Most of my gaming experience is playing huge triple-A blockbusters, games like Halo 4, Mass Effect 3, and Batman Arkham City. But every now and then brilliant independent games like Bastion, Braid and currently FTL: Faster Than Light by Subset Games push all of those mega-budget cross platform games aside and devour all of my time.
FTL is a simply executed but brutally challenging game that is one of the most satisfying experiences I have had in some time. It is also an early Kickstarter game project that truly delivered on its promise.
At its heart FTL: Faster Than Light is a throwback to game design of 10-15 years ago when there were very few tutorials, you learned as you played and experimented. It is also a game that literally has perma-death as a feature of the design.
Let’s step back a bit and explain the premise of the game itself. FTL has you playing as the crew of the Kestrel, a moderately outfitted ship that has plans the Rebel fleet want badly. Your goal is to deliver the plans while staying one step ahead of the Rebels. This involves moving your ship from sector to sector while the Rebel fleet continuously pursues you.
Your tasks are to take your initial ship with its starter shields, weapons, and limited crew of three and move through each sector towards your goal. As you pass from system to system you encounter pirates, stations, distress calls and enemy ships who will all test your ship to its limits.
As you defeat enemies or complete simple quests you receive scrap, fuel, missiles and drone parts as rewards. The fuel and missiles are simple to deduce the need for, but scrap is the currency and can be used to upgrade your ship's systems or buy new weapons and parts at the randomly located stations in each sector.