Faster Than Light
By: Kevin Faltisco
It seems that all of a sudden every other game out there wants to somehow work a “permadeath” function (when you die , your character is erased and you must make a new one) into their game. While this isn’t an entirely new concept for gaming it can be frustrating for some when used in ARPGs like Diablo, Borderlands, and Torchlight, however; it is optional in these games. Faster Than Light forces you to play with permadeath, and I would not want it any other way.
Faster Than Light can best be described as The Oregon Trail in space because there are so many similarities in overall gameplay. Where they differ is the added depth and attention to finer details that Faster Than Light has. The gameplay centers around the idea of you having very little to start with and a wide array of upgrade paths, and equipment to buy. You start out with only one ship, The Kestrel, in your hangar with several more that can be unlocked by completing achievements, which for once; are actual achievements and you will feel like you actually accomplished something when you get them, especially when playing on normal difficulty. With the galaxy being randomized every play through, nothing is guaranteed to be at the various shops you find (if you find them, more on that later).
Welcome to your objective HUB
Throughout the game you will be looking at a sort of cross-section of your ship that depicts where all the rooms are, where your various systems and sub-systems are located, and where your crew members are located. Each new planet, nebula, sun, etc. you visit will usually have some sort of dialogue option for you to pick based on whatever is happening in there, and more often than not, there will be a chance for someone on your crew to die when there’s a battle with an enemy ship or some other cause of your ship taking damage. This is where the game really starts to get interesting, because if you want to have scrap for making purchases, or more crew members without having to hire them, you will need to take these risks. This is what will probably make or break this game for you. Oh yeah and you better hurry up and get out of the current sector you are in before the rebel fleet catches up with you.
Your ship, your ship, your ship is on FIRE!
So what’s the verdict? The game is random above all else but I personally find that to be the best part about the game because you never know what you are about to get into, and you will have to make decisions based on what you have, not what you would ideally want. The only problem is the rebel fleet that is constantly chasing you, which is actually a nice touch because you won’t always find a shop before you have to leave the sector and then you don’t know whether you should spend scrap on system upgrades for your ship or save it in hopes of finding a shop with a good weapon, or ship augmentation. Should the rebel fleet actually catch up to you, get ready for an EXTREMELY difficult fight unless you have somehow been blessed with a massive arsenal of weapons and have multiple shield upgrades. But you don’t have any indication of how much ground the rebel fleet will cover when you make your next move and that too appears to be just random. This is a relatively minor complaint as you will never have trouble getting to the sector’s exit before the fleet catches you however, you may miss a huge chunk of sector discovery in the process.
There’s really not much to talk about here. You click on things and they do stuff. You choose which option you want in dialogues. What I can say is they REALLY paid attention to detail. Since you have complete control over the doors on your ship, provided your door control sub-system isn’t destroyed, you can open doors from the airlocks to rooms that are on fire to put out the flames (once the oxygen levels in the room go to 0%) and you can also thwart invading parties with the same tactics provided you have blast doors. Blast doors can’t be opened by invaders and must be destroyed giving you more than enough time to snuff out all of the oxygen and watch them slowly die. Or you can teleport to their ship and take that over provided you haven’t destroyed the enemy’s teleporter first.
Nothing to write home about, but this don’t take anything away from the game. You can tell what is going on so I have no complaints.
Not intended to win best graphics of the year
I play with all sounds and music off and just turn on Pandora internet radio :) The sounds and music aren’t anything special but they really don’t need to be for a game like this.
I bring this up because I really hope this game gets updates and/or DLC. It’s not that I feel the game doesn’t give you enough to do, it certainly does; it’s more the fact that there is so much more that can, and should, be done with this game. I would not think twice about paying for DLC that provided us with more upgrades, weapons, ships, difficulty levels, alien races, etc. Or even if they released something that allowed you to play through a similar experience from a different perspective like say... the rebels.
If you don’t like games that are driven by randomness STAY AWAY FROM THIS GAME! But if you liked The Oregon Trail or if this rambling made the game sound interesting, you can pick this up for $9.99 on Steam. I know there are a lot of blockbuster titles out there now, but this game doesn’t demand anything close to the attention they do and is very light on the system requirements so you can always fire it up while you wait for people to join your Borderlands 2 or Torchlight 2 game. Just sayin’...