FTL – or Faster Than Light — is a roguelike game set in space where you must manage ships and their crewmembers’ decisions. You play as one of the last Federation ships, tasked to take down the rebel flagship and save the universe. Sounds easy enough, right? Let me tell you now, this game is difficult.
Decision making in this game is so important. Knowing what choice will have what consequence helps you out a lot. There are eight sectors with a bunch of beacons spread out randomly. To progress through the game you must get to the end sector. Planning what path you will take is key, but it’s not just carefree traveling through space. No, no, no!
Occasionally there will be events popping up on your screen when you jump to sectors. There could be a planet under attack by giant mutant spiders, or there could be a shady fuel station at a beacon. Choosing what you are going to do at each beacon will change your ship, either in a good or bad way. You can earn scrap, lose crew members, find a random gun floating in space and so much more. The odds are completely random each time, just like the rest of the game. Every time you hit that start game button there won’t be another sector like one you have visited in previous runs, and I think that is a neat part of the game.
If you are lucky enough – or unlucky enough — enemy spaceships may be roaming around in a beacon. This brings us to my favorite part of the game, the battles. Using your weapons and/or drones to attack ships is so much fun and managing your own ship along with making sure you fix anything that gets destroyed is very exciting and fast paced. Making sure your rooms are online while also paying attention to your health, while ALSO charging and firing your guns at the enemy’s systems and trying to make them panic. It is chaotic.
After collecting scrap from the remains of enemy ships or events that end up working out in your favour, you can upgrade your ship. Do you want to get another layer of shields, or maybe you should level up the engines. Wait, no! Let’s give the piloting room an upgrade! These additions to your ship can be the difference between winning and losing a fight. Keeping track of how much each thing costs and what you want to buy first is a good idea. If room upgrades don’t sound like your fancy, shops around the sectors have crewmembers, weapons, drones, augmentations, new rooms and resources for purchase.
There are many different combinations of these things that work together well. One example being the fire bomb and the teleport bay for trying to kill enemy crewmembers instead of blowing up their ship. Or the flak launcher and a laser beam for taking down shields and dealing heavy damage. Depending on what starter ship you choose and how lucky you got at the start, there are plenty of different combinations that can work together to make a powerful ship.
One final thing that should be talked about in this game is the amazing music. Almost every different sector has an absolute banger of a song playing. Ben Prunty did such an amazing job of the music. It captures the essence of the game so well. The sounds are nice and peaceful when you are drifting out in space by yourself, but during combat the music instantly transitions into faster action paced beats.
Overall, FTL is an amazing game. Sadly, since the beacons and loot and enemies are random each playthrough, it can result in either a smooth sailing game with just a little bit of trouble, or a painful and frustrating race to the end where you are holding on for dear life the entire time. But a game having a little RNG is not enough of a reason to dislike it at all. That is part of the genre after all. This game is a solid nine out of ten. Strategizing and fighting through this rebellious solar system is some of the most fun you will ever have.