FTL: Faster Than Light is a 2d sci-fi strategy game that is easy to get the hang of and dangerously addictive.
The story line is fairly uncomplex and to the point. In a broad sense, you are a spaceship with vital information on the run from an aggressive fleet. You have to cross several galaxies to make your way through the story, in a universe map that is presented like this:
The galaxies themselves are slightly more elaborate, each being a series of stars which you can jump to to make your way across the galaxy. With each jump comes the possibility of a random event - be it an attack by space pirates, ambush by a drone, stumbling across a shop or finding a space princess in great need of help.
As you make your way around the galaxy, the enemy fleet creeps closer and closer. At the end of each turn the enemy's control of the galaxy you are in spreads deeper and deeper, and if you end a turn on a star that the fleet controls, you have a large stand off battle with them (which can be very hard to win).
One of the key things to keep in mind when playing FTL is that you will die very frequently and have to start all over again. As each new game is played on a randomly generated universe, this however does not get tedious. It took me several attempts to even get to the second galaxy, and although at times I was very frustrated at myself for being a crap space captain, I soon got over it once I got the hang of which parts of spaceship developing to focus on earlier on.
The majority of events involve or lead up to combat with other space ships. Combat is very fluid, energetic and high paced, especially as your upgrade your ship and advance through the game. It retains elements of strategy, but the rapid clicking and tapping of buttons moves FTL away from the RTS genre and sometimes makes it feel more like a FPS of Hack and slash type game. As shown below combat is done by having an image of your ship and the enemy ship on the screen. At this point, almost like an 8bit City building app on crack, you have to command your crew to perform certain tasks in certain rooms, and organise which guns you will shoot at the enemy.
This involves balancing various elements of your ship at once: the key is often your power. According to how you upgrade your ship, you will have a set power value (for example, 6) some of which (say 2) you can direct to shields, depending on their level, and the rest of the energy you can divert to weapons or subsystems, depending on how you have designed your ship. You may have a missile launcher requiring 3 power, for example. Balancing power can be challenging, especially as Ion weapons can harm your power output. As you advance through the game, you may find yourself balancing remote drones, teleporters, laser beans and bombs, advanced shields, and high level engines (good for dodging) all at once. It depends on your combat style.
FTL offers a lot of space for players to customise their approach to the campaign, both in terms of completing the goals and fighting other ships. There are several different hulls, each with different layouts within to choose from with which to begin the game with, and once you have started both luck and preference play a role in how you can upgrade your ship. In no one game will you ever have every option open to you, rather which weapons and systems you choose to use will be determined on the markets you randomly encounter and what they have for sale. If like me however, you are a fan of teleporting insectoid aliens aboard enemy ships and smashing their brains out, you may want to choose the unlockable mantis heavy cruiser with a 4 person teleporter pad installed as a starting system. If you prefer to stealthily laser beam people, the aptly named stealth ship may be your preferred choice (but beware the lack of shields!). FTL has lots of elbow room to explore different styles and accommodate different means of combat to suite a variety of space obsessed trekkies.
On top of that, the different races also broaden how you can approach the game. You might find that fire weapons keep breaking your engines and weapons, and that you keep losing because all your crew get wiped out by flames. In which case you might want to seek out some Rock crewmen, who are immune to fire damage. You might find that your oxygen room keeps getting damaged and you dont have the time to repair it, and so the Engi might be a good starting point for keeping things fixed during the heat of battle. (Especially if you have had to flush your ship of oxygen because some nasties beamed aboard to kill your crew). Some races give a bonus power point, some have psychic powers that let you spy aboard other ships, and for the more niche players the Lanius constantly drain oxygen out of any room they are stationed in. Handy.
Overall FTL is definitely worth purchasing. It is very difficult to get bored with FTL. In fact, it only left my list of installed games because I reached a point of limbo in that I was great enough to cruise to the final boss, yet not quite so good as to actually beat it... Never the less, every new game of FTL is unique, offering new weapons and missiles and new enemies that will lead you finding stuff you didnt know existed for months after buying it. The real time space combat is unique, with real time reloading and firing time making combat an adrenaline fuelled rush to break through the other guys shields, all as bullets and missiles fly past your ship on screen in real time.As long as you don't run out of fuel, ammo, or crew (legit, you can run out of any three at any point and be left in very awkward situations) you'll be fine. Just go and free space!
A ship in distress.