Gamer on a Budget #9 – FTL: Faster Than Light
Reviewed by William LJ Galaini
I might as well get it out of the way: FTL: Faster Than Light is the best game I’ve played in a long, long time regardless of it being a budget title. There is more going on in this seemingly tiny game than in most AAA titles on PC, Mac, or any platform. Just redirect your browser up above to the game buy this sucker ASAP. If you insist on sticking around for the rest of the review however, my ego approves.
Here is why this game is so marvelous: meaningful choices. Each click has substantial and cascading consequences that are far reaching, and you truly never know the benefits or detriments of each choice. Everything is a gamble. FTL strikes the perfect balance with such gambling in that so single choice will crush you or bolster you, but each decision you make edges you in either direction. The best part of a play-through of FTL is back tracking in your mind and figuring out what you did wrong to get blown up and what you did right to get as far as you did.
Controlling a starship that follows Star Trek-esque tradition, you command a motley crew of various races. You’ll assign them different station on the ship such as engineering, shields, piloting, and even hand-to-hand defense in case you are attacked. Each battle appears to be a frantic series of commands as your crew scuttles about hallways and room in an effort to put out fires, repair subsystems, and venting invading enemies into space. You can pause any time you like, issue orders, upgrade your ship through resource allocation as well as lucky item finds, and there is no saving. You don’t get do-overs here. Once your ship is chosen, you roll with the punches until the end. There are plenty of secret weapons and even hidden ships to unlock, and the more prepared for the unforeseen you are, the better. Combat is filled with anxiety, but not so overwhelming as to be unmanageable, either. Underneath all that apparent chaos however is a streamlined and rhythmic system of control all supported by a clear and concise user interface. FTL is polished with the player in mind and the play testing on this game must have been exhaustive.
The game’s aesthetic also deserves mention. The game is ‘retro’ enough not to stifle the imagination, but slick enough in animation and frame rate to be appealing to the eye. The sound design is minimal but supportive of the events in game and the music is dynamic. Id’ even go so far as to say this is the best music I’ve heard in a budget game since Fez’s score by Disasterpiece! Marvelous!
In short, this is a gem. FTL: Faster Than Light is the pinnacle of what a budget indie game can be. May this game find its audience.
Why you would buy it:
You get warm and fuzzy at the mention of ‘rogue-like’
The best part of a game for you is playing it
You loved Star Trek when Star Trek was actually good
Why you would pass on it:
You do not care for the ‘rogue-like’ game model
The best part of a game for you is winning
What are you talking about? The new Star Trek movies rock!
Recommended for: Any age, anyone, any time
This Gamer on a Budget review was originally published on the old Winterwind Productions site in November, 2013, prior to our switch to WordPress in 2020.