FTL (Faster Than Light) is one of the first Kickstarter-funded games to earn heaps of critical praise; praise that it is well-deserved. FTL puts players in command of a starship whose mission is to escape the invading Rebel Fleet. As you flee across a randomly generated universe, you must carefully manage your ship’s resources and crew to survive. The agents of your destruction are legion: rebel ships, pirates, asteroid fields, and more. FTL is also a game of decisions and consequences. Do you stop to protect a merchant ships from attacking aliens or do you ignore their pleas for help and keep going? Do you try to destroy that heavily armed rebel drone or do you try to escape before your shields fail? Each playthrough acquires its own narrative, but they all provide the tension of a particularly action-packed Star Trek episode.
FTL is often referred to as a roguelike because of its randomly generated content and because death is permanent–no loading a saved game after your ship is destroyed. And the game is unforgiving. I’ve played a couple dozen games and I have yet to survive to even the halfway point of my journey. Some might find the minimalist graphics off-putting, but I find the interface to be clean and elegant. This is one of the most compelling (not to mention affordable) games of the year.