Strategy Game of the Year 2014

By Kelsey Rinella 19 Dec 2014 0
Your nearest emergency exit may be behind you. Your nearest emergency exit may be behind you.

If you find yourself disillusioned with Kickstarter, blame FTL. Many of us hit the jackpot on our very first pull of that one-armed bandit, and have been pulling and pulling since with only a sore arm and tragic updates to show for it. In 2012, the PC version of the game made "roguelike" a household world (also "rougelike", spelling being the challenge that it is), but it didn't just reintroduce a once-ubiquitous game type. Instead, it executed that with a spacefaring setting, a utilitarian, understated style, and clever writing. Also, it's charmingly open about kicking players in the crotch.

Still, there've been lots of roguelikes since, so there wouldn't have been special recognition here if it had been merely a lazy port. Instead, the translation made FTL feel like a game which was always destined for its new medium, and which controls more naturally here than in its original format. Add new aliens, new ships, new weapons, and new encounters (with some guest-writing help from Chris Avellone, of Planescape: Torment and Knights of the Old Republic fame), and you can make the tablet player feel the warm glow of a developer's love. That could be a fire in the aft corridor, actually.


Mostly, though, FTL is reliable. It's the game I play when I get some time to sit down and return to something familiar which still has a ton to explore. Early on, I spent each playthrough trying to execute what seemed like the best strategy while getting a basic sense of the setting. After a while, I began playing around with different builds, trying to be a bit more opportunistic, and exploring some of the small pieces of connected story more thoroughly. I'm still looking for events which follow up on the encounter in which you accidentally interrupt an alien mating ritual, or recover a stasis pod from a xenophobic race--the structure of the game guarantees that there are still new things to see even after many plays. Some day I may even venture off easy mode.

Runner-upXCOM: Enemy Within

Honourable Mention: Hoplite, Banner Saga, First Strike


To see all of the games recognised in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2014 Awards, visit the 2014 Awards Index page.
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