Top Critic Average
Tharsis is well made, but not well designed—an attractive, interesting board game idea, but only the first draft.
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 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.