You are the captain of your own spaceship and you have your own crew, each of them is in charge of a section of the ship. You have been tasked with delivering vital information to your allies who will use it to battle rebels. Along the way, you will encounter space pirates, solar flares, asteroids and other space-related dangers and you must make important decisions that could make or break your mission. No, I’m not talking about a Star Trek episode nor am I talking about some secret NASA mission although it will be so cool if the latter turn out to be true. What I am talking about is FTL: Faster Than Light, a retro-based space simulator adventure game developed by Subset Games and released on September 14th, 2012. Now you can live your dream of being the captain of a spaceship ala Captain Kirk and travel through the vast expanse of space.
You start your space adventure by selecting a ship. Initially there is only one ship available for selection, which is The Kestrel, a standard ship commonly used by your allies, The Galactic Federation. But as you progress further, you get to unlock other vessels from the different alien races in the game. Each ship has nine important rooms that need to be attended to at all times to ensure the ship remain in tiptop condition. Those rooms are Shields, Engines, Oxygen, Weapon and Drone Control, Medbay, Piloting, Sensors and Door System. Shields room ensure that your ship is covered by a force field that blocks most incoming shots. Engines power the FTL drive that allows your ship to dodge attacks. A fully charged FTL drive allows you to power your ship to the next sector thus enabling it to run away from enemy attacks. Oxygen room ensure that the ship has sufficient oxygen to keep its crew alive. Weapon and Drone Control rooms each powers the ship’s weapon and drone system. The Medbay heals injured crew members. Sensors reveal the interior of your ship and gives information about enemy ships.
The interior of The Kestrel aka FTL’s default ship
Each ship can carry a maximum of eight crew members. There are altogether eight different alien races in this game and you can choose which race you want as crew member. Each race have their own strengths and weaknesses which you can fully utilize in different scenarios.
From left to right: Human male, Human female, Engi, Mantis, Rockmen, Zoltan, Slug, Crystal, Lanius
- Humans One of the most common races in the galaxy. Learn skills faster due to their reduced XP ability, have no notable weaknesses and are the cheapest race to hire.
- Engi – Excellent engineers and are mostly useful in repairing damaged ship sectors and rooms since they have the fastest repair speed of the alien races. They are hopeless in combat though so avoid using them to fight invading enemies at all costs.
- Mantis – Excellent fighters. You should use them when boarding enemy ships since they inflict the most damage and have the fastest movement speed of the alien races. However, they are the slowest when it comes to ship repair.
- Rockmen – A highly defensive unit which their rocklike exterior. Perfect for defending the ship from invading enemy forces and since they are also immune to fire, can also be used to put out fires. Their extra health is also great for fixing hull breaches since they take longer to suffocate. Have the slowest movement speed of the alien races.
- Zoltan – Allies of the Engi. The majority of their bodies are composed of pure energy which can be harnessed to provide a single block of power to the ship’s system. Besides that, the Zoltans explode upon death, dealing damage to the enemies. They do have the lowest health though.
- Slug – A telepathic alien race, Slugs are able to use their powers to reveal adjacent rooms connected to the ones they are in even when the sensors are down. They can also detect enemy crew member on your ship or theirs.
- Crystal – Ancient ancestors of the Rockmen. Have the ability to lockdown any room they are in, coating it with crystals to prevent anyone from entering or leaving making the room itself invulnerable to damage. Like the Rockmen, it has increased health and slow movement speed
- Lanius – This alien race was released in FTL: Advanced Edition, a free upgrade to the vanilla FTL game. The Lanius has the ability to drain oxygen from any of the rooms they occupy, making them a great offensive unit and a nuisance for an ally. Just be sure that they stay alone in any room on your ship.
The game may sound simple at first, commandeer a ship and her crew and travel through space to deliver important info to your allies, the Federation. But it is so much more than that. Because you are the ship’s captain, you must ensure that your ship and crew remained in tiptop condition as you navigate your way through space. You have the option to do some upgrades on your ship’s offensive and defensive system as well as crew recruitment. To do that, you will need to find scraps, this game’s official currency which you can trade for upgrades and crew members. Scraps are located in various sections of the universe and you must decide whether or not you should travel around to find them. Your ship runs on fuel so you need to check from time to time if you have enough to travel that extra mile. Besides that, you need to reach the Federation before the rebels do so time also plays a factor in your decision-making process.
The upgrades section
But that is only half the fun. What drew me to this game is its unpredictability and randomness. Because this game doesn’t allow you to save at any point, you will have to start from the beginning if your ship is destroyed thus failing the mission. Every time you start a game, the sub-missions on each sector will change. That what makes it so unpredictable. Risks have to be taken and sometimes you will have to abandon your moral code to ensure the well-being of your ship and crew. But that doesn’t mean that you should ignore every sub-mission that comes your way just to proceed to the next warp point. Sometimes, you can be rewarded with valuable upgrades, crew or scrap for your help so think carefully. You don’t have to rush to make a decision though since this game allows you to pause at any time for as long as you want. This should give you sufficient time to mull over your options.
Decisions… decisions… decisions
Keeping your ship and crew in good shape and looking for extra scraps and upgrades are not the only decisions you have to make in this game. You will also need to ensure that your ship is combat ready for the inevitable space battles with enemy ships. You are also required to make important decisions while in combat mode. You have the chance to gauge your enemies’ capabilities and must decide on which part of the ship to hit or to send which crew member to repair a damaged sector or to fight enemies that have breached your ship. Besides that, you must also decide on whether or not you should stay and fight or run away the moment your FTL drive is ready. Besides critical decision making skills, luck also plays a big part on whether or not you will emerge victorious from a battle. As you and your enemy trade blows, chances are you or your enemy will miss the intended target. So if you feel that luck is not on your side, it is always a good idea to run away. Remember, the goal of this game is to not rack up the most victories but to reach your destination safely so try to avoid any confrontations if possible.
Combat Mode: ON
All in all, this is a superbly-made game and its randomness makes it highly re-playable. If you desire a cheap pick-up game that doesn’t require much commitment then you should consider FTL. Its retro-based 8-bit graphics will make you feel nostalgic about the great cartridge-based games of years gone by. At $9.99 it is already considered a steal so give this game a look. Thank you so much for reading this and if you have any suggestions, please do leave a comment below. Thank you once again and have a great day.