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.

19 Comments

  1. Sacarathe says:

    Looks like Star Battle link to goo.gl , link to goo.gl (youtube)

    Star battle is a Starcraft 2 Custom map, you get 1 ship, one life teams are generally versus, 4v4,5v5,6v6.

    You die, you’re out, has elements of MOBA for farming etc.

    • Neutrino says:

      Uggh. That looks less like space ship combat than any other space ship combat game I have ever seen. Looks more like Dota with space ship skins.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Indeed that was about as uninteresting a video as I have seen. Of course I have never really liked Dota. Not enough decision making, its all to rote and spammy.

        • Sacarathe says:

          But with one life, I’ve never seen a MOBA with one life before. Tbh, its the only “MOBA” game i’ve played, and it doesnt look like any of the others ive seen videos of (since death has limited personal consequence).

  2. Jaramide says:

    Looks really interesting.
    Also that trailer it’s extremely influenced by home world.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      That was my first thought. Nothing wrong with mining that rich and under-exploited vein of art direction.

      Sadly as this is early access I will be likely waiting a long while. Lets hope they successfully navigate the difficulty and choices such that it doesn’t spill over into puzzle game. It really kills most rouge-likes when that happens. I always want to feel like there is a whole continuum of available strategies in a game like this, not one perfect build for each scenario/campaign or whatever. Or even worse yet only one possible build that can win.

      • BlazingGriffin says:

        Hi Joshua,

        The combat scales based on the fleet you take, so if you prefer to play with 1 or 2 ships, you’ll face smaller enemy fleets but it’ll still be challenging. There are 7 classes of ships in total and although there’s only 1 “healer” you don’t need to have in your fleet (it helps, but avoiding damage is a good approach too), and ditto “tank” classes. All classes have good basic weapons on them, making them good all-rounders. They just have some special stuff each too.

        The game won’t head down the puzzler route. :) Think: short and fast-paced RTS combat missions (defend, capture, ambush, etc). Lots of pew pew pew!

        The roguelike elements we adopted are largely to do with story and mission randomisation to help with replayability. So enemy fleets you encounter not only scale, but are comprised of different classes. It will be very easy for you to pick your preferred approach which will be as effective as someone elses completely different approach.

        Let me know if you have any other questions. :)

        Best,
        Scott Boyd
        Marketing Manager
        Blazing Griffin

    • abigbat says:

      Perhaps unsurprising considering I’m a huge Homeworld fan :) DS is in many ways a tribute to my favourite scifi games, films and artists!

  3. Neutrino says:

    That female voice over in the video is fabulous. Sounds like the Dowager Countess of Grantham from Downton Abbey but is eerily fitting.

  4. froz says:

    Oh, it’s a pitty that another strategy requires more dexterity then actual strategy… What was great in FTL was that you could pause any time and in general things you have to do were limited. I really prefer simple design that is not complex just for the complexity, but still allows great deal of strategy. And I hate RTSes that requires you to click a lot as a part of strategy. I wish more RTSes would have better units AI that would just do all the micromanaging for you and you could think about higher strategy instead. Until then I’ll stick with TBSes.

    • ChrisMidget says:

      I agree with your sentiments, as a dyspraxic things that involve a lot of fast reactions end up in me floundering about and hitting the wrong keyboard button.

    • jonahcutter says:

      That’s the main issue I have with a game like Satellite Reign as well (no giving orders while paused). It does so many great things. But I want to focus in combat on thinking and tactics, and enjoy the visuals of it all. In this type of game, I’m not so interested in difficulty being determined by twitch skills.

      Of course, the last rts that I really loved that demanded micro skills were the Myth games. So maybe I’m just old.

    • Chrysomore says:

      Y’all should check out Dungeon of the Endless some time; other than the lack of spaceships it’s pretty much a direct (and AWESOME) successor to FTL, pause button and all.

    • LTK says:

      I agree, what I enjoyed about FTL is that even though the view remained stationary, it still implied that the ships are actually whizzing about and constantly doing evasive maneuvers, as evidenced by how your shots have a chance to miss and that more engine power increases your evasion. It’s much more fitting of a spaceship commander to say “Divert power to the engines!” than “Bank left to avoid that missile!” The latter is the pilot’s job, they’re trained for that. You shouldn’t be expected to make tactical decisions and pilot a shit at the same time, much less multiple ships!

  5. AngoraFish says:

    Do want.

  6. Ralek says:

    I’m definitely interested, but so far all of these games came up short in comparison to Starsector (aka Starfarer) … I’m going to keep an eye on it.

  7. spathi says:

    For 7$ have bought this without giving a second thought, and that is contrary to Sol Trader and Into the Stars, both of which I’ve checked out yesterday. Perhaps the later two should take a cue in regards to their pricing strategy..

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      For 7$ have bought this without giving a second thought, and that is contrary to Sol Trader and Into the Stars, both of which I’ve checked out yesterday. Perhaps the later two should take a cue in regards to their pricing strategy..

      Wait, you’re complaining about the pricing tiers of Kickstarter projects? Because both of those games you mention have 20+ days on their kickstarter campaigns to go right now.

      • spathi says:

        I’m complaining about high prices (15~20 usd). For me the magic sum I’m willing to spend is 7$, and I figure I’m not the only one with such mindset.