FTL: Faster Than Light - Recensione

Author: Stefano "Stef" Castelli
Date: 2020-03-03 02:57:19
FTL, or Faster Than Light. No, this is not a Superman simulator but a strange hybrid between a simple turn-based strategy game and a real-time video game, all packaged in a graphic style that can resemble a video game made in flash and that squeezes the watch out for PC games from the early 90's (Star Control 2 reminds you, right?). In the game we will manage to manage a spaceship fleeing from a rebel fleet and we will have to cross a star map, moving from quadrant to quadrant, with the aim of delivering vital information. At the start we will have access to a very limited amount of resources, starting with a rather thin ship's equipment, crew reduced to a minimum and economic constraints. A poverty that we will have to make ourselves enough to start exploring the cosmos, proceeding jump after jump to new planets, exploring maps that are generated from time to time by the computer: in FTL, in practice, there are never two equal games.

The crew is ready to run from one room to another.

Upon arrival in a new sector, we will be greeted by random events that can be positive or negative: the most frequent concern the encounter with unfriendly spaceships, which will be followed by a space battle. In this case, it will be up to us to point the weapons on the various sections of the enemy spaceship, while managing the various defensive systems in our trabiccolo. At this point it is good to talk a little more about how our spaceship works: do you know when in Star Trek you see a group of guys comfortably manage all the ship's functions while sitting in the same control cabin? Here, forget a similar thing in FTL: here, every room that forms our spaceship is assigned to a function. There is the one for the management of weapons, the one to activate the shields, the engine room and the cockpit, plus a series of additional rooms with auxiliary functions. The crew members will therefore have to run here and there for the spaceship to optimize the use of the systems, put out fires, repair leaks, fight invaders and fix everything that is inevitably damaged in a space battle. In addition to simple human beings, during our trip / escape we will be able to recruit aliens of various species, each with its own characteristics.

The game manages to instill a certain sense of anxiety thanks to the continuous gait of the enemy faction on the map, an element that forces the player to decide carefully and sparingly the "jumps", in order to avoid staying too long in a stellar sector and coming thus achieved by the rebels. By the way, the fuel is never too abundant and often we will have to organize forced detours to the shops scattered around the cosmos, where to exchange scrap collected during the trip for supplies, repairs and upgrades. Those who took care of the balance of FTL took care that the player was never at ease and that supplies and resources were always narrow: every single choice therefore requires attention and a modicum of parsimony.

By playing we will unlock other spaceships and crews to use.

However, FTL has a couple of flaws that limit its appeal over long distances. First of all, the variety of random events is quite small and already after a handful of games the same situations begin to be relived. Furthermore, luck plays a decisive role in our adventures: obtaining the right weapons or equipment suitable for the circumstances often means being able to survive easily, in the face of situations in which the destruction of our vehicle seems almost inevitable. In this sense, a certain imbalance weighs heavily in boarding situations, with our crew often willingly at the mercy of the attackers without it being possible to organize themselves to adequately repel assaults on our ship. Even the initially exhilarating space battles lose their charm once they have identified that pair of targets to always aim at enemy ships, thus limiting the sensible choices to be made to the bone.

Making a technical judgment on FTL is almost superfluous, considering the minimalist style adopted and the graphic aspect often quite gracious, although winking at games of the past such as the unforgettable Star Control series. Even in the face of precise considerations on the graphic choices, one cannot fail to notice a few too many problems on the interface, with elements to click sometimes very small and impractical, especially during excited situations (for example, the doors of the ship's sectors) .

In short, FTL: Faster Than Light is a well thought out game that recalls on the one hand some classics of the past and on the other a couple of board games like Battlestations. He succeeds in telling an ever-changing spatial odyssey, it is easy to learn but difficult to tame and teases the desire to play "another game and that's it", but at the same time in the current state of things would require some additional limatina and a pinch of extra variety to strive for excellence.

Always fascinated by videogames that look like board games or by board games that look like videogames, Stefano Castelli had fun plowing through the sidereal spaces of FTL shouting "Jump!" every time he pressed the yellow button. You can blame him on Twitter.