Review: FTL: Faster Than Light
FTL is an interesting game for many reasons, graphically a throwback to old school visuals, roguelike game play, and possibly the most interesting thing is that it’s the first major release from a game that has had a successful Kickstarter, raising $200,000 well over their goal of $10,000. Let me give you the FTL elevator pitch. “It’s Oregon Trail, but in space” with it’s roguelike style of gameplay you’ll either love it or hate it. With these games you get out what you put in, but the initial difficulty curve can be a difficult barrier of entry, but once you are in, your are in for life!
The story for what it is worth is pretty straightforward; you are one of the last Federation ships and you are carrying vital information that can’t fall into rebel hands. The Rebel fleet is on your tail and you have to get out of there to complete your mission.
From a gameplay perspective you have to manage your ship as you jump across the galaxy trying to reach your goal, while staying ahead of the Rebel fleet that is right behind you. You start with a limited crew who you must assign to stations, piloting, weapons, engines etc. It is up to the crew to keep the ship running, by firing weapons or repairing damaged systems, fighting fires, or worse fighting intruders
The ships are fully customisable with many upgrade paths to choose from. The foundation of your ship is power output, which you then channel into it sub-systems. Upgrade your shields to absorb more damage, but if you haven’t upgraded the power systems then you might have to re-route power from other systems. Divert power from weapons and you can’t shoot back, reduce life support and your crew might die . . . are you Captain enough to make the hard calls?
Every time you make a jump you are presented with a random scenario; from empty space, to asteroid fields or enemy ships or even just merchants at friendly space stations who just need a hand with something. Mostly you will be engaging in combat, and you get to choose which weapons to fire and which systems of the enemy ship you want to target. This is where tactics come in, do you disable shields first so you can do the most damage to their hull, or try to disable their weapons to minimize your own damage or maybe knock out life support? All the while you’re micro managing these same systems on your own ship. This frantic action really makes you feel like you are the captain yelling orders to your crew!
Like any good roguelike, when things go bad, they go bad fast! For instance in one of my first playthrough, I came up against an enemy that transported three of their crew (Giant Praying Mantis Men!) onto my ship, and my tiny weak humans were less than a match for them in hand to hand combat. So I tried venting my oxygen to space and evacuating my crew to the front of the ship while sealing the doors behind. It was a working strategy, but sadly the hard vacuum of space didn’t slow down the aliens enough! They tore through my engines, weapon and shield controls and then fell upon my crew, who promptly died of exposure and their beating.
Given the level of involvement and fun micromanagement you can get very attached to your ship and crew, making it just that much more heartbreaking when they burn up in a solar flare, or all die from loss of atmosphere due to a hull breach. I’ve started to imagine each time I start up a game that I am entering my own personal Kobayashi Maru. There is no such thing as a no-win situation? Sometimes there is, and that’s why I love this game.
FTL: Faster Than Light is available directly from their website, you get a DRM free copy along with a Steam code. This a great lightweight game, infact I could easily see this running on an iPad, the interface would translate really well into such a device. It can be played in short quick sessions if you don’t have much time. I highly recommend it, and you should pick it up today if you are even slightly interested in this type of game!
- Great Music
- Intense Combat
- Extremely rewarding gameplay
- A little more variety in weapons and scenarios would be nice