Thursday, September 13, 2012

FTL: Faster Than Light Gameplay Review

I'm playing FTL: Faster Than Light, a spaceship management roguelike by Subset Games.

It's a “roguelike” because it's very challenging and purposely unfair, with permanent death to seal your fate. This approach makes every victory taste better, and the sting of losing a really good ship hurt even more. The game features procedurally generated maps, so you’re never quite sure what you will encounter: nebulae (that disable some ship systems), asteroid fields, plasma storms, and solar flares, just to name a few. Also included are trading ships and short quests (usually just warping to a nearby location for a resource reward) as you jump towards the exit of each sector. While you start out with a standard ship design, there are eight others that can be unlocked by completed multi-step quests. FTL does not offer the user the ability to crease custom ship layouts, though. The tutorial does a decent job teaching the basics of the game, and cooperative multiplayer could have added even more chaos to the already hectic formula. During your time commanding the ship, you'll manage the crew, weapons, and energy distribution. Your energy budget can be distributed to shields, engines, oxygen, the medical bay, weapons, cloaking, or a teleporter, all of which are housed in separate rooms on your stately vessel. In addition to the cockpit, sensors, and doors, all of these locations can be disabled by damage and fire, and your crew will have to run around repairing things, fighting aliens that have teleported in, and putting out those pesky flames. Assigning specific target rooms for your weapons is easy, although manipulating the door system can be a bit picky, an issue when you are attempting to quickly vent out the oxygen to extinguish a widespread fire. Resources earned by destroying ships and completing quests can be spent upgrading your systems, adjusting the characteristics of your ship toward the abilities of your crew and your play style. Overall, FTL is a fantastic adaptation of rouglelike conventions to a great theme that is immediately engaging with the panicked chaos of running your ship.