Sounds like slang for falling doesn’t it.
Space itself, I believe, is not really the fear of humanity when they’re there. The fear is the fact space is a merciless frontier. We as human are designed for a millionth of a percent of the entirety of existence, and the rest of existence is not friendly towards us. If something goes wrong in space your death is pretty certain. If it can even be called an environment it is the most inhospitable one known.
Shortest Trip to Earth plays on horror trope number 6 of space: being lost in a deep part far from home. The setup allows for a roguelike adventure in the vein of games like Faster than Light with plenty more depth to play around with and the ever encroaching fear of getting turned into debris at any second. Extra depth separates this from FTL enough to not be considered a clone, and sets itself up as a unique addition to the space-rougelike setlist.
You’ll first notice Shortest Trip to Earth’s separation from other games with ‘fate points.’ Whereas other games will just give you unlocked items from previous runs such as ships, which this game does too, fate points will be your main modifier for each run. You spend fate points on various modifiers, such as additional crew, equipment, and perishable resources. You don’t save fate points per run so spending time spending them all and matching up your books will drastically change how well your run goes. This does also mean buggering up a run will cripple successive runs however, meaning you can run a streak of failing just because you cannot really stack up fate points well.
You are then greeted with a radar-like view of the system you are in. This is the start of your run. You split your run into 3 steps: Travel, contact, and ship maintenance. Travel is fairly self-explanatory, with your aim being to reach the exit gate at the end of the system. You click to move your ship around to planets and other significant objects picked up by your radar, warping to other systems when you can or want.
Contact ranges between simple conversation and battle. You’ll meet various races on your travels and they will want to chat or kick your ass. Battles play pretty much like FTL, though I cannot really think of a better system to use so I shan’t mark them down for it. You control time, pausing the battle to target various ship components with your weapons. It’s simple but effective, although a lot of your time will be spent running around repairing enemy damage, as they seem pretty effective at targeting your softest spots.
This blends in with ship maintenance. While most of your time will be spent repairing damage after battles, you do get to manage your crew’s roles on the ships with various systems and upgrade the components which make up your vessel from buying parts and salvaging destroyed ships. While this is all solid, the repairing after battle saps a lot of your time, and I’ve spent probably more time repairing after battles than travelling around which may say more about me as a tactician than the game. However crew member move far too slowly, and selecting them to do tasks can be difficult as the cursor highlighting is kind of crude and will regularly pick the component your crew member is nestled in instead.
To supplement this gameplay you get a typically ambient soundtrack and a simple graphical style. Nothing here can really be complained about; the music works perfectly for the style of game and the graphics are simple without being too simple that you cannot identify what you’re looking at by sight alone. I do have a particular like for the system view, which emulates older radar setups with a cathode-like effect making each white light glow eerily and adding to the feeling you are really alone in space.
Shortest Trip to Earth can almost be considered an update to FTL, and I find it best to describe as a blend between FTL and The Long Journey Home which I reviewed a while ago. It doesn’t seek to brutalise the formula, building a solid game which requires you to build up a certain level of skill and patience like any other roguelike. The addition of fate points to tip the scales in your favour is a good unique twist, and if they just made sure highlighting crew members was easier with the mouse I would have nothing bad to say.
You can grab Shortest Trip to Earth on steam by clicking here
Shortest Trip to Earth is Developed by Interactive Fate and published by Iceberg Interactive