Ever since Double Fine dragged Kickstarter into the spotlight, there have been a steady stream of game developers, old and new, looking to crowd sourcing as a way to fund their niche projects. So far this has proved pretty successful for a number of developers (I've certainly been throwing money at them). One such project which has now actually reached release is FTL by Subset Games.
Originally asking for a fairly tiny $10,000 on the Kickstarter page, over the course of the month they managed to get the attention of 9818 generous souls who happily donated $200,542 allowing them to really make the game they wanted to.
Described as a "spaceship simulation real-time roguelike-like' the key to it's genius is it's simplicity. Jumping from node to node across ten randomly generated zones, you must manage the crew and systems of your spaceship to explore and overcome numerous obstacles in preparation for the final zone.
Straight forward combat encounters involve using a wide variety of lasers, missiles, bombs, beams, drones or even transporting crew members across into the enemy ship to destroy them. The tactics you use vary depending on the type of enemy you face and the equipment installed their ship. Add to that the often hostile environment like a nearby sun or an asteroid field and what seem like simple fights quickly get out of hand with fires breaking out in key systems or crew members too busy making repairs or tackling intruders to man their usual stations.
While combat makes up a large part of your travels, you'll also find yourself encountering numerous situations that need resolving and the outcome is not always certain. In one such scenario, for example, you'll find a pirate ship wedged between two asteroids; if you've got the correct equipment aboard, you can choose to cut them free in the hope of a reward. If not you can simply try to blast them out of their predicament and hope not to destroy them, or simply ignore them. The outcome and reward are never certain and I'll often find myself weighing up the options, particularly if it might risk the loss of a crew member.
That's right... the crew members can die. And they will. A LOT. Whether it's being burnt to death fighting a fire on the ship, or lack of oxygen after invaders take out your life support systems, or being sliced in half by an angry Mantis or, in fact, being eaten by giant spider (god how I hate the giant spiders). And once they are dead, they stay dead. So by the time you're in the later zones and your crew members have gain some skills in piloting the ship, you'll be rather reluctant to put them at risk...
With a number of different unlock able ships, various races (each with unique benefits and drawbacks), so many different weapons, drones and systems available to you, the replayability of this game is amazing. Take individually, each part is pretty simple in it mechanics, but once they are all put together, the tactics available and the depth of customisation puts most AAA titles to shame... and it only costs $10!
There is, as far as I can tell, no right or wrong way to play. And, while I'm sure there will be people with their "perfect build", I have yet to play two games with the same setup (and I've played a LOT of games).
If ever you needed a reason to justify Kickstarter and crowd finding... this is ittags: ftl, indie, pc, review, subset games
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