The word ‘indie’ irritates me.
‘Back in the day’, when I was in my early 20′s I would’ve appreciated it more but now I just can’t abide it, nor everything it implies. So when a new supposed ‘gem’ of an indie game pops up I roll my eyes and move on.
This is probably the wrong attitude to have, because these developers should be applauded for what they’re doing but sometimes I just feel like the idea that ‘less is more’ really does just mean ‘less’ and that’s that.
However, occasionally you do find a genuine gem that hits all the right notes and Faster Than Light is one of those. For the most part.
The key to FTL is in its simplicity. The game is very accessible and easy to pick up, but after having given it at least 20-30 play-throughs over the course of many, many lost hours I can attest to the very real fact that this is one tough nut to crack.
Conversely the game also has incredible depth for such a small, short game. With a number of races to play as, and a number of different ships (and variations of those ships) to pilot the options are great.
And with a completely different path to the end-game every time, you’re never guaranteed to face the same obstacles – or even difficulty – each time you play.
Each race has its advantages, and each race has its negatives. As with many games, the starting race is ‘human’ and, if you’ve ever played an RPG, you’ll know that humans rarely get any kind of ‘bonuses’ or special abilities, as they are considered to be the most adaptable; jacks of all trades, if you will.
However, I found the humans the best race to play as, as they were definitely the most adaptable. One race has a starting ship with massive plating but with slow and cumbersome crew. Another ship has quick and agile crew but they’re very susceptible to physical combat and you may (or may not) be boarded at any time, and no matter how good your ship, you will lose quickly without a mixed-race crew (perhaps that’s the message… ?)
The biggest negative I can raise against this game is the ‘boss battle’. It lets the previous couple of hours down enormously as, after putting much time and effort into honing your ship and crew, and really giving thought to how you’ve kitted out your weaponry and so on, you’re faced with a ramped up difficulty curve and a practically impassable boss by the games end.
Not only that but you’re faced with a number of almost impossible battles before you even reach this boss.
Those gripes aside, I finally took the boss down to his final bar, only to see him jump to another sector and to have to fight him again. At full-strength.
This may not have been such a huge issue, but I remained at the strength I was when I had clearly defeated him and at that point I didn’t even check to see if I could save – I left the game and haven’t been back since.
You see, I can happily take a tough game. I’ve played many of them. I even went and bought – and started – Dark Souls, so I’m not wilting flower. But games that are just straight up, unnecessarily hard and just elevate the difficulty from one stage to the next are, in my opinion, cheating. If I fail because I made a mistake, or didn’t prepare properly, then I can handle it but I hate to feel like I’ve been cheated.
That is how FTL left me feeling.
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