First in the “Ronald Recommends” series, this is not the first time where I wax eloquent about a game YOU ALL MUST PLAY. Today I extol the virtues of FTL: Faster than Light, an indie game that is 75% off on Steam until July 5 and only costs $2.49. It also available on iPads. GET IT NOW!
The premise of the game is what I like to call “Star Wars in reverse”: you have vital information that you must smuggle through hostile space, but you work for the Federation and the people hunting you are the Rebels.
You focus on managing your ship and crew, as you encounter aliens and random encounters along the way. You must make decisions as to how to deal with mysterious abandoned vessels, or offers for trade. But the main gameplay consists in BATTLES. Many, many battles. And with Rebels and pirates who get progressively harder as you reach your destination.
You will need to make decisions like whether to focus power in your weapons or your shields, or for your engines for a quick getaway! Or open and close doors to deny oxygen to fires that have started on your ship to keep them from spreading, or to deal with hostile aliens who have boarded your ship!
As with tabletop RPGs, you get to grow more powerful over time. Here, your spaceship is your “character” — you get to outfit it with better armor and weapons. Your ship has engines, shields, weapons, doors, sensors, cloaking devices, and a reactor that powers all of these subsystems. You get to spend “scrap” (the currency of the galaxy) to make improvements to your ship. One improvement is to add robotic drones to defend your ship, attack other ships, repair . You also get to find (and lose!) crew members due to the dangers of space. There are many other things you can add, including teleporting systems to send your crew over into hostile ships as boarding actions!
So who will like this game? People who like a CHALLENGE — the game does not let you go back to a previous save, so consequences are PERMANENT. It forces you to think about your strategies and how to optimize against various perils you will face; and how best to defend against a wide variety of dangers. You will like this game if you enjoy learning through trial and error, hard work, and eventually vanquishing a worthy foe. You will also like this game if you’ve ever wanted to think of yourself as captain of a starship,
Who will not like this game? You will not like this game if you don’t like managing a lot of elements. You are juggling a LOT of plates: it can be frustrating to focus on protecting your ship from hostile fire and finding a way to penetrate three layers of shields, only to find that you neglected a breach in your hull that caused your ship to lose all its oxygen. Thankfully, you are able to pause the game at any point to reflect over your decisions, and in fact the game assumes that you do. (Only true masters are able to play without pausing the game.) Also, this is not a lore heavy “Star Trek” exploration experience. The core of the gameplay is improving your ship and overcoming increasingly difficult battleships.
Here is a YouTube review of FTL if you want a video review. (Great review, but I disagree with it being “a little too luck based,” as skilled players can consistently beat the game.)
That’s it for now! And I assure you this won’t be the last thing that “Ronald Recommends”!