Developer: Subset Games
Link: Official Site
FTL (Faster Than Light) is an interesting hybrid between roguelike strategy and almost a choose your own adventure game. You take the role of a Federation ship fleeing The Resistance army with an important cargo package. Charting your own course from event to event, you need to find a perfect balance between fuel expenditure and grabbing enough supplies and upgrades, as well as replacement fuel, to prepare you for the late game. All the while, the resistance fleet slowly gains on you the more time you spend before you jump to the next system on your way back to the Federation.
The events you encounter are widely varied, even more so if you get the advanced edition with the DLC. Almost anything can happen, be it getting into a firefight with a resistance ship, having the choice to save a ship from giant spiders, or meeting other alien races and aiding them for a reward… or blowing them to kingdom come if you so choose. The events generally come in two forms, text based and combat based. The text based evens usually provide you with a choice, and then determines your outcome accordingly. Many give you the option to simply ignore the event entirely, such as in the case of the spiders, but others might force you to either give up a crew member to slavers or fight your way out.
Speaking of combat, the game has a simple and intuitive, yet expansive combat system. Both your ship and the enemy ship are stationary on screen. Your available weapons charge up, and you select where to fire them, targeting specific parts of the enemy ship. Having certain parts of the ship manned also improves on those aspects of your ships stats. For example, having a pilot manning the controls rather than leaving it on autopilot improves your chances to dodge enemy fire. All of these rooms do require power though, which is in limited supply until you start getting the right upgrades. This can lead to some really fun and really clutch moments, like killing a boarding party by locking them in a room with a hull breach and turning off the oxygen, hoping they suffocate before the rest of your crew.
While you can deactivate certain rooms and functions, taking damage can also disable them, requiring the need for repairs. If your weapons system gets damaged, your weapons shut off until its repaired. Same goes for the engines, oxygen, etc. The good news is the enemy ships work the same way, so with a little skill and some luck, you can completely incapacitate some enemy ships. You can also board their ship if you have a teleporter and just get rid of the crew, which also nets you a lot more salvage from it. With so many types of weapons and upgrades, there are near limitless strategies you can incorporate, and all of the alien races you can recruit have their own perks and unique abilities as well, further adding to the strategy. The game also allows you to pause combat and then make commands, making it much easier to play with iPad touch controls, or just less stressful to play in general, allowing you to think and take your time.
Unfortunately, the random nature of the events can also make a run quickly unwinnable. Running into a resistance ship near a flaring sun has caused the end of many runs. Even if you do manage to get to the end of the game, the final battle has the odds heavily stacked against you, requiring a ship capable of at least managing against three different types of strategies.
While FTL is an amazingly fun game, its better to approach it as more of an interactive story than something you’re looking to beat. Even the best laid plans can fall into ruin thanks to RNG, like randomly being boarded when all you want is a place you can rest and heal your crew who is on the verge of death. It can become a frustrating mess if you’re trying to beat it in the more traditional sense.
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