A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn to plan, prioritize, and use critical decision-making. They'll also need to manage their time effectively -- the stress and hunger will grow, and their available dice will decline if not properly managed. Players also will have to manage the damage the ship takes to ensure they can progress another week and survive. Players will fail frequently, but each failure is a learning experience. Tharsis is an unforgiving game of strategy and luck; most missions will fail, but those who learn to persevere will relish the challenge.
Survival in space is extremely difficult but satisfying and requires patience, planing, ingenuity.
Positive Role Models
Players act as mission commander but frequently have to make hard decisions that eliminate crew members for possible survival of others.
Ease of Play
Gameplay is simple; understanding the complexity of the strategy is extremely difficult.
Violence & Scariness
Though no violence is shown, it's implied with the inclusion of cannibalism as a feature of survival. Dice also turn red, drip blood upon rolling when crew are stressed, near death.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tharsis is a downloadable turn-based space strategy game with dice. Players are put in control of a mission to Mars that's struck by a micro-meteoroid storm, damaging the ship. Managing the disasters, stress of the crew, food shortages, and potential cannibalism, all in the name of survival, makes this game intense. Each decision is about mitigating problems, keeping the crew alive, and making it just one more week closer to Mars. Understanding the modules, class abilities, research, event management, and a whole lot of luck will determine your mission success rate. Tharsis is very unforgiving, and players will fail more often than they win.
Is It Any Good?
This isn't a game for those who want to take the easy path, because there isn't one. It's very unforgiving, and though on the surface it may appear that it's luck-based, it really is a game of strategy. In this turn-based system, you have to survive 10 weeks (turns) where you roll the dice to seal your fate. Tharsis is tough -- there are no bones made about that. The odds of winning are very low, and you'll fail many, many times before you really understand how to play. Many gamers won't make it through the steep learning curve and all the hurdles it throws at you.
But if you're persistent, it becomes evident that Tharsis is much deeper than it originally seems. The complexity in the strategy among crew, modules, events, and research take it to a level all its own. And though lady luck does play a factor, learning how to use luck to your benefit is what makes this game so addictive to those who enjoy the challenge. Tharsis is definitely not for everyone, but those who enjoy sci-fi, survival horror, tabletop, and dice-rolling all in one are going to love it. The rare times you win will feel like you've won the lottery and scaled Mt. Everest at the same time.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.