It’s been a while since I spun up FTL, the mini space exploration/survival (survivoration?) game released a few months back on Steam. Stuck here on this flight back to San Francisco from Toronto, Macbook jammed firmly against my gut with one elbow wedged against a dude to my left and the other scraping the fuselage, what better time to jump back into it at times tranquil but mostly panicky gameplay. Being the only game installed on this machine may have also helped its cause. Too bad I don’t have a flight-sim ready to go. This game does have a ton of interesting achievements that I have yet to unlock. The one I set out to accomplish today: ‘Coming in for my Pacifism run!’. The requirement: ‘Get to Sector 5 without firing a shot, using an offensive drone, or teleporting’.
The mechanics behind FTL are dead-simple. You command a spaceship, instructing it to jump from one sector to the next, with each sector presenting a random encounter such as a shop or a pirate battle, as well as offering a list of sectors that can be jumped to once the encounter has been resolved. Much of the ‘resolution’ involves upgrading the arsenal of your ship and unleashing it against a multitude of hostile opponents. Well, the requirement for this achievement precluded me from blasting my way through any of the obstacles I might encounter, so I had to develop an unusual strategy.
At the beginning of each play through you are presented with a choice of a few different spaceships, each offering a different default weapons load-out, as well as some differences in engine capabilities, shield strength etc. At this point I only have three of the nine possible ships unlocked, and none of them offer any defensive bonuses out of the gate. It seemed my best choice was ‘The Torus’. At least it has the ability to use drones at the start of the game. With a little luck I might encounter a shop early on that had a repair drone for sale, or perhaps one that could intercept incoming missiles long enough for me to charge up my drive and make the jump to the next sector.
The first couple runs were unlucky and I was repeatedly overwhelmed with a ship consumed by fire, crippled systems, and an asphyxiating crew; par for the course in this game really. After a few tries I did manage to get just a little bit lucky. The third sector I visited contained a store, though it didn’t have the drones I was looking for. Still, I was able to scrap all of my ship’s default weaponry for.. well for scrap, the game’s currency. I then converted the scrap into some engine and shield upgrades, hoping I would be able to jump away from danger a little faster and survive a few more shots before my ship started busting at the seam. It worked! With just two points in shields and two points in the engines, combined with what I’m sure was a little more luck, I made a bee-line for the exit of each system, narrowly escaping a legion of foes looking to take advantage of my pacifist nature. I only went out of my way a couple times to have my ship’s hull repaired at a store, or to respond to distress beacons that offered hope for a little extra scrap that I could exchange for said repairs, or maybe a little fuel. Before I knew it I was in sector 5, the ever oh-so-satisfying ‘achievement unlocked’ popup appeared, and I quit. There was no way I was going to actually win with this configuration. After all, I was never able to beat this game on easy while using every trick I could think of. FTL is just a tad bit challenging.
I’ve been thinking about writing a review on FTL or one of the other games I’ve recently played. However, this isn’t that. Instead, this is my attempt to get the little experience I’ve had down to words; something that I’m not compelled to do often, if at all. I’ve been looking to start doing some sort of writing about games. Reviews seem like a natural starting point, and I may try a few of those, but I think approaching the subject from a different angle may have more naturally interesting results. Perhaps writing a post based on a challenging, bizarre or otherwise interesting achievement could be the basis for a series of blog posts. What do you think? Are there any achievements you feel deserve special attention? Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear your suggestions.