settler relationships – Get married. Have children who inherit your legacy.
- Technology tree – Slowly research innovations in construction, farming, toolmaking and more.
Medieval Dynasty creates an incredible sense of time and place paired with engaging survival, relationship building and town management mechanics. Exploring a personal life within a growing medieval settlement brings fresh roleplaying flavor to the colony building experience.
Developer: Render Cube
Release Date: 2020
8. Valhalla Hills
In Valhalla Hills, you’ll work to build the greatest Viking colony under the guidance of Norse gods like Odin and Loki. This one focuses heavily on religion, morale and appealing to the fickle whims of both the gods and your Norse settlers.
Why give it a shot:
- Viking theme – Build traditional structures like longhouses, mead halls and rune stones for your settlers.
- Norse mythology – Gods reward you for acts like holding feasts but have expectations to keep happy.
- Settler beliefs – Build temples and shrines. Make decisions based on appeasing settler faith.
- Afterlife goals – Impress the gods and most settlers get a ticket to Valhalla when they die!
The mythological elements and nods to Viking culture make Valhalla Hills stand out. Providing coffers of gold to the gods at just the right times can be the difference between success or failure. But forging a prosperous settlement is still at the core.
Release Date: 2015
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
9. Caesar III
The classic city building game Caesar III from Impressions Games still holds up today. As an advisor to Julius Caesar, your goal is helping newly conquered provinces thrive under Roman rule. Build monuments, feed the people, provide entertainment and more to create prosperous civilizations.
Why it’s fun:
- Roman theme – Design classically inspired cities, including critical services like granaries, baths and barracks.
- Challenging campaigns – Scenarios pose unique geographical and resource challenges.
- Needs management – Balance desires like food, employment, religion, culture and more.
- Freeplay mode – The open Sandbox mode provides pure creation for your Roman paradise.
Caesar III is showing its age, but still shines in the tight, focused city building experience it provides. The Roman aesthetic paired with strong resource management challenges make it a classic.
Developer: Impressions Games
Release Date: 1998
Surviving Mars delivers an addictive blend of colony management, survival gameplay and sci-fi optimism about humanity’s future on other worlds. But it’s far from the only immersive base/city builder out there if you enjoy thoughtful resource planning and watching a small settlement grow into something grander.
Each of these games similar to Surviving Mars brings unique twists that provide fresh challenges for veterans of the genre. Whether it’s protecting villagers from monsters, designing transit networks, or appeasing mythological gods, they all capture a similar spirit of advancement in their own way.
So try out some of these highly-rated titles if you’ve exhausted everything Surviving Mars has to offer and need a new colonization fix! You’re sure to log hundreds more hours establishing new civilizations, managing resources and guiding settlers to prosperity in these engaging, well-designed games like Surviving Mars. Let me know if you have any other great suggestions as well.
Frequently Asked Questions about Surviving Mars
How do I get more colonists?
Build new domes or living complexes, and ensure you have enough food, oxygen, water and services to support more settlers. The Founder stage lets you order pod drops, while later Sponsorship and Space Elevator stages provide faster influxes of new colonists.
Why is morale low?
Check that “needs” like exercise, social, shopping and luxury are being met. Build recreation buildings, parks, diners and art/culture providers. Make sure colonists have a good work-life balance and varied shifts.
How do I earn funding?
Complete tangible milestones like building farms, domes and factories. Export rare metals. Attract new colonists. Researching technologies can also provide funding.
Why are my drone batteries depleted?
Drones drain battery servicing buildings far from hubs. Build more Drone Hubs evenly around the settlement for shorter trips. Research improved battery efficiency.
How do I stop freezing cold waves?
Research heaters to warm domes during cold waves. Build power plants and batteries to ensure consistent energy. Use insulated pipes to prevent heating losses.
Why can’t I build over concrete deposits?
Concrete deposits need open space above them to collect. Avoid building on top. Instead place buildings beside and connect with passages.
How do I safely handle waste rock?
Store waste rock in designated underground repositories with lots of ventilation to avoid chemical leaks seeping up into buildings. Research waste rock processing.
I hope these tips help you establish a thriving colony ready for whatever challenges Mars throws your way. Let me know if you have any other questions related to the list of Surviving Mars alternatives!