Publisert: 2. november, 2014
Flotilla is a short to medium length space strategy game. In comparison to similar games, it was made before FTL (and served as minor inspiration for FTL) and after the first two Weird Worlds games (not cited as an inspiration for Flotilla).
You are the captain of two identical small ships to begin with, always the same two ships. You have been told you have seven months to live. You jump around a procedurally generated starmap just like FTL and Weird Worlds, at each jump you encounter a random event. It can be a multiple choice question, a free item or ship to add to your flotilla and of course it can be a fight.
You'll enter a fight with your full flotilla, which will be every ship you managed to get during that run. You will fight the opposing team in 30 second bursts until one team is completely annihilated. Back on the map, after a certain amount of time has passed, the game ends and you get your final score.
The combat: Every time someone makes me play a game and says "it's art" they're not always wrong but they usually are. Well I'm putting my nuts on the chopping block, this is art. You point out where on the X, Y and Z axis you want your ship to travel too, you decide if they'll be firing and who they'll be firing at. Then you press play and it plays out for 30 seconds, everyone floats in their allotted directions firing at what you wanted them to. In the background plays classical piano pieces, Prelude in D-Flat Major by Chopin etc. as this is going on. Then when the 30 seconds are up, silence.... and you plot the next moves and press play again. Shielding is actually proper shielding, you hit the light coloured areas you're hitting a shield, chances of scoring an actual HP lowering hit are slim when you do that, you hit a non-shielded area such as the rear or underside then you'll likely cause damage. I play out these battles in the background all evening while I'm working on other things, it's a relaxing experience and it's very difficult to get flustered. To me this is the best part of the game it does what FTL and Weird Worlds couldn't do for me, fit into the background rather than command my undivided attention.
The characters and setting: Rastafarian Cats, Bandit Penguins it's got an interesting mix of anthropomorphised characters, humans too. Each character is offset against a very fitting musical theme. After every jump in the star system you find yourself asking "what the hell was that about?" which definitely seems to be the developer's intention and I think they pulled it off. I find it even more interesting than the lore in FTL.
The Mystery: Outside of the ships and ship upgrades, nothing is explained. Every decision can come back to haunt to you in a branched off event, this was done to excellent effect in FTL two years later as well, Flotilla's handling of events is terser and shorter but far more representative of the whole game story. For example each jump you make and what happened gets written down in a Captain's log which reflects your ending score.
Reduced content: The game is small. It's a real shame that it likely won't see the updates and DLC that it so richly deserves. From a standpoint of pure common sense it's just not viable for Blendo Games to return to the development of a 4 year old game, especially when it's a one man team and the popularity of this title pales in comparison to their other titles, such as Thirty Flights of Loving. As opposed to other games where the community would like to see PvP/Co-op multiplayer, updated art assets, expanded story or even a sequel just for the purpose of milking their favourite game dry even when it's not the best decision, that is definitely not the case with Flotilla. This game gets the green light on PvP multiplayer, especially online, the mechanics are screaming out for this addition to the game it would work incredibly well, online co-op fits in just as well (note: Local co-op is already available). Another well-fitting feature would be modding, Flotilla is built from a small pool of "what is fun", to pull this off the developer reduced the graphics to very simple geometric shapes and made the game all about travelling to the location, then fighting in the location. As for the fighting itself, you move, you roll, you fire, you turn your shields in the direction of oncoming fire, you direct your fire towards the non-shielded areas of the opponent. A modding community could work with the whole game, even if it was just pure XML (similar to Dungeons of Dredmor) after only experiencing 5 hours of the game you could extend it straight away.
Un-pruned areas: The developer has been very honest about the state of his code on Flotilla, undoubtedly being his first commercial game it's likely that large swathes of the code didn't lend itself to decent re-use and as a result it would seem that a few screw ups here and there that detract from the overall enjoyment of the game can't be as easily fixed as you would think. Certainly not as easy as if he wrote the game today with his current experience. An example is controller support, this game has it but in a very old-fashioned way, you can't use the gamepad in single player, but a second player can use a gamepad in addition to the first player using keyboard and mouse in local co-op. The Beam Frigate's AI can get stuck quite a lot and just not move, making them sitting ducks, it typically happens when there's too much going on in the frigate's vicinity. You start with two of what is arguably the best ship in the game, it's so fast it can take on almost anyone, my opinion may change after a few more games in hardcore mode but for now I would say that other starting configurations and balancing things more favourably for the opponent would have been a great improvement also.
This is space opera the game basically. A twenty minute let's play video would not contain any spoilers as far as I can tell so go and watch one if you're interested in purchasing the game because so much of this game's charm is in what is indescribable, it's definitely a game most would describe as "crafted".
Using the Horseblair rating system I would give it 8 Tiger Hats out of 10. Or a thumbs up on the Steam rating system.