GOTY 2012 Best Indie Game Runner-Up: FTL

A game that creates tension with a small set of mechanics

It’s hard to know exactly what “indie” means these days, as video games like Minecraft have managed to sell more than established core franchises, on both the Xbox 360 and the PC. Meanwhile, THQ feels that it makes sense to launch a Humble Bundle of its own.

But FTL: Faster Than Light, the game from Subset Games, is undoubtedly one of the leading examples of the genre; it was created by a two-man team who used Kickstarter funds and even delivered on time, to a great commercial and critical reception.

The game is also indie in its spirit, an experience which takes something familiar to most gamers and adds a whole new dimension to a number of gameplay ideas and mechanics.

FTL gives players a spaceship (more can be unlocked by successful play) and tasks them with evading a Rebel fleet by jumping from solar system to solar system and sector to sector.

Players can upgrade the ship, manage the crew, fight alien vessels, deal with surprise encounters, help others and trade.

All of the experiences are familiar by themselves, but FTL upgrades them by adding a roguelike structure, which means that players cannot save and have to deal with the almost inevitable destruction of their ship and the death of its crew.

Surprise, fear and anxiety sit at the core of FTL and each push of the Jump button is a chance to jump up pleasantly surprised by a new weapon that you received for free or morosely settle in for one big fight that will certainly leave a ship crippled and limping along.

FTL is extremely good at giving players the mechanics they need to create their own stories and each of them is surprising and exciting, even for those who have already beaten the final challenge that the game offers.

A full Softpedia review for FTL: Faster Than Light can be found here.

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