Published on August 16th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
FTL: Faster than Light
A spaceship simulation roguelike, that’s what the developers FTL call it. It’s taken me a while to get round to this talking about this one, I didn’t think it was possible to have enough to talk about, but I was wrong.
The game is like many a-roguelike and has been described as Spelunky by way of Firefly, except without the rabid fanbase. The game lasts only an hour or two leaving you enough time to wash the plates or whatever it is normal people do of an eve. The aim is to deliver a message to the Federation of the oncoming rebel fleet and reach the end point and partake in a battle to defeat them.
“It’s just so bloody beautiful”
Strangely enough, as soon as you arrive and let the bosses know of the crappy news, the fleet is instantly behind you leaving no-one able to prepare or anything, just another wonderfully pointless thing the game likes to dig at you.
The game originally started off as a Kickstarter, because, what doesn’t these days? You could probably crowdfund your own breakfast at this bloody rate. FTL began with a modest goal, however it gained a large momentum, carrying it past the $10,000 to over $200,000 with many changes and enhancements as a result, although why they didn’t get some evil ship-controlling AI in on this ride with that money I have no idea.
The gameplay involves managing the power supply of your ship and winning battles to obtain scrap, the currency of the game, in order to purchase more weapons and upgrades for your ship. Although this is much more exciting than pulling plug sockets out of the wall and digging through the rubbish bin, as you are able to customise almost all aspects, so that when you go into a spacefight, you will use all of the stuff you’ve earnt and directing the crew around the ship makes you feel a right champ. These upgrades will be needed to tackle the ever increasing difficulty of the rebel fleet and other enemies you will face, which are mostly pirates, because they’re all the rage right now.
At the beginning of the game you can choose what type of ship to use, one that is able to use drones and is feck-ugly or the awesome aerodynamic one that focuses on missiles and is called the KESTREL, which is damn sight better than being called TORUS. You can also name your ship if you just aren’t that into birds and the three characters you start with can also have their sex changed and what not if they are human. For some odd reason, the male characters have blue hair, I assume that they’re male characters anyway, because really they are just the same models, but one has long brown hair and one has short blue hair. The characters in the game repair the station they are at and also can be moved to other stations in order to power them up, each character has health and this can be depleted from constant fire to the rooms they are occupying, enemies boarding the ship and physically fighting them or because the oxygen is running out. I’m not sure about other people, but lack of O2 is the most common cause of death for my folk. After fights (and winning obviously, unless you lose, which means starting all over) the ship then proceeds through the areas, each randomly generated so you could arrive near an enemy ship, a trader or just nothing.
This all sounds really complex and incredibly nerdy, but this game is beautiful. I can’t stop playing it. Over and over because I can’t beat the bloody thing.
As it is randomly generated, every playthrough is different, except that because of the huge sense of progression, the exciting battles and the overall good design, you never feel cheated by this. There are lots of different ships for all the different races, knowing the weakness of some of the races and can sometimes help with defeating the enemy. Sometimes you can acquire new members for your ship or even buy them from traders (ooh-er) and some have some useful traits like reparation.
The graphics of a game are not something I usually talk about, however the aesthetics are continuous and evoke a real spacey feeling, utilising digital looking 16bit for characters and text, but smooth modern lines for the ship. The music is electronic and fairly minimalist, there are two sets based on general exploration and battle themes, I think it really suits the game and is one of the reasons you can dreamily sit playing the game for hours.
For the first time I ever, I want a franchise for a game. I want to see enhanced sequels and extra downloadable races and ships and stuff, I haven’t even unlocked anything on my game as I am so rubbish.
I would like to see this series branching out to other game styles, like a first person hybrid puzzle/adventure/godsim to a third person X-Com styled tactics/strategy game or one where you play as the commander of the ship a bit like Mass Effect but with less fratty and more… science-y. Oh hey! I want to see a first person game where you play as individual crew members, doing various roles around the ship, like maintenance and spacewalks and what-not and during battles you get to go out in individual bomberships or man the blasters or handfight alien intruders Arkham Asylum-style but there’s a mechanic like in Driver: San Francisco where you can ‘shift’ between people on the fly, oh Christ, you could even work it into the story, like that everyone is linked because there’s a large ship-controlling AI and… we’re back there again.
I would still like to see more, not because FTL is lacking in any way, but because it’s just so bloody beautiful, from the mechanics down to little sprites and everything. I want to see more varied experiences where I get to live out my Space commander fantasies and this game has opened the door to this like no other game has. So if you haven’t already played this game, then you sir, are quite simply a masochist.