Super Motherload is a curious beast. With my wife beside me with a slightly perplexed look on her face asking “is that all you do? Dig?” I found it hard to come up with an answer that would counter that statement. The fact is, yes, all you do is dig for around 90% of this game. So why, when that question was asked and the inevitable realisation dawned, was I still playing this game.
But lets start at the beginning, Super Motherload puts you in the cockpit of a freelance excavator, enticed to Mars by the Solarus Corporation to make your fortune harvesting the rare and precious materials resting far beneath the surface. Extracting these metals and minerals and returning them to the surface for processing rewards you with cash, which you can use to upgrade your rig allowing you to dig longer, deeper and carry more resources. This makes up the crux of your progression in this title. One of the first and most essential purchase is the foundry. With it, you can combine materials by collecting them in a specific order to make more valuable resources; Bronzium & Silverium make Sterling Silver; Sterling Silver & Goldium makes White Gold; Explodium & Unobtainium (Love The Core reference) makes a Nuke.
As you dig deeper into the heart of the planet you will receive transmissions from outposts established by the Solarus Corporation where numerous events are unfolding that defy explanation. These snippets are unveiled periodically and their interruption in the monotony of your work brings a level of intrigue and plot into proceedings.
Explosives play a big part of the game, whether it is in solving one of the myriad of puzzles buried deep beneath Mars surface or making navigation between your latest drilling depth and your home base a good supply of bombs must be on hand at all times. Navigating the environment is made all the easier using TNT to carve out 2×2 squares, C4 for 5×5 squares and Shaft Bombs to drill a hole horizontally.
Playable characters are unlocked through in game actions, and each have their own personal benefits that make their job of mining mars that much simpler. These characters and their upgrades are persistent and will follow you through every playthrough, making it easier to navigate to the core of the planet with each successive attempt and its obvious that this game is designed to be played through multiple times.
The core ethos in Super Motherload is to micro-manage. Keeping tabs of your armour, fuel levels, bomb stocks, carrying capacity as well as your path back to base is key to success in Super Motherload. Dig too deep or too erratically and you might run out of fuel before you make it back, rendering your time wasted and your resources lost.
Graphically, this sequel to X-Gen Studios smash hit flash game has had a much needed new veneer and a shine applied but sadly the audio has not. The repetitive nature of the gameplay can only be outdone by the droning electro pop soundtrack looping over and over.
Its redemption, for me, lies in its co-op mode. I had the fortune to get an early play of Super Motherload at a Game Lock in event just before the PS4 release, and my son and I had a blast competing to see who could earn the most money in our 20 minute play. This pick up and play co-op competitive gameplay is thoroughly enjoyable.
Super Motherload is the first of many indie titles making an appearance on the PS4, and I cant help but feel that for a day 1 game it’s a bit of a double edged sword. With its niche appeal it could turn many of those unfamiliar with the indie scene off of purchasing less well known titles, but at the same time there are those out there who may buy into the alternative games off its back. Only time will tell.
Sadly, this game never hit the right beats for me, but I can fully understand the appeal that it could hold for others. If you are a fan of the original game, have a distinct case of OCD or if you enjoy the micromanagement inherent in this game type, you can get a lot of enjoyment out of this title.
MLG Rating: 6/10 Format: PlayStation 3 / Playstation 4 / PC / Mac Release Date: 29/11/13 (PC/Mac TBC 2014)
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Super Motherload for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of a week on the Playstation 4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.