Indie Game Review: Fun that is Faster Than Light

Your ship is under attack by pirates! Your shields are down and the hull’s integrity is waning away fast, by a sheer stroke of luck, your ship manages to evade a missile fired at your engines. You ready your own missile and manage to destroy the pirates’ weapons. With no offensive capabilities for the time being, you seize this opportunity to unload everything you have. The pirates, scared, attempt to warp to a neighboring sector, and you, being a merciful captain, allow it.

In Subset Games’ “FTL: Faster than Light”, thrilling scenarios are around every corner. You, the player, are the captain of a Federation ship under constant pursuit from a rebel fleet bent on preventing you from reaching their faction’s flagship. Along the way, you’ll encounter both denizens of the systems you traverse and fellow travelers, friendlies and hostiles, and both who need your assistance as well as those willing to offer you theirs.

Movement and exploration aspects of the game work somewhat like an old rogue-like RPG in that every move you make allows your enemies to advance. You’ll want to stay ahead of the rebel fleet tailing you or else face a nasty wave of rebel ships bent on taking you down. Combat, on the other hand, is real time. You’ll be micromanaging your crew to repair damaged systems and man their stations, targeting key points of the enemy ship with your weapons and allocating energy to all the necessary locations.

For a strategy game, combat is extremely tense as one wrong move can lead to your ship’s destruction. This is made all the more stressful given that once your ship is totaled you’ll have to start over from the beginning of the game. Everything bad that can happen in this game is completely permanent.

The game is nearly impossible to beat on your first few runs, so you’ll be experiencing the feeling of absolute defeat many times. This might sound like a colossal pain, but I found that it made me care a lot more about my crew knowing that I held their lives in my hands. It also makes this game extremely addictive, as you’ll be battling to make it just a little bit further over and over again. It’s never a pain to start over either, as every level is procedurally generated. You’ll never go through the game in the same way twice.

The visuals in FTL are pretty simple, but effective and consistent. It’s not going to blow your mind graphically speaking, but it has a nice feel and everything fits together just fine. The music also adds to the overall atmosphere of the game. The music which plays as you explore galaxies tends to be ambient and mysterious, while in battle it is more focused and is usually backed by an intense drum beat. The soundtrack is distinctive and never grates or gets old, so I was happy to leave the sound whenever I played this game.

FTL is a fantastic little gem. I have a hard time classifying it as a casual or hardcore game, as it is so easy to pick up and just have fun with, while still being a deep game which requires a lot of practice and exploration in order to successfully conquer. This is a great game to pick up if you’re looking for something that’ll keep you coming back for more from time to time, even months after the initial purchase.

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