The choice is everything in FTL: Faster Than Light, a game to which I have recently returned and now I would swear happily never to go out again. FTL is, above all, a game about deciding what to do. Where to travel, when to buy, what to shoot, even where your small crew member is, if you are lucky enough to have a spare one. You can delve deeper into micro-management or the broader and deeper concepts of FTL and you will always do it again. Choice, choice, choice. But where your options really stand out, and where FTL stands out, even all these years after the launch, is when it asks you to make those blind choices.
Blind elections are, in my opinion, often quite horrible. The great blind and stuck narrative choice with a side of disappointing consequence is in vogue among the blockbusters of the open world. Most of the time he sits there because the core demographics respond well to buzzwords, and most of the time it is the worst of the game he is in. Working for forty, fifty, eighty-odd hours of a game to find you I got the final evil by killing the enemy called wrong when you left the tutorial area, probably six months ago, according to my pace of play, it is not, in my opinion More humble, fun. You return from the war, triumphant, and you find that your hometown caught fire because you said something bad for a guy (who was a jerk and deserved it totally), and was enraged while you were away. Or you can't, I don't know, play about ten hours more of a game that you love because you didn't feed the giant fish with a peach three times and you got on one leg (this sounds like Sekiro but that gets a pass because it's ridiculous enough as to be good, in fact, so ignore it). You understand. I am very aware that it could be I who struggles with blind choice and consequences, and I am aware that entire studies (BioWare) built a reputation on them, but still. He is not a fan.
But FTL! Of course, FTL, the perfect video game, does this well. For some reason, I find that blind election in FTL is the absolute opposite of blind election anywhere else, refusing to look for the chances of success or possible outcomes when, in almost all other games, I prefer to spoil everything for good. of making the right decisions. I think part of that is not being invested in those stories: Assassin's Creed Odyssey is wonderful, for example, but I play it for everyone who plays in Mykonos and people who play Spartans off the ledges, not for sporadic melodrama based on choice, while in FTL the consequence is the game, and the game It is the story. You lose Dustin the Engi to giant alien spiders, and you are also losing the best engineer on your ship and a level two weapons expert that you've been training throughout the race. You lose that guy and that matter, so he really feels it, so he really cares about keeping the surprise and the veil of ignorance about what decision leads to what. Inadvertently ruining Kassandra's story by stabbing a guy who really looked like you should stab is a bit annoying.
However, there is something else that FTL adds, which makes them specifically narrative options: those that appear in the event pop-ups when you arrive in a new sector and you have to choose between defending an innocent pirate trader or sneaking away; or send crew to help put out the fire of an allied ship completely to rescue the few who could escape, really explode, above the rest. The random possibility, that thing we are supposed to hate, is really the secret ingredient in FTL. Giant alien spiders are a great example (I am using this again because it is not one that spoils anything really interesting and, in addition, because it is a silly and worn joke that I love). The risk is actually quite high: there is a great chance that you will lose a crew member, which can be incredibly valuable, and the reward, if successful, is quite low. It is just a small temptation. Know something could go wrong (giant alien spiders are no joke!), but it could also work out! "Surely," he could say to himself as an inexperienced player, "there would be nothing as intimidating as giant alien spiders without a worthy reward." And you would be wrong, because the reward is mostly quite irritating. But the joy of that event is the lesson it teaches you, after the fourth or fifth crew member that you have lost in the ten or eleven times you played in a new race. Giant alien spiders are never worth it, but chance is what that is teaching you.
I could look for the best decisions to make in FTL in the same way that I tend to verify who does not take off a shelf in Assassin & # 39; s Creed and, knowing me, I would probably also enjoy playing the game that way. But the fact that I am resisting the need to do so, all these years since launch, against all my innate min-max desires and optimize and calculate, says a lot. In FTL, chance works. And because their randomness works, their decisions, they themselves play, also work. Opportunity is a good thing when done right, as are decisions, choice and consequences. But it has to be done well.