A Real Time Strategy Rougelike

by | May 1, 2013

FTL, Faster Than Light,is a space role-playing game with roguelike elements developed by indie developer Subset Games. If you’re unfamiliar with roguelike elements, they are a sub-genre of role-playing video games that are characterized by level randomization, permanent death, and turn-based movement. The name of the genre comes from the 1980 game RogueFTL may very well be my first roguelikeI may have played other roguelikes back in the days of shareware, but I don't specifically recall any. experience and something about this very simple game really resonates with me. FTL was a Kickstarter campaign that was successfully funded and fully launched in 2012. Check out Subset Games’ Kickstarter pitch here:

 

 

 

 

You play as a starship captain on a mission to save the galaxy. To begin you only have one ship option, the KestralThere are 18 ships to unlock, and three crew members. You’re able to customize your ship and crew by giving them names of your choice. This simple feature is actually one of the things I love about this game. Much like the old Final Fantasy games, I name my crew members after friends and make them assume roles that best fit their personalities.

At its heart this game is actually about resource management. With a gameplay style similar to an RTSReal Time Strategy game such as Star Craft and Civilization 5, there is an overhead view where you not only command your crew but the ship systems. The ship systems are categorized as shields, engine, oxygen, medical, and weapons. Each of these systems can be upgraded by utilizing scrap, which can be acquired during missions, as currency. In any given battle you will be sending your crew to man specific areas of the ship, directing power to shields, targeting areas of enemy ships, and even opening the outer blast doors to suck out the air to suffocate a fire.

 

 

If this game was called Battlestar Galactica you would be Commander Adama urging your crew on as the Cylons continually close in from jump to jump. Much like the world map of Super Mario 3, you move from node to node making decisions with the hope of getting an important message to the other side of the galaxy. You may have to decide whether you want to help control a fire on a nearby space station, or attack a slave ship you’ve stumbled upon. It’s a different experience every time.

The games graphics could have been accomplished on any system from the original Nintendo to today. It’s so simple, but it does everything it needs to do with giving just enough design to give FTL it’s own style. It shouldn’t be too surprising that I love it. There is just something about an effective minimalist design that I appreciate. Especially minimalist that manages to retain it’s own style.

It’s easy to say that this game is not for everyone. It is a difficult game, and I highly suggest you start on “Easy” to get the hang of it. You manage a lot of elements, and the events are random so no two voyages will be the same. Assumptions can get your crew killed quickly. That being said it’s not impossible. It’s just an NES level of difficulty, one were you are expected to learn how to play instead of being babied through it.

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I picked up FTL during a  Steam saleCheck out our article on How to Survive a Steam Sale  after enormous praise from RebelFM and it has been a fantastic experience. Being someone that does not have a lot of spare time, especially uninterrupted spare time, I like games that allow me to play a game while I’m doing other things. With its bite sized gameplay segments and the ability to play the game in a small window size this is a great game for those with busy lives that still looking for a satisfying gaming experience in controllable spurts.

 

Let me be clear, this is not a review. This is not a review for one very good reason, I haven’t beaten FTL yet. And, That is not due to a lack of trying.