Cheap Game Tuesday: ‘FTL: Faster Than Light’
Sometimes we play games to relax. Sometimes we play FTL: Fast Than Light. On the outset it’s a rather plan space adventure where most encounters are in the form of text boxes and you pause the game to input battle commands. In reality it’s a nail biting, horrendously difficult race against time. And with an expansion out on Steam and an iPad release it’s time to play it again.
The story is simple. You carry secret information and the rebels are on your tail. You have to navigate space by using your lightspeed warp drive to leap from node to node, with random events playing out in or against your favour. On board your ship you direct your crew to manage the most important system during combat with enemy ships. When in combat you wait until your weapons charge before aiming them at particular parts of your enemy ship in order to place them at a strategic disadvantage, such as knocking out their shields or the weapon systems. In between missions you may encounter random events where you can make a decision to stop and interact or move on by and shop for new items in the stores.
This is a difficult game. Very, very difficult. The odds are constantly stacked against you, with many of the ships outclassing you from the outset. In between remaining stocked in fuel and weapons and trying to maintain your hull purchasing new equipment and weapons proves challenging. You use the same scrap material for purchasing as upgrading your ship, so tough decisions will have to be made. With the rebel fleet constantly edging closer you don’t have the opportunity to backtrack and level up – you get what you can grab. Although you’re often at the disadvantage against the various aliens, pirates and rebels you meet on the way you can’t afford to flee from the challenge and pass on the meagre rewards needed to slightly improve your craft.
So why the hell would you play it? Satisfaction. Every win is a satisfying win, and every game that edges you further past your last final stand is a good game. It’s easy to unlock different ships and bits and pieces to give you an edge allowing for some replay value. The game would be improved if the game was shorter to play, like Binding of Isaac, but if you want a funky little space sim you could do much worse.