FTL: Faster than Light is a self described spaceship roguelike-like. That second “like” isn’t there by accident. Rouglikes have traditionally been fantasy inspired turn-based RPGs, heavy on the stats and challenge, but light on art assets. Last year’s Dungeons of Dreadmore garnered a lot of success by wrapping that traditional dungeon crawling gameplay with charming and attractive sprite-based graphics, and a healthy sense of humor, especially regarding the genre’s famously punishing difficulty and enforced permadeath.
The two man team behind FTL are straying from that formula in significant fashion. Most obviously, rather than playing a single adventurer in an (often IP infringing) fantasy realm, you take command of a single starship and its crew racing across a hostile galaxy. Most of the gameplay involves jumping to a new planet or star system, encountering randomly generated events and engaging in combat with other ships. Keeping your ship in one piece requires carefully managing the power distribution of your ship between engines, weapons, shields, life support and internal security (for when you’re boarded by pirates!). You will also need to dispatch members of your small crew to repair vital components, suppress fires or repel invaders, all in real-time! Forget the smuggler class in Star Wars: the Old Republic, this game is as close as we’ll get to feeling like Han Solo or Captain Mal Reynolds, trying to keep your ship in the sky in a galaxy teaming with pirates, slavers and hostile aliens.
Like Dungeons of Dreadmore, FTL uses a simple, but endearing art style. The music already on display from Ben Prunty is pretty fabulous as well. Currently the game is targeting a release in August of this year, but as luck would have it you can try it today courtesy of Onlive’s 2012 IGF showcase. All you have to do is go to their site, sign up for a free account, install their client and in seconds you can be playing a free 30 minute demo of FTL. If you like what you see, and I think there’s a good chance you will, allow me to draw your attention to the just launched FTL Kickstarter.
The FTL team was looking for $10,000 to cover the expenses to finish the game, but they’ve already hit that milestone with another 32 days to go. Still, only $10 will get you the finished game on Windows, Mac or Linux, and more than that will net you bonuses like access to the exclusive beta, a digital art book and sound track or a limited edition poster. And this point it looks like they will overshoot their original asking amount significantly, and it will be exciting to see what other plans they might have for the excess funding.