Tharsis – Review
Follow Genre: Board Game, Strategy
Developer: Choice Provisions
Publisher: QubicGames
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam), PS4
Tested on: Nintendo Switch

Tharsis – Review

Site Score
Good: Entertaining
Bad: Heavily RNG dependent
User Score
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.7/10 (3 votes cast)

The board game market has always been a prolific one, having existed for ages. In recent times, these board games have started to have ports to digital versions; some have been released and only exist digitally. This latter case applies to Tharsis, a digital board game with a focus on strategy, originally released in 2016 and now re-released for Nintendo Switch.


The story of Tharsis revolves around the crew of the space station known as The Iktiomi. This space station has been sent to Mars to research an unknown anomaly. During the trip, the station is struck by disasters, ranging from system failures to meteor rains.

In order to survive, the crew must rush to fix everything in time. If they manage to survive until the fourth week, a transmission from Tharsis on Mars will be received, showing a video with several figures wearing the same suits as the crew. After 10 weeks, Mars will be reached and depending on how many of the crew survive, one of the different endings will be unlocked.

The story of this game is not the main focus at all; it’s just there to give the events a reason, being little more than a set for a play.


Tharsis has decent graphics; there is nothing really special about them, with possibly the exception on its in-game graphics, which have quite a plastic-like appearance, making the models look stiff and somewhat samey.

There’s not much going for the graphics, being mostly reduced to the few character models and the station itself, the first having very little variation between each of them. Several images appear during cutscenes, which are very well done.


The sound department in Tharsis is not very well handled in general. The soundtrack keeps on restarting at the end of each day, making it so it’s quite hard to listen to a whole song. There’s a good amount of SFX added into the game, but these are not particularly good, mostly ending up as white noise, which becomes stale and an annoyance sooner rather than later.

A point in favor of the game’s sound is that it features complete voice acting for all of its cutscenes. This also includes an interesting feature where if one of the characters dies, and it happens to be the narrator, one of the other crew members will take over the narration for the remainder of the game.


Tharsis claims to be a strategy game, but ends up ultimately failing. There is a very large amount of RNG involved in the game, making the strategic part of the game fall short. For example, the player may have an idea of what they want to do, but in the end, it will be the rolls making it viable or not.

The gameplay consists of several events appearing per week, these being of different importance and type; some may damage the hull or the crew, while others may make systems fail or remove dice. As the game progresses, more events of higher importance start to appear, usually involving higher rolls, this meaning several characters are usually required to clear a single event. With this, the game forces the player to decide which events to prioritize, leaving the others unfulfilled.

The problem with this style of game is what was previously mentioned, the wildness of the RNG involved, or rather, that it’s too involved. There is nothing that can be done without rolling dice, thus meaning every single thing is in the hands of luck. An event may end up requiring the whole crew to clear, implying other events won’t be solved and the modules of the station, with uses such as recovering dice or health, won’t be used.

All of this comes without mentioning the hazards that appear on different events. These can be of three types: stasis, void, and injury. These activate whenever a rolled die matches the number they show, the first will prevent those die to be re-rolled, the second will delete them and the third will deal one point of damage to the character per dice matched. All this ends up meaning is that, even in the case there is a perfect roll, there is still a chance for it to be useless.

These faults end up making the game have too much artificial difficulty. The challenge is not on strategizing to solve the problems, but rather on if the RNG will allow you to roll high enough to clear the events.


Tharsis is not a bad game, it’s entertaining and has quality, but hasn’t been polished and balanced enough to keep the players engaged for a long time. This means it ends up becoming the type of game that may be played to kill an hour of empty time, not one that will make the player come back out of interest.

Personal Opinion

“Tharsis is entertaining; the runs may range from 10 minutes to over 30 depending on your luck. It is not a difficult game to play, at all, instead being a difficult game to win. What I mean with this, is that there is no “getting good” at this game, you’ll end up doing the same every run, hoping your dice roll high enough to be useful without matching the hazards. Having no skill involved makes the game accessible, but at the same time, it handicaps the ability of the game to keep a player engaged. Without the possibility to improve, there is no reason to come back to a game which doesn’t have any other saving graces to compensate.”

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Rating: 7.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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Tharsis - Review, 7.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

No longer writing for the site, pursuing other things.

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