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FTLike: Fleet-Based Space Strategy/Roguelite Distant Star

FTL’s great and all, but just one ship? That’s not really the Battlestar Galactica fantasy, is it? You want a whole bunch of spacecraft in there, wincing whenever you lose one, thinking about what percentage of your race’s population is now left alive, then saying something meaningful but uncomfortably militaristic in a voice that sounds like a road being resurfaced.

Distant Star: Unnecessary Subtitle (oh ok it’s ‘Revenant Fleet’) is basically FTL with a small fleet, none of the crew stuff and an even stronger determination to kill you at the first possible chance. Hooray?

It’s pretty and affectingly moody, and in its movement-heavy, explosion-littered fights involving sometimes dozens of ships it’s probably leaning more towards Gratuitous Space Battles than FTL’s static hull bombardment.

However, Distant Star is currently as hard as a really hard thing. Think of something really hard. No, harder. Yeah, that’s it. Reading forum posts I’m not alone in getting wiped out in the first battle Every. Single. Time, though there are strategies I’ve not yet mastered. Moving all the time is important, but so is moving all your ships individually as they all have different ranges and area affects, which seems to require a near-Starcraft degree of clickery that I simply can’t do.

It’s Early Access, of course, so balance and AI updates are inbound – I’ll have to wait for those. Which is a bit gutting, as I’m casting about for something new-new-new to latch onto right now and I briefly thought it might be this. A more strategic FTL could be just the ticket – I’m very much down with hopping between systems into the great ever-unknown, in search of loot and fuel and the occasional upgrade. In Distant Star’s case, also the occasional new ship for my fleet (you can have up to five, and will lose a few/all of them as the game wears on). This approach is less, well, cartoonish than FTL’s crew-based take on loss and casualty, and I think will be a bit less about the luck of what weapons turn up where.

We’ll see, though. I’m out until the difficulty’s adjusted, but if you tend to like your core harder than I do, Distant Star is right here right now, and pretty cheap for the time being. Oh, and I should mention that it’s made by Blazing Griffin, the people who took over The Ship after original dev Outerlight closed down.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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