The story of FTL: Faster Than Light seems an unlikely one. From its introduction as a Kickstarter project, to the monumental task of convincing and then proving that a roguelike, spaceship simulator is worth anyone’s time, FTL has faced many a challenge. Against all odds, FTL has proven, to me at the very least, through crushing defeat and uplifting success, that what it provides can be fun and accessible, while still offering a great challenge that manages to never feel unfair.
FTL is a somewhat thinly veiled presentation of the classic roguelike sub-genre of RPG, combined with a light spaceship simulator. Upon first hearing this, it would be understandable if one was a bit off put, but FTL manages to meld these two hardcore genres together into an accessible and enjoyable package. At the start of the game you’ll choose a ship pre-fitted with various weaponry and abilities (which you can unlock more of later through achievements), name that ship and your crew if you wish–though be prepared for the potential heartache that can come from total destruction if you choose to make connections with your crew–and then begin your run through space. A run consists of traveling from point to point within a sector, visiting as many locations as possible, before jumping to the next sector, all while outrunning a pursuing armada. This constant pursuit adds an extra air of tension to a game that can already put you on the edge of your seat during even the simplest of missions. It makes for a great feeling when you’ve visited every location in a sector, completed every quest, and still managed to jump ahead of your tail.
FTL is a roguelike in that each run will be distinct from the previous one, and the missions, enemies, encounters, stores, and nearly everything else are randomly generated (to a degree of fairly minimal variation). And of course, the most defining roguelike trait; when you die, it’s over. It doesn’t matter how it happens; you could be facing off against the enemy flagship, or fighting for your life in your very first encounter, either way, when you’re done, you’re done.
One of FTL’s greatest strengths, among many, is its soundtrack, which adds immeasurably to its value and cohesiveness. Not only is it fantastic music in its own right, but it creates the perfect atmosphere for what FTL is trying to accomplish; making the player feel like they’re in space.
FTL can make you feel incredible, or horrible, in an instant. Whether you completely annihilate a foe, or let a stray asteroid demolish your ship and end your run, there’s almost always a sense of gratification, or deflation, to be experienced. It’s a wonder that all its systems are so easily grasped, and that it’s as enjoyable as it is. I never expected to be as enthralled with a game that combines two genres that had never spoken to me before, but FTL is beyond expectation in that regard.
Download FTL here.