Take command of a space adventure for sci-fi enthusiasts

‘Faster Than Light’ review

By Ryan Volkman, Contributor


A laser beam pierces the shield of your spaceship, igniting and destroying all that lies in its path. Frantically, you order that the airlocks be opened in those compartments, exposing them to the vacuum of space. Almost instantly, the raging inferno is snuffed out from the lack of oxygen.

Then, after resealing it, you send one of your crew members to repair the wrecked shield system. But you didn’t see that the opposing spaceship had already sent out another lethal volley, and it fries your crew member alive. Deep thumps reverberate throughout your space-faring vessel as you fire a barrage of missiles.

Your mission, FTL: Faster Than Light, was assigned to you via Steam and Good Old Games for PC and Mac. It utilizes two-dimensional sprite-based graphics to portray your crewmen and ships. All control in your commanding chair is done with a simple, single button on the mouse, so you can’t blame the controls for your own failures.

Within the game, you are a commander within the United Federation with vital information regarding the invading Rebel Fleet. You must relay this information across the galaxy to save the waning Federation itself. However, this will not be easy, as the Rebel Fleet has heard of you, and will pursue you relentlessly throughout.

You will control the ship on its journey to the other end of the galaxy by the usage of the FTL engine of your ship. If you are not under an immediate threat, you travel by consulting a map with a lot of nodes on it. It shows where you are in the sector, and by what routes you can take. It also shows how close the Rebel Fleet is to catching up to you. Then, by engaging your engine, you travel to one of the nodes and a random encounter will show on the screen. You, as commander, must tell the crew what to do in each occurrence. Beware, for your choices will either help your crew survive, or doom them.

Commonly, you will encounter another vessel that’ll try to pillage your big hulk of metal. Confronting your adversary, you don’t directly control your ship. Instead, the two layouts of your ship and your opponent’s ship are placed side by side and show the locations of all the systems of each vessel. Each symbol represents a type of system, such as the weapon system or the engines. As commander, you order your ship to fire on opposing systems to disable them from usage. While firing on them will deal damage to the opposing ship’s hull, disabling systems will have predictable effects, such as de-powering their weaponry if you shoot their weaponry system. With enough damage to a ship’s hull, the opposing ship will explode, leaving you victorious.

Do not be surprised if many attempts end in failure, with your crew killed, while your ship explodes as climatically as a supernova. If the ship looks like it’s doomed, it probably is, and there’s not much you can do about it. There are no second chances in this mission. If your ship is destroyed, it’s gone for good. No reloads.

That is why we need a commander who doesn’t mind many hours of frustration mixed within a lot of fun; a commander who loves thrilling battles in space, a commander who wants to bring peace to the galaxy itself. So, if you would accept this mission, choose the second star to the right and play straight until the morning.