If you’ve forgotten to change your Steam settings to your favorite window as “Library” instead of “Store”, you have no doubt been tempted by all the promises of games as far as the eye can see for pennies – PENNIES! Forty dollar games for the price of two Starbucks drinks, and the latest games at least half price.
And there are all these other games that are less than the gas it costs to go see what Best Buy may have in it’s bargain bin. How can you pass those up? Especially when, in some cases, there are six games for this price?! It’s hard, we know. We’re here to help.
There are a couple of games that have come up in this bargain-bin price range that you should, nay, MUST pick up! They will make your gaming life more complete, more rounded, and are wholly satisfying at any price, but especially at this price.
First on our list: FTL, or Faster Than Light.
FTL has been shouted repeatedly to me during coffee walks and breaks by a coworker, but his description always overwhelmed me. In my head, it sounded something like this :
“It’s like you’re an omnipotent god over Captain Picard/Kirk and you travel space but upgrade things by recovering scrap and can kill your people by sucking the oxygen out and I was up until 3am playing it.” And, let’s be honest, there is something unappealing about playing out Star Trek until 3am to someone that has never watched more than 3 episodes.
I’m here to say that it’s more than a space game. It’s more than a Trekkie game. It’s like playing WoW or Borderlands, where you gear yourself up and get farther and father to your goal, better & better gear, so you skip along and a civilian is being harassed so you think “Fear not citizen! I shall help you!” in your most heroic voice, and then you’re jumped by the obvious trap you were set up for, are killed, and you START ALL OVER. No gear, no levels, from the beginning. On the plus side, the map is completely rearranged, so it’s not horribly boring.
Let’s be more concise to explain what you’re doing in this game. You own a ship with three people and you’re travelling 7ish star systems to deliver important papers. Each star system has about 20 planets, but may be only 6 jumps from entrance to exit. Each jump costs 1 gas, and each stop may result in a battle, a mission, a store, or some random event.
At each battle, you pick up scrap. Scrap is then used for gas, missiles, hull repairs, workers, and ship upgrades. Ship upgrades alone could use up all the scrap – better engine, shields, multiple guns, bots, the list goes on. With SO many things wanting your precious scrap, and scrap dropping so rarely, you have to choose a tactic. Do you invest in the reactor so that you can later invest in your systems? If so, which systems – drone, missiles, engine, shields, med, etc, or the subsystem? Or, do you save your scrap to ensure you have enough gas, missiles, drone parts, and hull repair when they become available at a store? Or, do you invest in the other things a store has for you – a repair arm or miscellaneous bot?
Then the game gets going. You have many pathways to get from the entrance to the exit, and each one with a degree of possible peril. At each landing you may be confronted with a choice. Do you help out a civilian ship that has been overrun with space spiders? Do you go after a fuel federation ship? Do you just try to hold off a fighter and try to jump out as soon as you can to avoid a fiery death? Have enemies been beamed aboard & taking out your subsystems? All of this while the federation gets closer and closer to you. Do you go through the nebulous cloud to slow them down and risk your systems going out because of the electrical failure, or pay someone to slow them down for you, if you get that lucky?
I purchased this game on saturday afternoon and had played 8 hours by sunday night. In that time I ran out of gas and drifted endlessly in space twice, had all my people killed five times, got past the 5th system three times, and was blown to pieces more times than I can count. I have saved people that were under attack, and I have left people to die, much to the disappointment of my crew. I cannot tell you what happens if you deliver your message, because I haven’t yet been able to, though I did manage to unlock another ship that uses drones (note: READ WHAT GUNS DO. Once I figured out it was a disruptor gun, the drone made a lot of sense to use with it). I can say that every moment I type this review, my mouse gets closer & closer to starting up the game again.
It’s addictive, it’s fun, and I’m sure that this time, if I get my reactor then shields up, I can destroy enough to buy a hull arm and…. You know, I think we’re done here.