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FTL is inspired by roguelike games, but is it a good roguelike game?
I consider myself a hesitant fan of roguelike games. There are elements I enjoy about them, like the random events and layout of dungeons to make each campaign unique; but then there are elements I loathe like the difficult learning curve associated to them, usually with learning numerous keys that would be at home to an Ultima game. The new Indie game FTL: Faster Than Light is inspired by roguelike games, but I think it is forgetting a key lesson about this genre: Patience.
One of my first introductions to roguelike games wasShiren the Wanderer on the Super NES, developed by Chunsoft (who also worked on the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games). It was a frustrating experience for me. I hated the permanent death system and how I would lose my XP level when I return back to town. I would try rushing through the game in my first session, and only get so far due to my luck in the game.
Several years later I picked up Shiren the Wanderer for the Nintendo DS and I changed my tactic. Instead of rushing through the game, I took my time gathering resources in the first few floors between the first and second town. I upgraded a nice sword and shield and only ventured forth to finish some quests. I enjoyed this experience with Shiren the Wanderer as it taught me that 'grinding', which we often associate with a derogative term in video games, can be a necessary feature to make a difficult game easy for anyone that has patience.
After a few hours I felt like this component was missing in FTL. I understand that the 'sectors' are your dungeon levels and 'beacons' are your rooms. I even understand that it has a permanent death system, similar to what Shiren the Wanderer has.
But I believe the always moving fleet of the Rebel forces in FTL conflicts with other roguelike game's philosophy. I'm aware that I need scrap, missiles and drone parts to survive. However moving from each beacon that isn't in a nebula increases the chance of the rebel fleet getting me, which makes me feel like I must rush to potential mistakes.
There are elements of FTL I enjoy. I really like developing my ship and hopping around to beacons for the next random event. However I believe what makes roguelike games like Shiren the Wanderer or The Binding of Isaac work is they give you time to develop your character build. Which helps a lot when the troll engine in these games throw a frustrating challenge at you.
I don't see this in FTL after a few hours, which makes the game slowly grow to an annoyance for me.