Faster Than Light
Faster Than Light
Developer: Subset Games
Platform: PC (Steam/download)
Faster than Light is a rougelike set in space, where you fight gigantic spaceships, manage your crew and power resources and just try and survive. Originally starting as a Kickstarter campaign, the highly engaging game may end up on a lot of end of the year lists for just being down right fun and inventive in the galaxy it tries to create.
Faster Than Light works like a lot of rougelikes do. Travel to the next area, fight what you need to fight and then continue about your business. Faster than Light does have real-time space battles with lasers, drones and all sorts of high-tech weaponry, but it still doesn’t forget that you’re still moving from one area to the next just to get to your goal. Despite the battle being real-time you can pause to take a breather and adjust your situation accordingly and if it wasn’t for that mechanic, this game would be ten times harder and I would curse ten times more than I already do.
The game’s stressful situations seem to boil over quicker than a tussle on the Battlestar Galactica. There is no crew mutiny or any disparity between race or order, but things can get out of hand when you’re unprepared for a battle, your ship has three fires you can’t put out and your doors are broken. The game is incredibly dynamic but at times things do get a bit familiar when you play it enough, certain areas and nebulas become familiar but not enough to make you stop playing.
What truly keeps the game interesting is the multiple strategies you begin to form based on your ship, crew and weaponry. You will need to utilise every single part of your ship to truly survive and you often have to take risks, lose crew members and often play the game by ear. The game’s distress beacons and friendly (and unfriendly) encounters truly make the game feel as though you’re really in control of a ship trying to make it through space. At the end of the day, the only similar experience I could compare it to would be a mix of Artemis Space Bridge and Dungeons of Dredmor and I cannot suggest those titles any harder.
While the game, visually, is nothing to write home about, it still helps bring the theme of the game across. The spiralling galaxies, the beautifully crafted nebulas and all of the background animation help bring a level of ambience to the game but it never really feels more than a template to remind you you’re in space and this is a space game and you’re on a spaceship. Speaking of spaceships, there are only a few that you can unlock in the game and as cool as they are, a ship is a ship is a ship. It’s great to start off with a few advantages but the real standouts are the ships you’ll be blasting into debris.
However, some of them begin to show up over and over again and makes you think that the creativity in the universe is waning or that they weren’t the key feature for the developer. Your cre members look like 16-bit characters who blasted their way through an SNES console that was chucked into orbit. They’re cute little movement as they hurry across your ships schematics often feel out of place, as well as their walking-in-place animation for healing, but it is often a ray of light when everything is down and you’re opening the air-lock to put out a fire.
Graphically, Faster than Light isn’t too great, but is still visually interesting and enough to make you smile, gasp and say “wow” during some initial interactions.
With a stunning electronic ambient soundtrack, Faster than Light makes space feel like a sad cocoon that you want to break out of. The pounding beats, the sad strings and the sweet melodies echo through your ears as you try and fight every space pirate and Mantis ship in the galaxy. I really regret not getting the soundtrack with the game and I really hope Ben Prunty gets more work off the back of this game.
The sound effects fit perfectly, like something out of Star Trek, with each laser strike, FTL travel and door open, sounding like an old sci-fi show. The game only goes so far to really draw you into the experience and when alarms sound and intruders arrive, the game makes sure you don’t miss a beat. I’d say playing this game with the sound on is essential, but I’ve played a few quite sessions and with a keen eye you can get by.
- A lot to unlock and an amazing range of weapons, ships and crew members
- A beautiful and engaging ambient soundtrack
- Replayability through the roof
- The game leaves much to be desired graphically
- Game can get either too boring or frustrating for those not set in for a long haul
- You will die a lot
A truly dynamic, fun and strong indie title with more replay value than most AAA titles. While some parts of the game could be improved or bested, for $10 you could do a hell of a lot worse and have a lot less fun. Faster Than Light has easily proven that indie games don’t have to be short or one-time experiences, I could play FTL all day if I had the time, but sadly, I have a ship to run.
Written by HE