Tharsis Review

Written by Jake Tucker

January 18, 2016 // 10:20 a.m.

Tags: #roguelike #space

Companies: #choice-provisions #ftl #indie

Tharsis Review Tharsis review

With the way you move the dice around in the game world and slot them into different tracks to do different things, it often feels like it could /be/ a board game, having more in common with Dwarves in a Submarine simulator Red November https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/36946/red-november than gaming relatives FTL and Out There

The game shares some DNA with the Souls games in the way that it dresses up essential information and leaves it for you to discover, rather than informing you in the scant tutorial - you'll need food for the journey but it won't tell you you're supposed to harvest it, tucking away invaluable information behind a "Just roll the dice and it'll be easy" prompt.

The first time I got to Mars, on my 8th attempt, the game told me on the final turn with a smirk that I needed to get to the pilot module to actually land. Both of my beleaguered survivors were working on the ship's engines, desperately trying to keep the ship from breaking up. Moving through a disaster area costs a point of health and my injured specialist wasn't going to be able to dash through the main hallway of the ship while everything was exploding to make her escape.

Tharsis Review Tharsis review

Unable to land and without the fuel to orbit, the mission was a failure and my crew was doomed to starve to death. Again.

I didn't get that far again until my 22nd attempt, a deliberate suicide mission for all but one of my crew, the plucky commander that, when danger reared it's ugly head, buggered off to the front of the spaceship and detached, leaving her colleagues to their fate - but this didn't matter, I'd beaten it. I was the game's master now.

Then I saw I'd unlocked hard mode.

Once you've waddled your way up the vertical slope the game calls a learning curve there's a fascinating game with tons of systems to get to grips with and a wealth of both options and methods of self-destruction.

I wasn't expecting much when I loaded Tharsis for the first time, but within an hour of play I felt compelled to see the game through to the bitter end. I was so excited to talk about how interesting it was that I pushed back another of my reviews (tinyBuilds Punch Club, review towards the end of the week) to enthuse about it.

If there's one complaint I have of Tharsis it's that it's too hard. While I haven't tried hard mode I'm expecting it to come out of my PC and punch me in the face several times.

I'd recommend it wholeheartedly though - it's an interesting game of risk and reward and it's a fascinating journey into space. Tharsis gets my first ever Recommended award. Exciting.
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