Epic Review: FTL: Faster Than Light (PC)

[Editor's Note: Mark had one hell of a lot to say about FTL. Rather than cut his detailed thoughts short, we present them here in their full glory in our first ever Epic Review. Enjoy!]

Captain Woodrow Call has less than ten seconds to live. Through the monitor I see his tiny representation hunkered down heroically in the bridge — a pixelated man in a tiny jumpsuit. Although my game does not make any overt sign of this, in my mind’s eye I can clearly perceive the phaser clutched tightly in tiny pixelated hand, accompanied by tiny pixelated heartbeat and ragged pixelated breaths. Less than a minute ago I was helming a powerful space cruiser with an intrepid and assured crew, master of the starways. Now, on the other side of the screen, I am a helpless observer ineffectually witnessing Call’s heroic last stand.

The doors leading to Drone Control have begun to glow with a pinkish hue, which means the bugs have begun the process of cutting through my reinforced doors. Upgraded with 40 units of scrap, the doors will still only hold for a scant few seconds. Not long enough for the deoxygenated air of the Drone Control chamber to take their lives. If only I’d opened all the vents the moment the filthy insects beamed inside… if only the crew had fled back to the pressurized safety of the main cabin — maybe… maybe.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The Lonesome Dove may not have looked like much, but she had it where it counts, kid. Two massive guns — laser and ion — fed by a juiced up hyper-overclocked reactor. Cloaking systems; autopilot; missile batteries. Upgraded engines. Level 2 Medibay. All the amenities of spacefaring life… Now, sensors are down. Sensors are always down at times like these. I never upgrade them.

Even before the power failed the outlook was dire aboard the Dove. The ship’s outer hull — pierced in multiple places by jagged rips — was bleeding oxygen out into the vastness of space. Green readouts flash. HULL INTEGRITY AT TWENTY PERCENT. Klaxons blare. There are no longer any dots moving about anywhere on board. No visible readouts… which means my crew… all of them… are dead. Gunnery officer Burt. Dead. Engineer Clint. The Zoltan. The robotic Engi enigmatically named Sue — dead several days earlier from giant space spiders. A small mercy.

The bugs continue to cut. Outside, another ion pulse from the enemy ship reduces my shields to a single blip. In a sad attempt at humor, the transporter tubes come back online with a ping.

There was where it all went wrong, I reflect. The tubes. It was the captain’s call to send the away team over to the enemy ship. How could I have known that that a stray bream and an ion pulse in quick succession would knock the transporters out — and like a chain of dominoes falling, claw away my ability to recall my best fighters in time? 40 seconds without beam-me-up-Scotty was more than enough to strand my hand to hand specialists in the belly of the enemy ship. Cut off from all aid, I could only watch helplessly as they were slaughtered one by one by the evil mantis. Without a strong melee presence aboard the Lonesome Dove we couldn’t hope to defend ourselves in their absence. The bugs teleported aboard and came for me.

The aliens finish cutting through the door. Four abreast, they storm the bridge. Call’s phaser makes a “pew-pew” noise as the leader carves off almost a third of his remaining life with a single swipe. The pain doesn’t last long. A stray missile, somehow evading the ship’s defense drones, pierces the Dove’s shields and slams into the engine room. In a flash of light, my beautiful vessel meets fiery annihilation, as its hull rupturing down the center like the Edmund Fitzgerald. The mysterious crystals we picked up in Sector 2 — whatever they are — will never be delivered to the Zoltan homeworlds. Everyone will perish here… including those mantis bastards. Such are the last thoughts of Captain Woodrow Call.

Silence. Achievement unlocked: Made it to Sector 8. New ship unlocked!

BLEEP. BLOOP. RESTART? Y/N?

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