Space is pretty big, they say, and filled with stuff. No one is sure quite what that stuff is, but space experts are cautiously optimistic that it’s “pretty wild.” FTL: Faster Than Light is ostensibly a game about voyaging across space, but the roguelike’s real exploration is of systems closer to home: the many ways you are inept and ruin things. It’s a game about accepting that you’ll cock it up and kill your friends, but maybe just save the galaxy one day.
FTL tosses you in at the deep end: the galaxy is in peril, go save it. With a top-of-the-line space ship at your disposal and a highly-trained crew, you set out heroically. Five minutes later, they’re all dead. You lingered too long near a flaring sun and underestimated how quickly you’d burn up. But it’s okay, go again. And again. Over and over, learning quickly by failing and always having fun. You start planning: upgrades you’ll develop; weapons you’d like to find; how you’ll vent boarding parties into space; sectors of space to avoid; first contact protocols. You get cocky, and your dream crew asphyxiate when you choose the wrong battle to experiment with pulsing life support on and off to preserve power. But you start again.
After 25 hours and a spree of increasingly, I finally beat FTL with a ship whose name I’m told I may not include in this story. [Ed's note: It was a cuss word!] I had become frustrated with losing–with myself, never the game–and had started furiously hammering in strings of obscenities as names when I raced to start over. The winning ship is too obscene, I’m told. It was a hard-earned victory, which I savoured for all of five minutes before cheerily naming and launching a glorious new flagship, the USS Sweary Mary. Predictably, the names grew cruder again as I started over and over to unlock more ships, explore more of the universe, try new and unconventional tactics, and stumble across new missions. It didn’t matter, though. I’d won, I finally had a vague idea how to respond to the horrors of space, and I’d overcome my proclivity to ruin everything.
One day, I may even beat Hard difficulty. I’ll need to learn some new cuss words though.
The Shacknews Best of 2012 Awards were determined by ballot voting across the entire Shacknews staff. Garnett, Jeff, John, and Tyler voted for FTL, with Alice choosing it as her personal Game of the Year, earning it 220 points and the 7th place position on our list. The Shacknews Community chose the game as the PC Game of the Year. Stay tuned all week as we reveal all our winners.
The rest is here:
Best of 2012: #7 – FTL: Faster Than Light