FTL Video Reflex Review: Space Love/Hate

FTL: Faster Than Light by Subset Games sees the light of day due to the support of 9,818 Kickstarter backers. FTL is a Trek-like take on the roguelike genre.

Watch Josh and Justin take the USS Dave’s Wife (commanded by Mr. Dave, of course) on an ill-fated journey through The Rock’s nebulas, and find out if FTL is worth your hard-earned Hamilton.

This video is intended for a mature audience as our commentary is not kid-friendly:

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Space simulation is a video genre that induces paralyzing fear for outsiders or geek orgasms from its fans. As an outsider, I’ve always been a bit intimidated by it even though I’m a huge fan of sci-fi space adventures in other media. In the same vein, roguelike gameplay isn’t exactly the most welcoming, either, since it tends to enjoy beating players up with brutal dice rolls. So despite FTL’s indie charm, its successful Kickstarter campaign that proved its appeal, I was still worried that the game itself would kick my ass. Apparently, I shouldn’t worry about getting my ass kicked so much because FTL is a space bully who cares.

FTL

Space dicks. They are everywhere.

FTL puts you in charge of a starship and its crew in defense of the Galactic Federation. Star Trek and Firefly fans should feel right at home with the setup. FTL’s action and strategy center around jumping your ship through deep space and encountering random events that range between making new alien friends to engaging and/or fleeing from more hostile races. Managing the various systems in your starship is vital to improving your chances of survival as you try to build up your ship so that it stands a chance against the Rebel Flagship.

If you can get past the fact that, as with any roguelike, your FTL adventure could end at any given moment, it actually becomes a great way to explore its space sim core. The near-inevitability of your death is quite freeing. FTL encourages you to experiment with your crew, battle, and navigation strategies as you learn a little bit about what is and isn’t in your control. Even if you feel overwhelmed it is easy to laugh when your best intentions end up killing your entire crew. It also helps that the soothing synthesized soundtrack helps ease the pain.

Trial and error is the best teacher in FTL, it doesn’t take long for the player to discover his/her inner Captain Kirk. Understanding how to survive by mastering such tasks as repairing damaged systems, managing oxygen flow, maximizing your effective weaponry, and throwing intruders out of the airlock is only half the battle. After a few prerequisite space tragedies, the true structure of FTL really starts to click and the player can start to see where the random events (dice rolls) occur, thus making them more enjoyable than frustrating.

FTL is about the journey and I’ve found it’s almost as fun to retell or listen to stories of failure as it is to play the game itself. The fact that the game plays so well makes FTL stand apart in not only among other great indie titles, but as one of the most accessible space sims available. If you’ve ever had a passing interest in exploring the universe one hour at a time, FTL is what you’ve been waiting for.

FTL was released on Sept 14th, 2012 and is available now for PC/Mac on Steam and through its website via http://www.ftlgame.com.

Reflex Review – Like a memorable meal, some games make a big enough impression that you’ve got to tell other people about them before they’re fully digested.

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