A manly tear falls from my eye as I hold my salute in honour of my fallen soldier ‘Rex’. “There was nothing I could do Rex” I tell his corpse. “You had to hold the invaders in there while I opened the airlocks then shot the compartment with lasers.” I plead. “IT WAS YOU OR EVERYONE!” I weep.
He was so young.
FLT: Faster Than Light is effectively a Spaceship Management game. You take your humble ship equipped with but laser guns and rocket launchers across the stars picking up aliens, new technology, battle scars and weapons along the way. The actual story is you are trying to cross the many star systems to inform the commander of your worlds fleet the dastardly rebels plan which will allow you to quash their pathetic rebellion and save everything and everyone everywhere. I prefer to think of the story as each new ship is a chapter in the tale of ‘How I Stayed up Till the Dawn Sunlight made my Skin Crack and Peel like a Ginger in the Sahara Clicking on Things.’ Written by Charlie Ewing.
It’s one of those games that preforms exquisite cunnilingus on the part of the brain that can’t stop clicking ‘new game.’ Like a Heroin rat in a lab I couldn’t stop pressing that button even if my tiny furry body was twitching and limbs were falling off. In my half-dream state that night I found myself playing the game in my mind; every time I died I would wake up shocked then fall asleep again just to start all over again.
FTL is so wonderfully intuitive and user friendly considering the complexity and depth attainable by accomplished commanders. The pixelated graphics and clean UI make for an easy assessment of what needs done and how to go about fixing or shooting it. There isn’t unnecessarily flashy graphics or graphs and dials which I like, this isn’t Eve online so you put your calculator and Excel Spreadsheet away.
The layout of the ship is simplistic in design as well. Some rooms have equipment like engines, medbays or teleporters which are all represented with a corresponding black symbol. If enemies take these rooms out with arms fire or by teleporting aboard your ship and pulling all the plugs out they become un-usable and severely hamper your ship in some way. If they take out the O2 supply you will soon find your soldiers suffocating slowly to death; the engine room and you will float along defenceless and unable to dodge or charge your FTL drive which allows you to escape from conflicts. Of course you can target your enemies’ equipment and leave them unable to shoot back at you, shield your attacks or heal their wounded. A lot of the choices you will have to make revolve around where you will target your weapons, will you take out their shields leaving them exposed first to small arms fire or aim their gunnery room so you can take your time witling them down with lasers and hold back your precious rockets.
Each sector you travel to is a race against time and a survival mission. Even making it to the next zone without getting picked off by pirates or rebel scouts is hard enough without the lure of distress calls which could be anything from a merchant hiring you to provide him safe passage to another area or a mining asteroid that is about to blow giving you the option to risk your own safety to save others or leaving them in the merciless Space God’s hands. While you are trying to survive all this the rebel fleet moves from the left of the screen to the right, constantly pressuring you onwards.
Each game till you die (don’t kid yourself you won’t complete it) lasts around 30 minutes and during that you rapidly increase in crew size and ship capabilities. This reward mechanic is reminiscent of Half-Minute Hero and Realm of the Mad God both games I have spent many an evening till morning playing whilst gorging myself on terrible American Sitcoms and pistachios. (I’m a surprisingly good multitasked when it comes to media and shelled nuts) The final boss is a bitch though so don’t be surprised if you find yourself crying about how unfair space is.
Is it enjoyable though? Fun? FUN!? I know, Filthy casual wanting ‘fun’ from his video games? I too am outraged at myself but I’m not sure I ever had a face that wasn’t just either contorted in anger, because of my incredibly tensed buttocks as I nearly die or the knowledge that my little victory against a small pirate scout was but a momentary bump in the graph of getting done over by the randomly generated cosmos of FTL over time spent in FTL (Positive correlation thank you very much GCSE maths). Random generated worlds have a habit of bending you over and buggering you silly and I have a habit of asking for more in the hopes that next time he, (‘He’ being the personified code responsible for generating the density of pirate ships that will rape you) might treat me nice and give me a new weapon instead of wrecking me (‘Me’ being both my ship and colon).
If you play it for hours on end which is honestly the only way I can see anyone playing it, FTL can sometimes get a little repetitive. There are only a certain amount of distress calls and random encounters that after a while you will have seen them all and know which option to choose. Having different alien races can open up other options however which can add some variety.
At £8/$11 you will without a doubt get your pennies worth in terms of play time but it’s also a very memorable experience and one I think should be shared by all.
…I still dream of Rex sometimes.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.