28 February 2012

FTL: Faster than Light

Gaming Genres: Roguelike, Space Sim, Exploration, RTS
Story Genres: Science Fiction
Graphical Styles: 2D, Cartoon
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Pricing Model: Pay $
Developer(s): FTL Team
Publisher(s): FTL Team
Initial Release Date: September 14, 2012.
Website(s): Homepage, Kickstarter, Wiki, GOG, Steam
FTL, Faster than Light, is a game made by Justin Ma and Matthew Davis. It features a blend of exploration, discovery, ship management and real time strategic combat that creates an experience quite unlike other games in its genre.

FTL has been described as “Firefly by way of Spelunky.” Many games have tackled the goal of recreating the feeling of space operas, but few have focused on the inner workings of a single ship. How does the crew react when their ship takes a heavy missile barrage and the shield batteries shut down? Do you reroute all power to the engines in an attempt to escape? Do you power up additional weapons to blow your enemy out of the sky before they can breach your hull? Or do you teleport a boarding party onto the enemy ship and take the fight to them directly? FTL allows you to take your ship and crew on an adventure through a randomly generated galaxy filled with glory and bitter defeat.
  • A setting of intergalactic war: The player is tasked with a mission vital to the survival of the Galactic Federation currently threatened by a nearly victorious rebellion.
  • A story that engages, but does not dictate player experience: The setting provides direction but the real story of FTL is created by the player and it evolves organically during each play-through.
  • An arms race: The locations and enemies grow increasingly dangerous over the course of the game. To survive you will need to find and purchase equipment; hire and level up crew; and upgrade the ship’s systems.
  • Exploration is key: Every location you Faster-Than-Light travel to contains a text based event. This includes scenarios like attempting to help an infected space station pleading for help; slavers demanding your surrender; hunting pirates through a nebula; and surviving an uncharted asteroid field.
  • A random galaxy: Each play-through will feature different encounters, events, choices, and results to your decisions.
  • Permadeath is at the core of FTL: Knowing that your crew’s lives are in your hands and that each battle could mean the end of your trek fills the player with a sense of urgency and desperation that adds importance to every decision.
  • Sleek and focused gameplay: FTL focuses on the development of your ship, recreating the atmosphere of space operas without the countless menus and confusing interface that frequently go hand in hand with ship management and galactic sim games. Currently each game lasts between 15 and 90 minutes.

Probably the best Star Trek style game ever created, a game every Trekky has been waiting for, although the similarities are far from perfect. There has been quite a lot of space trading sims and action adventure style Star Trek games but nothings has ever come even this close to duplicating the style of Star Trek, until possibly now. It is a game of ship micromanagement, with transferring power between systems, repairing, and repelling boarders.

FTL is a brutally hard, short, roguelike set on an adventuring ship. You must manage your crew and systems, as well as constantly upgrade and improve both. With multiple ways of doing pretty much everything, and many different possible ship laodouts, FTL is a game with much diversity in how you play. But it also does not have that much content, and the short length can turn some unlucky campaigns into impossible to win situations or boring repeats of past voyages. There is just so little room to maneuver in any given run-thought, that you are completely at the mercy of luck, and have very little control on how your ship will turn out.

It is a very unique roguelike, that still follows pretty much all of its genres ideas very closely. But I do not think it is very good at being roguelike, and I think it picked up more of the pitfalls of roguelikes then their charm. Still it is enjoyable, and very addicting.

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Indieness: Quintessentially Indie
Play?:Should Play

1 comment:

  1. Updated to full review article, and added lots of content.