We are all coming off the Steam sale with many emotions; happiness, content, and plenty of regret. I didn’t spend as much this Steam sale and it’s not because I already own every game out there. It’s because I’m trying to be more frugal with my money. You would think that the Steam summer sale would be the best time to spend it, but for me, it was like watching the Dow Jones. I saw some games go on sale for 10-20 percent off, but a bit of me told me to wait. Let’s see how far we can take this. How much can I wait to see if that price drops down just a little bit more.
With the concept of “Flash Sales” that Steam held every eight hours, this feeling to hold-off kept me from investing. This was until I saw FTL: Faster Than Light for $4.99. That’s when I decided to jump in and actually purchase something for myself. “It’s only five dollars!” I said to myself. I thought nothing of it. I saw this as some sort of victory over my anxiety to purchase a game. Several hours later the feeling of victory turned back into remorse. I saw FTL on sale for $2.50 during the evil “Flash Sale.” My victory slowly spun into regret and anger at myself. Why couldn’t I just wait?! No! I had to have it now! I could have gotten a cup of coffee for $2.50!
That changed when I booted up FTL. For several hours I was lost in a game that was so hard and challenging, it reminded me of the old school Atari days. Games where you actually had to keep on trying over and over again until you got the hang of it. Asteroids, Pac-Man, Missile Command, these games were about more then just being games. They were about skill, high scores, and bragging rights. Seeing someone’s name from top to bottom of a leaderboard actually meant something.
FTL recreates these feelings to the point where I actually got mad. It made me realize that this generation of gamers are spoiled. When we start games, our goal is to get to the end of the game. We want to see the end that sometimes we forget to enjoy the experience of the game itself. FTL is a challenging game that you could easily rush through without being properly ready for the end. It’s a game that emphasizes taking your time to explore as much as you can because if you don’t, your chances of beating the game become very slim.
Now, FTL is hard but rewarding. I played the game on the “easy” setting to get used to it, and boy did I get used to it! It’s a very unforgiving game, and the learning curve to the game extends to how open you keep your mind. At one point my ship was boarded by four enemies. My units on my ship were quickly slaughtered one by one, leaving just my pilot in the cockpit. Quickly, he was dispatched with the rest of the crew. So I got mad, restarted, and got to a very similar point. I then remembered that you could control the doors. So I opened all the doors while I had my team run into a separate room, and closed those doors behind them, keeping them alive for the time being. The away team that infiltrated my ship quickly died from the lack of oxygen, the same strategy that you would use to put out fires.
Subset Games did a great job re-introducing me to a style of gaming that I thought was once lost. I felt like the commander of the starship Enterprise after mere moments. I could view myself sitting in the captain’s chair giving out commands, yelling at my team. In my mind I could hear Erik yelling at me that he needs time to fix the FTL drive so we could warp out of a dangerous battle. I would yell at another member of my team to engage weapons, as the pilot dodged enemy fire. As this mayhem is commencing, a droid would attempt to heal and fix parts of the ship that would be damaged by enemy missiles. I would feel the emotion of failure as I watch my ship break apart into pieces, and feel powerful when enemies would plead for mercy.
FTL: Faster Than Light is a great game for those who want to be challenged and feel a bit of the old school nostalgia that seems to be lost in games these days, and one of the few reasons why I need to invest into kickstarter titles more often.