FTL: Faster Than Light is a simple game, but also utterly compelling. It’s like being on the bridge of the Enterprise, or the Galactica, as if you could be sitting a few feet behind a group of other players, all controlling an individual character… and just imagine how awesome a feature that would be if they actually developed it.
Jenkins, power up the burst lasers! Engine room, I need my jump drive online now! Fire in the med bay, close the blast doors!
There are many games which describe themselves as replayable, but don’t live up to the billing. Game Dev Tycoon, for example, is a very good game, but once you’ve finished the game once, the path towards Valve-esque omnipotence/notoriety can become something of a slog. Similarly, while Papers Please reviewed very well when it first came out, the lure of greater variety on a replay was overshadowed by the prospect of mind numbing document checks and ‘humorous only on the first play through’ government directives.
FTL has a combination of charm, procedurally generated environments, and a wonderful soundtrack, but I suspect that the primary reason I’ve found it so replayable – I’ve probably played it 30+ times now – is because I can’t finish the bloody thing, or even get close. Enemy ships have access to all the same toys that the player does and you’re very much at the whim of how much scrap you can gather early on, which gives every waypoint jump the potential to be your last. It’s entirely possible to have a fantastic start, pick up some great upgrades and crew, and still come up against a ship that obliterates you before you can get jump the hell out of there. No save scumming here either – if your ship is destroyed, you’re given a score and sent packing back to the start.
That said, I haven’t played a game this immersive for a while – when the alarms are blaring, you’ve been boarded by space insects and you’re trying to keep the shields up just long enough to get the oxygen back online and jump away, you’ll want to keep playing again and again, too.