Brief Note on FTL
By ahoodedfigure 14 Comments
Played a lot of FTL. At the start I enjoyed it, I was unlocking things and running into impossible odds and dying like you're supposed to in games like this. But what's remarkable is how much luck plays a role in this game. Unlike a game like Spelunky, which has tons of random elements which become predictable when you see how they work and fit them together, FTL's randomness doesn't really calm down. Many games in, I'm still blindsided by an event that puts me in the middle of a battle with multiple drones plowing into my shields before I can even charge my weapons up, or puts me up against a ship with a shield level that my weapons just can't break through no matter what I do. So many of the basic encounters depend upon you finding a store that sells weapons, having the scrap to be able to buy one, and then having the scrap to upgrade the weapons generators in order to be able to cut through the slowly increasing level of shields from enemy ships. Some starting weapons loadouts are doomed to be obsolete after 1 or 2 sectors, meaning if you're not lucky enough to run into a weapon, you're pretty much fucked. That, and the end boss disobeys some of the rules you learn throughout the game. Maybe the roguelikes this game was styled after have bosses that do that? I don't know, I've never gotten to the end of a traditional roguelike. It doesn't feel as smooth as roguelikes I have played, though, whether or not you'd consider this to be a roguelike at all.
There's a lot to enjoy: the text choices, when not cheap, are fun and add a lot of atmosphere to what is a fairly static presentation. When luck is on your side, or you succeed despite your lack of luck, it feels like a triumph. And the miracles and good strategy that turns a possible defeat into a victory are rewarding, as well as the sense that you're actually PROUD of your crew for surviving, even if it was really just you telling them what to do.
I can't say I regret my purchase of FTL, but I feel like it needs finer tuning to allow for more ship configurations to at least make it a decent distance before being annihilated. If it was just difficulty I wouldn't even mention it, but it seems to be difficulty coupled with being randomly slapped upside the head, which for some folks isn't so pleasant. I still do play it now and again and once in a while I unlock something new, though many of these newer configurations seem more challenging to get right, and so many designs seem to suggest that moderation in all things (i.e. getting shields for the shieldless, etc) that you're sort of picking your own handicap a lot of the time. If I ever beat the game, I'll let you know.
Any questions you want to ask about the game, feel free. That includes players who are wondering about others' experiences.