The mobile game market has been desperate to fill an FTL-shaped hole ever since Subset Games’ spaceship management simulator debuted back in 2012. Subset Games is bringing FTL to iPad later this year, but in the meantime, Out There might just be enough to scratch that deep-space itch.
The similarities between Out There and FTL are fairly obvious. Both require you to navigate a hostile universe with nothing but duct tape and bubblegum. Like FTL, Out There integrates roguelike elements to generate drama and suck the player in--resources are scarce, and the fun comes from trying to make the best of bad situations. Running low on fuel? You could gather some from a local gas giant, but the planet’s volatile atmosphere might damage your ship beyond repair. Do you skip this planet in hopes of finding a less dangerous source down the road at risk of being stranded without fuel? It’s these sort of dilemmas that helps Out There capture FTL’s desperate fun.
Of course, Out There adds its own style to FTL’s space exploration. FTL’s pixel art is swapped out for a very nice comic-book theme. Typography snobs might recoil at the liberal use of comic sans (more like “cosmic” sans, amirite?), but the rich colors do make for some very nice eye candy.
The other big difference between Out There and its pixelated elder cousin is the lack of combat. FTL was very much a game built around deep-space battles, yet Out There focuses more on exploration. You’ll spend more time trading with ancient alien species than you will blowing them up, though there’s still some action to be found. I’ve only put an hour or two into Out There, but I’d still be willing to recommend it to anybody who can’t wait for FTL to land on the iPad later this year.