In the 21st century scientist discover that an asteroid called Vulcan's Hammer is heading for Earth. Due to its size and trajectory it is almost certain that it will destroy Earth. In a last ditch attempt humanity attempts to fire a nuclear missile at the asteroid. This only results it being split into two, saving the Earth from destruction, but resulting in the extinction of life on the entire planet. Since the space program has been taken over by huge corporations due to the government budget cuts, only one company builds a spaceship that can hold 200 colonists in search of a new home among the stars.
Once the player arrives on the new planet, half of the colonists split off to form a splinter group and take half of the supplies to build their own colony.
At the beginning of the game the player decides what kind of cargo they will be taking on their starship. These choices early on will dictate early game advantages. One could take a lot of probes with them and get a better impression of the planet they are landing on, but they will have fewer resources to start their colony with.
When the player has decided their cargo loadout they are able to select a star system to send an interstellar probe out to. The player has very little information about the habitability of the planets in the star systems and it is possible to end up going to a planet on which it is very hard to survive.
Once the player is planetside the game is played from an isometric perspective, similiar to games like SimCity 2000, with the difference being that it is turn-based. During these turns the player must mine resources and construct buildings. It is possible to build buildings above ground and underground. Top-level structures are mostly industrial, while the subterranean buildings are residential and commercial venues.
There are two objectives that lead to succesful ending: Either the player succesfully terraforms the planet into an Earth-like environment or launches a spaceship in the search for yet another planet to colonize.
- A lead designer on the project was a former NASA scientist.
- The music during the game is the Mars, Bringer of War movement of Gustav Holst's orchestral suite The Planets.