Shortest Trip to Earth is currently in development by Interactive Fate, a four-man indie developer. The team took to Indiegogo to seek funds for additional development ahead of the game's release and there's also a playable demo for anyone to try out. After spending some time with it, we came away anticipating what the final experience could become.
What Shortest Trip to Earth is all about
In Shortest Trip to Earth, you're tasked with taking command of a ship and crew, effectively managing the personnel and loading out the cruiser with an array of modules and weapons. The end goal is to reach Earth — hence the name — and survive passing through a total of 10 sectors. The reason you're so far away from home is due to a warp drive malfunction, requiring you to utilize traditional propulsion to a nearby star. This is where your journey begins.
As well as making sure your ship has enough power, necessary resources and enough fuel to get home, the game will fire at you various random events and mini-storylines that allow you to make choices, which ultimately affect the ship and crew. There's a lot to take in, and it's more complicated than FTL to pick up and master, but luckily the tutorial and in-game help screen make it easy to figure out the basics.
Movement is achieved on the main map screen, while combat and ship or crew management can be carried out in the ship view. Moves between planets and signals need to be carefully considered in case you hit a dead end (quite literally) or happen to run out of fuel for the thirsty engines. Fuel was, unfortunately, the death of me in my initial run, rendering my modules inoperable, which wasn't too good when entering combat.
Trade is also a big thing in Shortest Trip to Earth, requiring you to collect "xenodata" (the game's currency), which can then be used to purchase a whole array of stuff. The visuals in-game are impressive, and there are animations for most actions, even purchasing fuel sees a funnel pop out and connect to your ship momentarily. The soundtrack also makes you feel slightly lost in space ... which is cool.
While not quite capturing the same charm as FTL, it's a promising look at what could become an exciting roguelike title. As mentioned, the game remains listed on Indoegogo, and the campaign will come to a close in around two weeks, so you have plenty of time to try out the demo and back the project should you like what you see.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.