Tharsis can never stop reminding you that you don't have control over its interstellar disaster, just the illusion of it. Every time I watched my ship fall apart, and every time I watched new events propagate across the ship that were completely impossible to stop, I felt like, win-or-lose, Tharsis was having all the fun.
Tharsis is well made, but not well designed—an attractive, interesting board game idea, but only the first draft.
Tharsis is a captivating but sadistic game of chance that puts your fate at the mercy of dice.
I'm sure the punishing difficulty and numerous unfair dice rolls will turn many gamers against Tharsis, and that's perfectly understandable. However, the reward of actually beating the game truly elevates my spirit. I can only hope that the developers will continue the story with another punishing round that occurs on the red planet itself.
Tharsis is a good way to spend 10-30 minutes to see what happens on the next journey. It's a very harsh battle against the unknown, and can be utterly soul-crushing. Perhaps too soul-crushing, actually. Players will, at times, feel so defeated and useless that playing again seems pointless. And maybe that's the point, considering the circumstances. I wouldn't recommend to marathon Tharsis in an attempt to complete its journey, but instead to boot it up every once in a while and hope for the best.
e told, we took a few extra days to finish this review in hopes that we'd beat the "normal" difficulty's 10 rounds even once. As of press time, we've yet to get past round 8. That is a huge asterisk for this game's appeal; the overwhelming role of luck rarely presents a clean feeling that you've accumulated real skill or progress. As a result, you'll quite honestly need at least two dozen sessions before you come to grips with a range of successful strategies, and therefore, the feeling that this isn't just a fancy-looking exercise in just rolling dice and dying. (We're hopeful that the upcoming free "missions" mode will offer these exact kinds of progress morsels, but Choice Provisions hasn't announced when we should expect those to launch.)
Though the mechanics of Tharsis are often exciting and suspenseful, the game ultimately falls short of expectations due to irredeemably punishing dice rolls.
How you feel about Tharsis probably depends on how you feel about board games, soul-crushing challenges, and shorter gaming experiences. If you love tabletop games, repeatedly dying while learning, or heavily micro-managing resources, Tharsis is a worthwhile way to spend an evening.
The thin storyline around it is entirely superfluous, I'll admit to tiring of the spaceship looking identical every single time I play and it's fair to say there's less motivation to keep on going back once you finally beat it, but even if you only get a few days out of it, right now the price is right.
Tharsis has a surprisingly addictive quality, and tabletop fans who want to roll the dice on it should find it well-worth the launching sale price of $9.
If you're a fan of constant raising stakes with no reprieve, then this is certainly the sort of thing that will appeal to you. Even if not, it will still appeal, but in smaller doses. Either way, Tharsis is a compelling, but polarizing, game.
For the board game people, they will find this to be more up their alley. People looking for a more action type experience will have to look elsewhere. If you do decide to pick it up, just keep in mind, it is brutal, unforgiving, and takes a lot of patience to get into. When you do, you may very well find some enjoyment out of it maybe two times out of ten.
A tense, challenging, and addictive strategy game with strong atmosphere, weakened by excessive randomness that too often pushes things past "hard" into "hopeless."
From its toying with morality to the pure ecstasy it provides when defying the odds and having a successful flight, there really isn't anything else like it.
Tharsis, you hate me, but I like you. Your small and meticulous craftsmanship. Your board game sensibilities. Your dancefloor rhythms thumping out the soundtrack to my cyclical death. I couldn't stop myself from voyaging (and dying on the way) to Tharsis again and again.
With a few tweaks and maybe a more casual-friendly difficulty level, Tharsis could be a fun strategy alternative for those who don't enjoy building large kingdoms or waging wars that take hours to complete. In its current state however, Tharsis is little more than a sadistically cruel game of digital roulette.
Its simple rules coupled with the brief length of its rounds make Tharsis very easy to pick up and get addicted to...for a few hours. Unfortunately, so much of its gameplay is reliant on luck, which can make for an incredibly frustrating and unforgiving experience.
There aren't many games like Tharsis and that's the main reason why you should check it out, but what it's able to do with so little will keep you playing it. It may not be for everyone and is at times unforgivingly difficult, but it's a title that has some undeniable charm.
If the thought of losing at a game over and over until you finally understand all of its nuances does not sound like a good time, then you can safely pass on Tharsis. If, however, you love tabletop games, or enjoy the challenge of micro-managing several scarce resources at a time in an almost vain effort against nearly insurmountable odds, then by all means buy Tharsis. There's a great challenge to be had, and some replayability in the form of chasing an ever-higher score by not resorting to cannibalism so easily, taking less damage, and keeping ship morale high, as well as new characters to unlock. This is not a game for everyone, but for those who know what they're getting themselves into, Tharsis is well worth the effort.