lemau: Happy Shampoo for DW (Happy_DW)
[personal profile] lemau
Well, it's been a whole while since I updated, and I haven't done a game review since 2012 (hur hur), so here goes (also, this is a DW entry, I'm trying out x-posting for the lulz):

Faster Than Light is one of those games you could have gotten for free from Game Hippo ten years ago, if that still means anything to anyone. The 2000s were the golden age of freeware games and a lot of good games I've played were actually from this category. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) Steam opened their arms to indy game developers signaling the end of the freeware era. It's not terrible as long as most programmers don't let it go to their heads. I happened to get FTL: Faster Than Light at 50% off during a sale, and I have to admit, I still think I paid a high price for a reasonably simple game. Simple as it may be, though, it's super amusing to play and terribly hard to master.

FTL puts you in the captain's chair of a (mostly understaffed) Federation starship running from a rebel fleet with some data that should not be removed from your spaced, cold dead hands. You start out with the Kestrel ship, but as you gain achievements and complete assignments over time you also get different ships and alternative lay-outs.

Because the star systems are randomly generated, the events are random (and so are the consequences) and the rebel fleet advances through space over time, the game keeps being original and won't keep you hanging around one sector for too long, thus challenging your decisions every time. You might run into cool technology to augment your ship with or a nebula that cancels half of your engine power. You might find a crew member or lose one in a painful struggle for survival on the planet. You can drain sections of your ship of oxygen to extinguish fires, or it's done for you by perforating your hull. One thing is certain: There's meteors, nebula's, rebels, pirates and events that will try to reduce your hull to zero (leading to an obvious demise).

Of course, there are other perils, both inside and outside the ship, one particular one that will haunt you from time to time is the scrap, which is equal to credits. You may find yourself at a store with barely enough credits to fix the hull or implement a pretty cool albeit cheap weapon. Know this - you might run into a well shielded ship next sector that you won't be able to beat without that weapon, OR you might run into an overpowered ship and you could have used that extra hull. Alternatively, they might just hit your oxygen supply and keep your crew from repairing it, so that everyone on board slowly suffocates and your ship is left drifting in space until it's stripped or destroyed. Game over.

The achievements are definitely not for the faint of heart, and expect a lot of failed attempts. This game needs someone capable of leading and prioritizing. Something you will learn (and slowly master) playing this game. Do you keep your crew member on shield control, or do you send him to extinguish that fire? Alternatively it might be worth just to vent two compartments and re-oxidize them later on. However, sometimes you just need to fix that broken weapons system, because otherwise you're a sitting duck.

Bottom line, games like these is why Kickstarter exists. This is a gem of a game with a good tutorial and a steep learning curve. The achievements are not easy, and some are ridiculously hard, but the replayability of this game is brilliant and will keep you taking occasional stabs at the harder ones. The big downside is that since I grew up in the era of freeware games I think paying 10 bucks for this, especially since it already had a Kickstarter funding, is a bit steep.
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