The latest in a seemingly new-found genre of space-disaster management sims, Interactive Fate's Shortest Trip To Earth is available now in early access. Alice Bell fell into its gravitational field last month at Gamescom and came away with some pleasant things to say, claiming it went well beyond FTL's simple template to offer "a rich tapestry of exploration and survival". Interactive Fate's crew previously worked on twitchy roguelike shooter Teleglitch, so don't expect too many mercies out there in space, but if you can handle the harsh vacuum there's a launch trailer below.
Shortest Trip is a familiar-looking blend of real-time disaster management, and more considered story choices. The early access version of the game has been in the works for over four years, with the game struggling to hit its funding goal on Indiegogo. Fortunately, Interactive Fate found themselves a publisher in Iceberg Interactive, who have been building a stable of space sims of varying styles these past few years. While Interactive Fate don't have a final release date in mind for Shortest Trip To Earth, they reckon development will continue until January 2019 at bare minimum.
The current build of the game apparently contains most of the core systems and enough content to populate the first five areas of the game, with ten planned for the launch version. Most of the game's time in early access will be spent on adding more stuff - areas, ships, weapons and all those other bits you expect to discover on a space voyage. The developers do warn that balance may be a bit wonky, as they're not going to be focusing on fine-tuning numbers until nearer launch, and it may be a bit hard right now. If you find an exploit, go nuts - ain't no space-cops going to stop you.
It's wild that Subset's FTL has effectively become a genre unto itself. Its particular breed of chaos management and hard decisions has been seen mirrored in party game Catastronauts, the dark and moody Crying Suns, terrestrial take on the genre Convoy, XCom-like hybrid Depth Of Extinction and even some similarities in Warframe's upcoming co-op ship crewing systems, and probably a half-dozen more I've forgotten. It took a while for the first imitators to follow, but I doubt we've seen the last of this particular formula.
Shortest Trip To Earth is out in early access now. You can find it on Steam here and it costs £13.16/14.27/$16.99.