The unprecedented success of FTL: Faster Than Light was one of those big stories, which shook the gaming industry. Along with introducing true Rogue-likes to a new generation, the narrative choices and risk/reward of exploration inspired no end of imitators. This is one of them, but it develops older concepts rather than merely imitating them.
The story here might sound oddly familiar to you: You’re on a lone vessel, the last hope for your people, and pursued relentlessly by an advancing wave of enemy forces. It’s second verse same as the first, at least until you get to the fact this vessel is an ark for the last of humanity, and your FTL drive has been disabled.
Stuck at the back end of the galaxy, you’re left travelling through completely unknown territory, risking everything just to stay alive. Resource management is a priority here as food, water and oxygen stores need to be maintained, so you can’t even just skip worlds to avoid risky ventures. This is truly where the game shines, with no end of new random encounters to bump into, from alien traders to lost human vessels. Each impacts you in a different way, and can lead to entirely new problems for your crew, as you try to balance out necessary resources with their morale, discipline and health.
Of course, not everything can be dealt with purely via diplomacy, and the game features a Star Trek style combat system, commanding engagements from the captain’s chair. This is hit and miss, as it forgoes the expected turn based combat, in favour of a real-time system reliant upon predicting moves. While this sounds good on paper, all it comes down to is ultimately matching coloured lasers with the enemy vessels’ shields. While it certainly can be engaging, there’s a distinct lack of strategic depth to battles.
Many ship elements have been streamlined, so you can no longer designate specific crewmen to certain roles, there’s no ship layout, and many damage related hazards can be near instantly dealt with. The slow burn and lack of early progression can also make for a difficult start, as it never takes the time to break new players into the experience. Add to that a few odd programming errors, especially when it comes to language options, and the game can seem as if it missed some of its towering aspirations.
Despite this, it’s worth stomaching the bad for the good it offers. Any fan of the space strategy genre would do well to pick this one up at the earliest opportunity.
INTO THE STARS / DEVELOPER: FUGITIVE GAMES / PUBLISHER: ICEBERG INTERACTIVE / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW