The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
It's every nerd's dream - to command your very own spaceship
through the vastness of space. Who doesn't want to step into the shoes of
galactic space faring heroes such as Captain Kirk or Han Solo, making split
second decisions, fighting in space battles against pirates and discovering new
worlds. It's part of the romance of science fiction and one indie game, Faster
Than Light, captures the feeling - and intensity - of commanding a lone space
craft through uncharted space perfectly.
Describing FTL as a Star Trek simulator wouldn't be far from
the truth. The story is simple. Your ship has been assigned by the Federation
to deliver critical data to the Federation fleet on the very edge of space. The
only catch is that the entire Rebel Fleet, enemy of the federation, is hot on
your heels. Just about every randomly generated encounter could be (or probably
is) an episode of Star Trek.
From a top down perspective players must manage their crew
and ships systems, making simple choices and battling hostile forces as the
ship jumps from one star system to the next. Upon entering a sector players
choose which star clusters to explore. Players will discover new life forms on
foreign worlds, encounter shady merchant ships that can be bartered with for
supplies, and stumble upon academic research stations. And what to do with each is up to the player. However, the trip is far
from a relaxing vacation through space. Often times players will have to flex
their ships muscle and engage in some good ol' fashion space battles in order
to help others or simply defend one's self. Space pirates, hostile alien
vessels, and the rebels all have a bone to pick with your humble spacecraft.
Exploring the universe is great fun and crazy addictive. I
was always anxious to see what awaited me and my brave crew around the corner and
would explore every nook and cranny of the star map if I could. Thankfully, the
game forces players to progress. The rebel fleet slowly but surely gains ground
after every jump, forcing players to keep moving forward and picking
destinations carefully as to not be caught and destroyed by the much more
powerful Rebel cruisers.
Everything is done from a top down perspective. From above
players can see every room in their ship, see how much power is being used by
the ship's systems, such as shields, as well as manage crew members. Some ship
systems require crew members to be present in order for them to function, while
others simply receive bonuses. In battle crew members can be commanded to put
out fires, repair critical systems, battle enemy boarders or even teleport
aboard enemy spacecraft to wreak havoc themselves. Combat consists of players
targeting the enemy ship's critical systems and choosing the right weapon for the
job. Missiles can cut right through shields, and are particularly effective early
on. Soon enemy ships begin using automated drones that will shoot down your
missiles before arrival, forcing you to adapt your strategy. The pace is
frantic as you target the enemy vessel's shield generators while at the same
time rally your crew to make repairs or put out fires while under enemy fire.
Defeating enemy ships or completing missions grants players
scrap, which is used as currency. With scrap players can modify their ship with
a variety of upgrades, from stronger shields to weapon drones or even cloaking
The fun of the game comes from carefully managing your
resources. Should I upgrade my shields? Can I buy this new laser weapon? Do I
have enough fuel to explore this distress signal? Every time the ship jumps
from one system to the next it consumes fuel. Without fuel, your ship is
stranded and unable to move. Players can activate a distress beacon and
potentially be rescued, but more often than not a hostile vessel will find you
and attack first. Along with purchasing upgrades, scrap can be used for ship essentials
- mostly missiles, crew members, repairs and fuel. It's this delicate balance,
and the intense combat, that makes FTL so much fun.
Perhaps what is most impressive about FTL is its simplicity.
I would imagine single handedly running the U.S.S. Enterprise would be tough
and confusing work, but you wouldn't know it from playing FTL. A simple to the
point tutorial runs players through the basics, but the user interface and
controls are so simple and refined that it might not even be needed. Rerouting
your ships power from the medical bay to your shields is easily done in two
clicks. Crew members perform many actions, such as repairs, automatically as
long as you put them in the right place. The games simplicity lets you focus on
the important and fun aspects of the game while eliminating potentially
annoying micromanaging systems. This is incredible, because you are going to need all of your brain power, skill and a whole lot of luck to make it to the end and save the galaxy. FTL features an unrelenting difficulty, even on easy, but it's part of the fun. Restarting your galaxy spanning adventure after numerous defeats gives you more insight into the right strategies and the risks that are, and are not, worth taking on along the journey. The great looking sprite work used in the game
is simple but effective and the stellar soundtrack gives a lost in space feel
that sets the perfect tone for your adventures through the universe.
It's been tried in game form before, but this little indie
game captures the mood, the intensity, and the mystery of piloting a spaceship
through uncharted space better than any game before it. Running at only $10 on
Steam, or even cheaper if you catch it on sale, FTL is a sci-fi love letter that
is too great to pass up.