It’s perhaps interesting that the mobile version of a PC game is the one that gets the “Advanced” edition, but we’re not going to question the thinking that drives the work of the awesome Subset Games. When the original FTL launched last year following a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised around $200,000 in pledges despite having a modest target of just $10,000 in mind, it was gobbled up by indie-loving PC gamers thanks to some incredibly deep gameplay and a wondrous sense of adventure and exploration.
Not much has changed for this iPad version apart from the fact that you can now take it with you wherever you go although the move to touch-based control has been hugely successful, allowing for much speedier navigation throughout the game world, more intuitive interactions with your crew and faster flicking through the various information screens.
If you haven’t played the original, then you might be a little wary of FTL based on screenshots. Truth be told, it’s an ugly game even for an indie. It doesn’t look like graphical flair was high on the agenda for the two-man development team, and even when things look decent enough, the almost complete lack of meaningful animation renders everything a little stagnant eventually. Of course, none of that makes any real difference once you start playing the game though, as there’s just so much to see and do that by the time the random encounters start repeating themselves you’ll probably have forgotten about their first appearance.
FTL is a space exploration game, and if that sounds a little nerdy, that’s because it is. In fact it’s a LOT nerdy. But that’s also why it’s awesome. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a game with so much to explore wrapped in such an intuitive and easy-to-learn interface, and that’s why FTL has been such a success.
Tactics and on-the-fly number crunching play a huge role in FTL, but as dull as that sounds, it’s actually a lot of fun. As you upgrade the elements of your ship, you’ll be forced to turn off non-essential devices and features to maximize your use of the ship’s power source, which can be a real brain teaser at times, while your crew will play a big part in the efficiency of your performance – having certain crew members in specific rooms will reduce the strain on your power resources as they are more adept a managing certain tasks and operations than others.
The main action in FTL happens through the game’s random battles. As you explore initially, you’ll be eased gently into the combat system, and it’s unlikely you’ll struggle too much, even if you’re a complete newcomer. Once you’ve found your feet and started exploring the stars, though, you’ll notice that certain systems are more hostile than others, and careful planning of your excursions will be key to maintaining a stable ship and safe crew.
It might not be much to look at, but with so much to explore here, and with lots of new content added (all of which is available free to PC players), FTL: Advanced Edition is one of the purest and most enjoyable tablet games in recent memory. It might not do anything too crazy on a technical front, but it’ll nevertheless manage to take up hours of your life, and then some!