game of Faster Than Light is an epitaph; a dirge sung of the lives lost
on your ship’s journey through the stars. One game (which can last
anywhere from ten minutes to an hour) might have your crew picked apart
one at a time by bad luck and worse decisions, while other games might
see them to the end of their journey before your ship is blasted apart
by rebels or aliens or robots. How your crew might perish will change
from game to game, but one thing will always stay the same: They are,
eventually, going to die, and there’s a good chance it’s going to be
paper, FTL is essentially a spaceship management game. On your way
across the game’s eight sectors, your lone ship and its crew--all of
which can be named, adding additional investment in their survival--must
jump between dozens of star systems, leaping from event to event and
prompting random encounters along the way. When you need to fight, and
you’ll need to fight often, combat is engrossing and strategic, with
different parts of your ship requiring power, and different weapons
leading to different strategies as you face different challenges.
weapons, upgrading systems, and purchasing enhancements can completely
change how your ship functions, and the openness of the system makes it
so no one build is inherently better than another, allowing for plenty
of experimentation and trial and error. This, obviously, means dying and
starting over. Over and over again.
that sounds cruel, that’s because it is. FTL can be downright mean at
times, punishing your curiosity and damning your lust for exploration.
But it’s here, when things are bleakest, that success feels the
sweetest. Though it’s brutal, and mean, and sometimes needlessly so,
it’s never truly unfair, and though things may sometimes go from good to
your entire ship bursting into flames in a matter of moments, it’s
never done so with an unjust hand.
decision you make has the potential to change the rest of the game.
Allow a babbling madman onto your ship and he might join you or kill a
crew member. If he joins you, he might be able to decipher a code found
on a looted item, or communicate with an alien race that you otherwise
wouldn’t be able to speak to. Play through once and you might see your
crewmates perish while trying to extinguish a fire on a ship found in
space, but another playthrough, with a different crew, may yield
element extends past crew members into ship upgrades and weapons, too,
allowing you to succeed in areas you might have failed if you didn’t
happen to find a random thing earlier in the game. These branching
paths can lead to earning different achievements or unlocking new ships,
adding even more incentive to continue playing over and over again,
even if, in all likelihood, you’ll need to find reasons to stop, not to
of this can be influenced through skill and experience. You might, for
instance, try and recruit as varied an alien crew as possible just to
accomplish this, but part of these events are randomized, too, as to
keep things fresh and surprising. There’s an incredible sense of
satisfaction found in stumbling upon an event that had previously led to
your demise only to realize that, this time, things would be different.
Than Light is the Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica game
you’ve always wanted. It isn’t about winning--in fact, there’s a good
chance that you won’t “beat the game” on your first few dozen
playthroughs. But each journey will spin a new yarn, and craft a new
story that you’ll want to share with friends. Don’t ignore FTL because
the art is simplistic or because it looks like it’s essentially
“spreadsheet gaming.” It’s one of the best indie games in years, and
easily one of the most rewarding strategy games in recent memory. You’re
doing yourself a disservice if you don’t punish yourself with FTL.