What am I playing? FTLmas, $10 Well Spent in Space!

Yay, the gift-giving season is almost over…just one more night of drunken debauchery and massive money spending coming up, and then we’re into 2015. It’s the last week for our $10 or less game choices, and I figured I’d save what I consider the best for last. Another roguelike (we see a lot of those under $10,) produced by an indie developer (ditto for the $10 crowd,) we take a look at Subset Games’ FTL.

FTL stands for Faster Than Light, a science-fiction roguelike where you take the role of a ship captain, piloting a vessel that’s desperately attempting to escape a fleet of rebel ships trying to destroy the Federation, which you represent. You need to fight your way through 8 sectors of randomly generated events, fights and circumstances, and then take out the rebel flagship in a bid to preserve your way of life. This game presents you with a series of moral choices as well as straight out fights, with rewards used to improve your ship until you can hopefully build enough of a weapon system to fight off the awesome might of the Rebel fleet.

The gameplay is a mix of real-time strategy and turn-based conflict. You navigate your ship through a series of sector maps, which are collections of star points linked with travel paths. You need to navigate through each sector on a way to an exit point to pass through each sector. Sectors have different types, and though all of the events and ships are randomly generated, specific sectors will spawn different kinds of events. They base events and combat ships on the sector type, the compliment of your crew, and simple random number generation.

There are 7 different races that can crew your vessel, each with different advantages or disadvantages (except humans, they are pretty worthless.) Each time you enter a new encounter, the interface switches over to a top-down, basic image of the layout of your ship. Each ship has a number of rooms, and the different systems occupy different rooms in the ship. From there you can control your crew, your weapon systems, and the power systems throughout the ship. Normally, the game runs in real-time, but you can pause it at any time to double check your decisions, time your weapon systems, or make any tweaks you want on your ship. They present game events through simple text-based choices, and the combat system is equally simple. You see a picture and layout of the enemy ship on the side of the screen and you target your weapons at areas and systems to hopefully blow them out of space.

Like most roguelikes, FTL is a very hard game. Don’t expect to win until you have quite a few hours played into the game, but each playthrough gives you another possibility of unlocking additional ships, additional layouts, and more events. FTL is one of those games that’s been around long enough that many people disregard it simply because of its age. In that, they are giving this game a very serious disservice. FTL is one of the most well balanced, well-developed roguelikes available on the market, and since the only version you can buy now is the ‘Advanced Edition’ you are getting a full suite of additional sectors, races and ships.

I have over one-hundred fifty hours into FTL, and I suppose if you want a recommendation for a good way to spend your $10, I can’t think of many better ones then that.


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