Okay, so we’ve covered the basics of the roguelike now let’s see where we can take it. FTL follows the basic idea of a roguelike game, always pushing on through randomly generated locations unsure of what lurks around the corner. The difference is that this time you control a small crew aboard a star ship, jumping from sector to sector, travelling from star system to star system; trading, doing quests and trying to stay one step ahead of the oncoming tide of war ships hot on your tail.
Now I shall be reviewing the advanced version of the game so anyone still running on basic will be able to note a few new features mentioned in here and hopefully give you an idea of if you should upgrade. However in order to avoid wasting your time the answer is yes. The update is free and only seems to add rather than take away, or so it seems thus far. There are more stations on the ship so you don’t end up with too many crew members stood idle, more quests to complete and more equipment to bolt onto your increasingly Frankenstein-like ship.
The game has you running from one end of the galaxy to the other aboard a ship, now only one ship is present when you first boot up the game with the others unlocking after completing certain objectives. Some of these are easy to figure out just hard to do while others which are shrouded in quests and dialogue choices work the other way round. The crew that comes with them is pre-assigned in terms of race, with each race having certain perks and advantages over the others except of course the humans who are superior in their deficiency, however you are free to change their gender or names to your hearts content.
From here the game starts with a stack of power to be diverted to any station you wish, a few open control stations at each of the main areas of your ship and no idea what is even one star over. Once you have assigned your crew to where you want them, bearing in mind that they will become more efficient the longer they spend at each station assuming they last long enough and you have everything appropriate powered up you can click the jump command which will take you to the star chart. By placing your mouse over them you can see what stars are in range and even what stars are in range of them, allowing you to try and figure out the best course across the sector. This could mean saving fuel by taking the shortest route or exploring the whole area in as much detail as you can to try and find survivors pirates and so forth . Once you have mentally figure out your route you click and away you go. Some sectors will be empty, others will house stores where you can spend scrap repairing your ship, restocking fuel and torpedoes, buying new weapons or even new crew. Some systems will house events where you are typically offered a choice of what to do and this is one of the areas that the game shines for me, at least after the typical morale system style games of recent years. Now most of these choices will have an option that is clearly good and noble and another that is at least slightly dickish but the game will not judge you either way and many times you will simply have to weigh up for yourself whether you are prepared to send one of your crew over to that burning station with no guarantee that they will come back or even have found something or someone if they do. Now these options typically get easier the more you have on your ship with new equipment unlocking new solutions to the problems you encounter. For instance some of your alien crew will be immune to certain viruses and such can be sent over to aid in a quarantine situation without running the risk that they too could become infected.
However despite all this the thing you will encounter the most with each jump is enemy vessels. Now each ship, including yours, is broken down into rooms that contain key systems like shields, weapons and oxygen. Once the fight breaks out you have to decide where you are going to target, once you get through their shields of course. This gives each fight a very tactical style as you try to figure out how many torpedoes you are prepared to spend and if you should target their weapons to spare your ship, their shields to make each subsequent hit a bit more deadly or even their oxygen to choke them out. Meanwhile just as you are able to do with your own crew they can and will send people to repair damaged areas , this can sustain a fight far longer but also run the risk of an unsuspecting crew member taking a missile to the face or suffocating due to the hull breach that is slowly eating their ship.
Assuming you win the fight you carry on likewise across the sector using the scrap you get from winning fights and helping people to either upgrade your systems or buying more stuff for your cruiser. Once you reach the end of the sector you can leap on often with the choice of two sectors to go to next. The sectors are defined by who controls them, which determines who you are likely to run across and their makeup with some such as nebula shorting out sensors which can make ship to ship combat somewhat hard or even finding an intruder aboard your own vessel more like a witch hunt with the answer often being dragging one or two crew members through every now darkened room on the ship looking for the source behind the intruder detected sign (or you can just look for the flashing light indicating a system is under attack, but this still won’t help with facts like how many or what type.)
Going by the roguelike nature of the game the order and make up of these sectors changes with each play through along with who you will encounter in each one. Even the solution to quests can change with willing volunteers in one play through becoming a space crazed loonies on another.
The simple nature of the game means that it will run on more or less anything and be easy enough to pick up. The short run time means that it doesn’t really out stay its welcome and the high content give the game a high replay ability factor even if you can’t beat the boss or unlock too many other ships.
The game is a hard but fun take on star ship command for the slow purposeful gamer who gets space sick when their star fighter gets stuck in a spin.
$6.99 on G.O.G
£6.99 on steam