Each week our resident Indie Gamer Nicholas takes a look at a different Indie Game that you may or may not have heard about. Join him on his adventures as he sifts through the rubbish to find The Indie Game of the Week.
In today’s edition of Indie Game of the Week, we’ll be taking a look at FTL: Faster Than Light. If you’re a fan of rogue-likes, spaceships, or both, then stay tuned – this is one game that’s going to catch your eye.
There’s been a lot of talk about the unfortunate trend we’re seeing in gaming towards oversimplification – games that are far too simple to offer any real challenge; titles that treat the player like an idiot who doesn’t know what button is the any key. FTL isn’t one of those games: as a matter of fact, it falls on the opposite end of the spectrum.
That is to say, it tends to be wall-bangingly difficult.
I’ve very much a love/hate relationship with the game. On the one hand, it’s damned fun gallavanting about through space, seeking out . On the other hand….the difficulty curve of FTL can be anything from a gentle slope to a cliff which drops off into an endless abyss. That’s the thing about FTL – it’s a roguelike. That means that if your ship goes boom, you’re gonna be restarting. That means you might get ambushed by pirate after pirate after pirate with no store or source of repairs in sight, and you’re just going to have to fight through or die. That means that you’re entrusting your life to a roll of the dice as much as you are your own skills.
Honestly, I think maybe I might just be a sucker for punishment.
The premise of FTL is simple. You are captaining a ship serving a galactic body of government known as The Federation. This organization has recently fallen on hard times, with a crushing defeat at the hands of a collection of upstarts known only as the Rebels. Your task is to make it across the galaxy to the federation base with data on the Rebel Flagship – data which, hopefully, will lead to the ship’s defeat.
Oh, and don’t spend too much time in any one sector – the rebels are chasing you, and they probably won’t take kindly to the fact that you’ve information that could spell their defeat.
It’s pretty basic stuff, really. To be honest, the story of FTL isn’t really anything you need to pay attention to. You have a ship. you are here. You need to go there. There are a bunch of planets, random encounters, and hostile ships between you and where you need to go. You’ll need to blast through them, desperately hoping and praying you manage to get decent weapons along with enough scrap to upgrade your ship to a respectable level. Trust me, you’ll need to do it: the final boss is a cheating cheater who cheats. Even if you’ve got the best ship in the whole friggin’ universe, there’s still a good chance you might die – it’s simply how things seem to work.
Unlocking the other ships in the game is hit and miss, as well – every galaxy map is randomized, after all. As a result, it may prove downright impossible to unlock a particular ship on a particular playthrough. On the plus side, this means that FTL has virtually infinite replay value – there’ll always be a new approach for you to try, even if you find yourself severely hampered by the ornery thing’s arbitrary decision to be an ass. And in spite of all the frustration it’ll likely cause you, it’s actually very, very fun.
You can grab it on the Steam store for about $10. Definitely worth the buy.