“FTL: Faster Than Light” Review
Release date: .
Developers: Subset Games
Recommended age: Everyone.
Verdict: 1/5 stars. It is a shame to see interesting ideas die because they were executed so poorly. This is the black hole where fun should be.
No, no, I can’t go back to doing this. I’ve already wrastled this little doggy once before, on a website which was allegedly about artwork but which then turned into another froge with a bloge, calling FTL: Faster than Light an “airport game”. It’s more fun than calling in a bomb threat, but only slightly less damaging to your health.
Everything I wrote on that day is still true. The crew is still a little baby bunch who will stand in depleted oxygen until they die. Your fun is dependent on whether or not you get the right items and enough scrap to buy the cool stuff with. You play for two hours a session and wonder what the point of it all was. I happened to get to the last form of the final boss and died. I felt no accomplishment for having reached that far. What’s wrong with this game?
The Speedrunner’s Constant is still there, like when your crew member doesn’t teleport back onto your ship because he was in the doorway instead of directly in the room. There’s still the buzzkill felt when you teleport to a sector and have nothing there. Repairs are still something you have to deal with, and they haven’t gotten any better. And the writing… well, I like to say I like New Vegas because everything was written in that B – movie way. This is written in no particular way.
Is that all I can go on about? Of course not. I still have seven paragraphs to fill. I could make it longer. I could make it shorter! But here I am in this Writer’s Heck, forced to give the good stuff to you like force – feeding spaghetti to a spicy kitty cat. Speaking of which, for a space – faring game, there is a noticeable absence of cats in this game. What gives? The perfect opportunity to self – insert your fursona, and you don’t? It’s almost like the devs were normies.
The Alleged Fun in Spaaace
You are the proud commander of The Fresh Ship, with your crew of Uncle Funkel, Woll Smoth, and Carlton, for Carlton is one of the few universal constants. Unfortunately your weapons are awful, so you have to buy more. From where? Randomly – generated shops, with randomly – generated currency earned by randomly – generated encounters. Sometimes you get a menu encounter where you have zero input on the outcome besides having good luck. Part of my crew got eaten by spiders once. Why? Because a computer decided you’re not allowed to have fun.
We already know I think roguelikes are a fundamentally bad idea, with the only good games being those that are as least like roguelikes as possible. If there was a game featuring a sense of palpable progression beyond having your progress disappear into the void (Rogue Legacy), combined with the type of world – building only earned through randomly – generated levels (Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup), and gameplay where it feels you may succeed in spite of whatever dumb build you’ve set yourself up with (Rogue Legacy 2: Electric Boogaloo), then it would be the perfect roguelike, and I would be happy.
It has yet to be, so I’ll whine about something else. The game itself deliberately limits how much fun you can have by capping your maximum power, leading to the situation where I had 400 spare scrap metal, enough to pimp out any Fresh Ship, and nothing to spend it on because I wouldn’t have the power to support it. This is ridiculous. Isn’t the appeal of roguelikes to get as cartoonishly powerful as possible before dying, restarting without consequence, and realising you have an addiction because of this horrible concept? Sorry, whining. But really, now. Capping power leads to micromanaging said power, making arbitrary busywork that isn’t a challenge so much as it’s an unnecessary burden created by bad game design. It’s a challenge to manage your crew aboard the enemy ship so they don’t get shot. It’s less dramatic shifting power from shields to engine control — the white – knuckle thrill of FTL.
About the enemy ship: it’s exciting the first time to breach the enemy hull, set the whole ship on fire, and then kill everyone on board. It’s far less exciting when you’ve done it for the thirtieth time and are tired of how long it takes for your crew to destroy anything. The combat is made even worse by the existence of the bug species which does double damage, because you know you‘re going to need two of them on board, even though it’s random whether you find a shop that sells crew, random whether you’ll get the two bugs you need, and random if you’ll have earned enough money by then. It’s even random whether you can buy the teleporter that beams them to the other ship. Why, exactly, do I have to buy my fun? This isn’t League of Legends.
Yeah, it’s pretty bad.
The basis of what might make a good game, being rooting – tooting space – shooting action, is suplexed into space dirt and turned into space dust dreams. In the absence of an interesting story, dialogue, or — excuse me for uttering this foul word — “lore”, repeated playthroughs only exist to grind through the same dozen or so encounters in the hopes of finding enough good stuff to beat the Big Bad Guy. Any game whose description includes the word ”grind“ is a bad one, except for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, or The Guy Game.
It would be nice to get strong enough to pummel every ship you meet into the dirt, except they get stronger, so you don’t get any satisfaction when you destroy them. It would be nice to be durable enough to be invincible, except your power levels prevent that, so no fun allowed. It would also be nice to have crew members who can hold their breath and not die out when I’m repairing the hull, so I don’t have to do the back – and – forth between the medbay and the broke stuff, in case the developers thought anything else would “dumb down” the sheer visceral thrill of clicking on two different spots a bunch of times.
Those of you who still want to download this game are warned to take a long break after every session and wonder if what they are experiencing is actual entertainment, or just the numbing haze of mindless stimulation. The difference is clear: if one feels they have accomplished something having seen it, then it’s worthwhile. If one does not know why they play it, then it isn’t. This isn’t worthwhile. I cannot recommend it.