FTL Faster Than Light – Review

A review of FTL Faster Than Light I wrote for the website www.square-go.com

FLT: Faster Than Light is a space ship management game. That’s the short version but there’s more to it that we’ll get to later. The game has a pretty simple setup; the Federation is under attack by the Rebels, you are in command of a ship tasked to deliver special information to the Federation HQ before the Rebel army gets there. There follows a mad dash across space with a giant space fleet one step behind your ship.

Your ship. This is where the magic of the game happens. When you start you pick a type of ship, name it and the crew and off you go. Each ship is split into compartments some of which are more important than others. You crew can man some areas to give bonuses, like weapons that fire more quickly. Or they will be there to fix things when a missile slams into your hull.

All of this is micro-managing on a pretty tense scale. The game plays in real time but you can pause it to give your crew orders or target compartments on your opponent’s ship. If you defeat a ship you can pick up scrap which can either be used to upgrade your ship or buy new weapons or equipment at the shops that you run across.

All of this gives you choices; do I jump to a shop or jump elsewhere to get some more scrap? Do I fight this ship or run away? Should I buy a new gun or a new crew member? And all the time the Rebel fleet is behind you, slowly covering the sector behind you forcing you on. Or can you squeeze in one more jump before you make it to the exit?

And you will care. The look of the game is simple with basic looking characters for your crew, basic top down 2D space ships. But that is all the game needs because you fill in the rest, you create the drama and the story in your head. You see? No? Right, an example.

The ship launched with a crew of humans, the intelligence to save the Federation in their hands. They fought space pirates and rescued an alien named John. Then disaster; they jumped too close to a sun along with a rebel fighter. Missile spun across space as the ships were buffeted by solar flares, fires springing to life around the crew. The rebel ship was defeated but at a great cost; the human crew were now all dead, their mission bequeathed to an alien and a ship repairing robot. On they jumped across the sector, fending off more pirates, discovering people willing to join the crew. And then they met the Mantis ship with the intruders that teleported aboard, a pitched battle started that could not be won. Soon the crew fell, the ship not long after. The mission was a failure.

That was one game. That was one fifteen minute game of FTL. A whole space opera full of hope and tragedy and hot lazer death. That what you get with FTL; a whole universe in front of you, a whole universe of choices. The game has a great amount of depth that opens up as you play; new ships with different layouts that all need a different approach.

If you enjoy strategy games, space games and stories then FTL should be picked up as soon as possible.

Five stars out of five

Originally published October 25th 2012

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