Developed By : Choice Provisions
Published By : QubicGames
Category : Simulation, Strategy
Release Date : Apr 11, 2020
Exploration can be a tricky thing. Whether you have your destination in mind or not, sometimes things go according to plan and other times…not so much. Tharsis on the Nintendo Switch prides itself on taking the path with more issues, forcing you to find out if you have what it takes to overcome the obstacles in your path, or if you’ll crumble and fall to them.
In Tharsis you’ll find yourself in control of an entire crew aboard the vessel Iktomi. Your crew of four is on a 10-week journey to Mars, and will hopefully arrive without any loss of life. However it is far from the perfect journey. Each week the Iktomi will be effected by a wide range of problems that must be fixed or else the ship or even the crew will suffer the consequences.
Fixing things will be left up to the literal roll of dice. Each of your crew members will have some dice on them, a maximum of five. The Iktomi has a number of different modules that make up the vessel as a whole, and when one of these problems arise it will have a number required to repair it. The goal is to roll the dice and use the numbers to meet this repair requirement, but it won’t always be so easy.
All of these disasters will have numbers attached to them that can effect your roll, and there are three effects. Stasis effects mean if you roll the number that matches the stasis number, that die can not be re-rolled at all. Injury means your active character will take that many hits to their health for each die that matches an injury one. Lastly, the void ones mean that die will be removed completely, meaning not only are you unable to re-roll it, you can’t even use it towards the repair.
Repairing modules isn’t the only thing you can do with your dice, there’s also research to undertake, or utilizing the modules themselves. The research is fairly simple. You have a bar where you can lock in the dice numbers 1-6. Three research projects will be available, and each will cost a set number of dice. If you decide to use one three new ones will appear and you’ll get the benefit of whichever project you cashed in, whether it be repairing a module, giving the crew extra health/dice, or even preventing the effects from happening to the dice.
Every module on the vessel serves its own unique purpose that can help your crew on their entire journey. You’ll be maintaining things like individual health bars, the hulls strength, crew member stress, and even food management. Modules on the ship can help with these, and usually only have one of two requirements. Some need you to place a die in the modules effect slot that is a five or higher, while other modules require you to place a string of duplicates to benefit from their effects. Crew members also have their own unique abilities similar to those of the modules, and will also require high-rolled dice to take advantage.
Another stat you need to pay attention to is the stress level of your crew members. Between each week’s phase of potential damage, you’ll be given a short layover period. This is where you can disperse food among the crew, the food being converted into extra dice, and you’ll need to make one of two decisions. These decisions effect things like your crews health, stress, number of dice and even the hulls health. The higher your stress levels, the more drastic these decisions could end up being.
I was extremely, yet pleasantly, surprised by how much I enjoyed Tharsis. Despite the fact that everything is relayed to the roll of some digital dice, I kept finding myself heavily invested in the livelihood of my crew and getting them to Mars. One thing I thought was pretty cool was the game gives you a moment to wrestle with your humanity. When things get dire and you have no food, you are given the option of eating a crew member to replenish your dice. If you do this, then whichever crew members participated in the cannibalism will be given new looking dice that are quite red and bloody, a touching reminder of the atrocious act you performed.
It feels like part board game, part roguelike and it could not be more fun. There’s three difficulty levels, as well as extra crew members you can unlock by meeting certain milestones in the main game or undertaking special stories. No matter what, there are tons of interchangeable setups that will easily provide an unlimited amount of replayability. This is a game that is a must have in everyone’s library.