FTL

So I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around the game FTL by SubSet Games for a while. It pops up on steam a lot and it always looks intriguing. I used to play a game called “Freelancer,” which was an open world space sim where you could pirate, trade, do missions, or whatever you chose in space. FTL always looked like it would scratch the itch that game left behind. So when FTL went on sale a few days ago (and still is, as of this articles publish date), I bit into it. So come children, and gather ’round the table, as I tell you the tragic tale of the SS Futon.

 

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I’ve already put 10 hours into this game and I am loving it. I have yet to beat it, but I’ve come pretty close a few times. The game, if you are unaware, is actually a kickstarter success story that started off as but a trailer and now lives as a full-on game. It’s a strategy game where you are in command of a ship that you must take from the where you begin through 7 sectors to the Federation fleet. On the way, you encounter random events such as being boarded, many, many space battles, helping space stations, and escorting distressed ships.

You play from a top down perspective, commanding your crew to fight, fix broken things, control various stations and a myriad of other things. You also control the ships power distribution, targeting and smaller subsystems like doors, teleporters and cloaking. So lets begin!

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The Futon! A fine vessel! This is the starting ship, and it’s actually is pretty good load-out your first go. Each ship has a different play style and unlockable layout, and no one is really any better than the other. As you see above, we have our valiant crew, Drew, Cullen and Robby.

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And we’re off to a great start: On fire! I have drew up front, piloting, which allows us to “jump” our ship from place to place, Robby is on shields (like his emotions) and Cullen is on weapons (due to his extreme inner rage). The other man-able station is the engines, which you will notice is A: on fire and B: Being vented into space (to stop said fire).

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So far, so good. We actually gor a really sweet weapon from the previous fight and we’ve jumped to a nearby store. The galaxy has many stores like this one that sell different things. Some will have weapons, like this one, while others will have automated drones, ship augmentations or hirable crew members. All of them have ammo, hull repair, drones and most importantly, fuel. Things are looking pretty good! What could possible go wrong!?

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Well, it turns out many things can go wrong. Immediately after we left the space-store, Robby was eaten by giant spiders (God, that’s just like him. So selfish). And then we jumped next to a star, which, after a tough battle with pirates, is doing quite a number on us via solar flares. Half my ship is on fire or venting O2, but I can’t tell because the sun knocked out the sensors.

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Drew hilariously, er, I mean, tragically dies on his way to the medbay, leaving Cullen alone in the dread of inifinite space with barely any health. He manages to jump the ship out of harms way to find a neutral mercenary. He’s not in great shape and things aren’t looking to bright for the Futon. But Cullen has a mission, damnit. A broken ship, a billion lightyears, or even the wrath of God himself won’t stop this juggernaut from completing the mission.

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With destiny behind him, the open sky ahead of him, and with the help of a few freed slaves, Cullen is able to get to sector 4 with the rebel fleet on the edge of his heels. Here we see the map one uses to jump from encounter to encounter. The red zone is the nefarious rebel fleet that expands each turn. The Futon has made it to the exit point, which will allow it to jump to sector 4. Sector 4! What Glory awaits him there!? What wonders!? What sights!? Onward! To Victory! For the Federation!

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Well…

Shit.

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This is just one of the many, many adventures I’ve had with the many ships I have set out with. Each trip is so unique and fraught with it’s own perils. The game is fun and different every time. It should be noted that there is only one save at a time, so when your ship dies, that’s it. You can’t load from earlier and try again. Fail or suceed, you’re next game is a new ship and a new crew. Losing like I just did is part of the fun, and though that’s frustrating at times, it keeps me coming back for more.

My only complaints with the game are that I wish I had the ability to explore the whole sector before being pressed out by the rebels and that sometimes you can get pretty screwed by the randomness of events (I lost 2/3 crew members in my first two jumps once). But even with those complaints, another ship and adventure are just a click away, so I rarely mind it.

FTL: Faster Than Light is currently available on steam for $9.99 (though on sale for $4.99 as of 2/19/13).