FTL, just enough strategy


I recently bought a new house and have been moving so life is pretty busy right now. Needless to say that gaming time has been pretty limited, but one game has been keeping my interest with what little downtime I have – FTL.

FTL: Faster Than Light

FTL: Faster Than Light isn’t a new game, it’s been out for a while and to rave reviews. I read them and the game sounded good but one thing stopped me from picking it up before – the price. The $10 price tag on the iPad version seemed kind of steep. I’ve been burned by game apps before – we all have – so I passed it by. But then just last week, I was browsing the App Store and saw it listed….I said “heck with it” and dropped a Jefferson…and I’m happy to report that I got great returns for my investment.


You’ll become very familiar with this view. Mmmmm…buttons…

FTL is best described as a space ship captain simulator. You’re in charge of spaceship that is trying to save the Federation…or something like that. Actually, the story does make some impact on this game but more so in story decision points, like “Do you want to help the refugees?” Regardless, you’re being chased by the Evil Empire and you need to navigate space to escape. Of course, along the way you’ll have to do battle and keep your ship in proper working order.

You get to equip your ship with weapons and utilities, give your crew members jobs and then orchestrate attacks on enemy ships. However, unlike some past simulators, FTL manages to find the sweet spot between micromanagement and action. You do have to manage some resources and decide how to make your spaceship the best it can be, but then you get to use it to fight and then adjust. The pacing of action-to-command is just top notch and has kept me playing for a week straight without even considering other games.

Fly, try, do it again

One great aspect of FTL is the need to play over and over again in order to understand and get good at the game. You get one life per ship and then you have to start over. The kids call this a “rougelike” but I just call it a video game. Knowing you don’t have any save points means you’re more apt to try different strategies the next time you play.

I’m usually a player that saves his in-game money to buy super power-ups or whatever, but in FTL there’s no point to stuffing your mattress because you might die at the next planet. So I load up with goodies every chance I get and it’s a wonderful, fun experience. Because of this dynamic, your game time can range from 5-minutes to 30-minutes before you meet your end (or win).

It should also be said that there is a ton of content in FTL that you can unlock. From spaceships to alternate ship layouts and things in between…and they’re all free! FTL is a complete game without any in-app purchases…of course, for $10 it better be a complete game.

For someone who doesn’t usually enjoy simulation games, FTL has won me over with it’s low barrier to entry and a longtail of strategy and unlocks. If you think $10 is too much for an app game, then buy FTL through Steam for your PC. Although I will tell that playing on the iPad is wonderful and the touch controls are great…a mouse just wouldn’t create the same experience.

Top image credit

FTL: Faster Than Light

8.5 Make it so
  • Presentation 7
  • Gameplay 8
  • Challenge 9
  • Longevity 10

About Author

Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

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