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Video Game / Tharsis

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I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.

"Tharsis is about being in a rolling state of mental anguish, knowing that every positive action you take is also sowing the seeds of your own destruction."

Tharsis is a dice-based strategy game for Windows, Mac OS, and Playstation 4, released in January 2016 by Choice Provisions. It was designed by Zach Gage, best known for his mobile game Spell Tower, and his collaborative work on Vlambeer's Ridiculous Fishing and Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy.

Your task is to guide the crew of the ill-fated spaceship Iktomi on a mission to investigate a mysterious signal originating from the Tharsis region of Mars. Character's available actions are dictated by dice rolls, and along the way you will have to contend with a myriad of dangers, dwindling food supplies, and the ever-present threat of the space crazies.


Tharsis provides examples of:

  • Cool Starship: The Iktomi appears to be modular, and fully capable of continuing to function normally despite having chunks blown off.
  • Determinator: The 'Last Man Floating' mission features a single astronaut attempting to survive in a rapidly malfunctioning spaceship for 5 weeks.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The opening narration mentions how they had planned for various worst case scenarios as a part of the mission. But they never expected multiple ones to hit at once.
  • Difficulty Levels: Casual, Normal, and Hard.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Well, earn your bittersweet ending at least. The mission is a success, but the fate of your entire crew is left open to interpretation.
  • From Bad to Worse: The game proper begins with an entire section of the spaceship, all of the food stores, and two crew members getting exploded. Things get worse.
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  • I'm a Humanitarian: The above opening disaster leaves you with a corpse in the medical bay. Low food supplies means this option becomes available early in the game. There's even an achievement and an unlockable character available for those who make use of this.
  • Luck-Based Mission: In spades. Every single interaction is a literal dice roll. 'Assists' allow you to nullify harmful outcomes, but even they won't save a particularly unlucky crew member from snuffing it due to terrible rolls.
  • Multiple Endings: Reaching your destination with all crew members alive will change the ending, and shed a little more light on the nature of the mysterious signal.
  • Space Madness: Conveyed as 'stress' by each characters' portrait. Highly stressed crew members will visibly fidget, and this translates in gameplay terms to the choices offered to you between each week. High stress is always bad, and will result in choices with poorer outcomes.
  • Stable Time Loop: Reaching Tharsis with less than your entire crew results in a signal being sent backwards in time, resulting in the mission to Tharsis in the first place. Getting your entire crew there appears to break the loop.
  • Take Your Time: No matter how many dire emergencies are threatening your crew, you have all the time in the world to decide how to deal with the situation.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: More like jettisoned into open space when the section your in explodes, but the result is the same for the sixth crew member.


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