FTL: Faster Than Light is a Kickstarter success story, and hopefully one that will set an example for those who follow in its foot steps. Started by a two-man crew, FTL has quickly grown from a little indie kickstarter to a wildly popular indie title featured on the front page of the Steam Store, and released through GoG. I’m pretty late to the party on this one, I only heard about it from one of the other writers while we were talking about Black Mesa Source’s release. I’m glad he so adamantly mentioned it, however.
FTL: Faster Than Light features a rather unique mode of space battle. Instead of controlling the ship directly, and firing the lasers and torpedo’s yourself, the game functions as a hybrid between an RPG and an RTS. You don’t actually control where your ship flies, but you do control the positions and actions of the people manning the ship. This is much more akin to how I imagine an actual space ship operating. As the captain of the ship, you assign orders to your crew, such as repairs, manning a station (which adds a small bonus to what ever operation the station performs), piloting, fighting enemies that board your ship, and even more.
At first, when Mike described the game to me, I thought it sounded a little wonky, like it was going to be extremely difficult to learn or the controls were just going to be unwieldy. The game play is rather natural, however. The weapons system is similar to EvE Online, where you have a weapon (e.g. a laser, or a missile launcher) which takes up power from your reactor. Your weapons then go through a “loading” cycle, and then you can set them to either auto-fire, or you can individually select and shoot each one. In the beginning of the game you only have two, so it’s fairly easy to manage them without the auto-fire system, but I’m sure farther into the game it becomes more difficult, especially if you combine in micro-managing your crew around.
When you attack another ship, you can select a target and fire at a different part of the ship. This is a really interesting system because you can choose to destroy certain systems on the other ship, such as weapons systems, or the engines, or the shields, and this grants you a leg up on the enemy. Later on you can upgrade sensors to be able to view the ships interior and target individual crew members. As I’ve progressed I’ve found that you should focus on destroying the shields first, and then move on towards other parts of the ship, specifically weapon systems and things pilot positions.
The detail put into this game is really excellent. The battling system is interesting and intense, forcing you to decide whether you want the evasion bonus of a guy manning the engine system, or if you want to put the fire out in the medical bay. There is even a tactic to open your hull doors and leak the oxygen out of different rooms to put the fire out. Honestly, there is so much effort put into this game that the paltry $8.99 Steam and GoG are charging for the game is nothing. The game may not be for everyone, but for me it’s one of the more creative and interesting games I’ve played lately.