Review FTL: Faster Than Light - a space RPG game of the roguelike type

Author: Terrag
Date: 2012-09-17 07:29:00
The review was based on the PC version.

When Justin Ma and Matthew Davis, with the help of Kickstarter, started raising money for their new debut project FTL: Faster Than Light earlier this year, they did not set the bar too high. While industry colleagues often ask for hundreds or even millions of dollars at the start, two young developers have estimated that they need "only" ten thousand to complete the title. At that time, probably no one expected that in the meantime they would be able to gather a faithful community and collect over 2000% of the declared amount.

FTL is a unique position. Made in an ascetic visual setting, which resembles rather older works, it not only belongs to the not so popular roguelike games nowadays, but also locates the action in outer space. We will find here all elements typical of the genre with an above average level of difficulty and a huge impact of randomness at the forefront . Often, even at the very beginning of the adventure, we will have to fight for survival, and the unlucky selection of visited sectors and equipment available in the game will result in the spectrum of the so-called permadeath - annihilation from which there is no turning back. The title in this respect is extremely strict - the game saving system actually does not exist at any time. You lost? Start again.

The story is only an exceptionally subtle background to the events - we are the last hope for the Galactic Federation, which is in eternal conflict with the Rebels. Our ship has acquired key Federation data and must deliver it to the command as soon as possible. The problem is that the Rebels are fully aware of the situation, which is why each of our moves brings the specter of an incoming enemy closer and intensifies the threat. In this way, the deadly race against time begins, which accompanies us throughout the entire game, becoming by the way a guarantee that we will not play in one sector for too long, grinding happily every time.

The gameplay is accompanied by an unusual atmosphere and actually from the first minutes associations with such positions as Star Trek , Firefly or Battlestar Galactica come to mind . We play the role of the captain of a space ship and take full control not only over the crew, but also over every component and element of armament, and even sluices, the opening of which causes the depressurization of the deck in an instant. Managing your own ship is not easy, unfortunately it is not, therefore we appreciate the active pause relatively quickly. Stopping the game is a trick that we will use constantly, because almost every skirmish requires a lot of concentration and perfect synchronization of the weapons we use. It is not enough that we shoot, the right moment is also important, and actually moments, given that often there are more guns, and a large firepower is needed to break through the protective shield of opponents. Of course, each shot was properly sounded, which often saves our skin, warning, e.g. against rockets. The audio layer also works great , alerting you to any event that requires attention, and while making space exploration with pieces typical of SF climates.

The player is responsible for appropriate allocation of available resources, among which we will find scrap used for the development of components, ammunition in the form of rockets needed for the launchers installed on board and remote drones. Each of the components used requires a specific amount of energy for proper functioning, which can be dynamically allocated at any time. The problem is that initially the ship's reactor is not very efficient, and therefore it is possible that we will have to decide whether it is more important to activate another laser cannon and finish the opponent, or maybe the constant production of oxygen on our deck? Of course, you cannot have everything at the same time, which is why proper resource management plays an extremely important role here .

The fight is the main attraction, and also one of the strongest sides of FTL . With every skirmish we have direct insight into enemy equipment. With a little practice - we learn to recognize his armament only by its appearance. A careful observation of the lights on his weapon, in turn, allows for proper distribution of energy, resulting in the strengthening of the shield or increasing the chance of dodging by diverting more power to the engines. The correct assessment of the threat and the proper conduct of the counterattack are important because we have a lot of possibilities here. At our disposal (as well as the opponent's), among others, high-speed lasers piercing the rocket shields, whose special variations can ignite a fire on the enemy's deck, ionic cannons temporarily deactivating hit components and many others. Discovering subsequent configurations is a great satisfaction when we check their effectiveness in practice.

The tactical layer is extremely extensive and each player will certainly find something for themselves. For example, I remember very well the configuration in which I used two high-speed ion cannons, over time reinforced with an advanced laser, helping to break through the shield of the enemy ship. Switching my own weaponry to automatic fire of key components, I teleported combat-trained representatives of the warlike insect race, who dealt with the enemy crew as if from the inside. One of the common tactics is also the skilful use of remote drones, with the help of which we will strengthen our own defense (they can shoot down the enemy's missile), and also conduct an effective attack. With a bit of luck, you'll be able to buy an additional upgrade, thanks to which each of the drone used is captured after the fight and transported back to our deck, and thus their resources never shrink.

Our crew, invaluable in contact clashes and all kinds of on-board repairs, is useful for one more reason. Most of the key components of the ship need an operator. The shield generator, to which we assign the character to manage it, will in time begin to regenerate our shield faster. In turn, the weaponry controlled by a specialist is characterized by a shorter waiting time for the next salvo. Because our people's skills increase with each use of their "ability", their training may take a while, which further increases the value of a specialized unit. We appreciate the role of a professional crew especially in the later stages of the game, when each additional percentage increasing the effectiveness of components is at a premium .