very time a new space-setting game comes out I utter a groan deep down inside and for some reason unknown to me I also hear Patrick Stewart’s voice saying “Space… the final frontier.” I don’t enjoy the space setting, I’m not into sci fi, planets, aliens, space ships, robots, it all comes down at the bottom of my list. Why my favourite game of all time should be Mass Effect 2 and the game I’m looking forward to playing next is Aliens: Colonnial Marines, I don’t know… but back to the point, FTL is a game set in space, which immediately prejudices me against it, so space games have to go that extra little mile to impress me – FTL does just that.
FTL is a roguelike space tactical space simulator. You have one life and when you die – game over. You’re the captain of a Federation ship and you have vital information on how to beat the Rebel fleet. The catch? You’re on your own half way across a galaxy of eight sectors and the rebels are chasing you relentlessly. If they catch you, you will die.
njoy a screenshot of Ben, Daniel and I starting out on our epic journey to get the Millenium Pigeon to safety and defeat those pesky rebels.
The gameplay is based around running your ships systems and subsystems (weapons, shields, engines, medbay, drones, piloting, sensors, doors) and making choices on which systems to give priority power to, which to upgrade first, which weapons to deploy, how to use crew members and so on. You’ve also got to decide which path to take, what equipment to install, how much fuel to use, what to buy and what to sell. Decisions, decisions.
You’ll never have enough power to power everything at the same time, even fully upgraded so you have to tactically choose your priorities and switch them around during combat.
You’re moving from point to point, aiming to get to the exit, into the next sector and eventually back to your fleet. At each point a random event will take place, ranging from the super exciting absolutely nothing, to a variety of attacks, stores and choices. The choice might be to help a ship that’s in distress, which turns out to be a rebel and attacks you, or maybe they give you some parts, maybe you rescue a crew member or find a weapon. Maybe they’re a friend but you decide to destroy them rather than let them go free and loot their corpses. As with most games, there are high risk options and those often yield the best rewards – but sometimes RNG kicks you right in the nuts and no matter which option you take, you’re pretty screwed.
hilst you can pause the game in combat to make your decisions (something I personally don’t do), the pressure is kept up because the rebel fleet will slowly progress over the map behind you and you have to keep pushing on and taking risks. If you play a super safe game, never take any risks, you’re likely to have gathered less resources, less upgrades and the final fight is going to be that much harder for you.
The game is a balance between your tactical choices, ie. skill – and good old RNG. If you dislike random generation or believe you have about as much luck as a diabetic hummingbird you may get frustrated. You can be having the most amazing game, make all the right choices, have all the best upgrades, be filled with supreme confidence and then good old lady luck puts on the brakes and you’re thrown into a fight that’s pretty impossible to win. Life is hard. Game over, start again from the top. I’d like to say I cried when Ben died, but I didn’t. Sorry Ben.
he game is a conflict of my emotions. It’s both bone crushingly difficult and mind numbingly simple. It can be awesomely fun yet rage inducingly frustrating at times. After each death I close the game in a temper tantrum… only to constantly return to it like an addiction. Overall it is a master of the genre and at under $10 (and regularly now on 50% sale) it’s an absolute steal. My main complaint? Why the hell isn’t this game available on iPad! If you’re a fan of the strategy roguelike genre then regardless of whether you enjoy the space setting or not, I think you’ll find this game both challenging and entertaining but prepare for moments of frustration when the odds are stacked against you. 8/10 from me.