I have, of late, developed a somewhat masochistic taste for games that will try to beat me down, be it desperately trying to beat back waves of viruses in Pandemic
, to trying in vain to understand Dwarf Fortress
. In this vein, I took a look at FTL, expecting a difficult, challenging and above all fun
game of space exploration.
I was not disappointed.
FTL starts you out with a ship called the Kestrel, which I have taken to naming 'The Bucket'. It is under-powered, moderately armed and has little going for it but reasonable hull integrity. Your job is to outrun the entire Rebel fleet and deliver vital information to the Federation, waiting for you on the other side of a galaxy filled with pirates, aliens, meteor showers, rebel outposts and giant alien spiders.
You can already tell it's hard. But it is, of course, the delightful kind of fun hard that comes from the combination of a steep learning curve, and the sheer mix of hilarious defeat, (jumping in desperation away from a solar flare that has knocked out your shields, right into an asteroid field that pummels your ship to death as you watch, helplessly, through your fingers) and hard-won, edge of your seat victory (limping away from a tough fight with only one crewman left, fires raging through the ship and no airlock control, only to deactivate the O2 unit, suffocate the fires and re-activate them in time for the captain to crawl to the med-bay to recover).
FTL pulls off the wonderful Roguelike
trick of crafting stories from emergent gameplay, with each defeat teaching you a little, if only
a little, more about how to thrive while also providing you a hilarious anecdote.
Strongly recommended for anyone who loves space opera, and for those whose gaming tastes run towards the ethos that losing is half the fun.