I ate a crew member in Tharsis, it wasn't a big deal or anything


Dice rolls and human rolls (on bread)

I hadn’t been keeping up with Choice Provisions’Tharsis, so I had no idea what to expect when Steven assigned me to preview it at PlayStation Experience. As soon as the developer who was leading me through said it was a “realistic space strategy game” and I saw dice rolls and board game-like mechanics, I realized Steven is getting to know me better than I’d previously thought. Aww <3.

At any rate, Tharsisis about taking five four crew members (one of them dies before you even start playing, not sorry for the spoilers, deal with it suckers) to Mars to prevent a catastrophe from occurring. You have to use these folks’ different abilities (mechanics, doctor powers, technicianing) to keep both your crew and craft in one piece. This is far from easy, since you only have twelve months/turns to reach the red/communist planet, and Murphy’s Law is ready to smack you in your dumb astronaut face.

Each turn, something horrible happens. “Oh, guess we’ve gotta go fix the oxygen-maker before our eyeballs pop,” and “Oh, we’ve ran out of food, time to consume the dude who died first!” were both problems that I dealt with in a span of maybe ten minutes. You always want to send the best person for the job, since they have higher dice rolls for certain challenges and also can mitigate conditions that would be impossible for others to face. One specific condition was called void, and it would choose a random number for a section of the space craft. If you rolled that number, that die would instantly get sucked out of the ship and you wouldn’t be able to save it for a re-roll. It’s horseshit, but it’s funhorseshit.

That’s all of Tharsisfor me: fun, aggravating horseshit. You can tell it was made by people who love board games, and aren’t trying to hide that at all. Most video games try to hide their dice rolls, as if seeing them will somehow make a gamer recoil and hiss when they realize they’re playing (gasp) actual nerd shit. While the UI initially looks daunting, it’s just like any board game in that you’re going to colossally fuck up the first time you play since you’re sussing out the rules with the poor, unfortunate souls of the characters you choose.

Choice Provisions knows exactly what it’s doing with this one. You can feel the hours the designers spent prototyping this on paper. I’m readily anticipating yelling at my PlayStation 4 when Tharsis releases on January 12, 2016, but anyone who knows me will understand that I’m having a great time.