Originally published on Steam

HPWIS is a game that very obviously draws inspiration from FTL. You got your ship that needs upgrading, crew who might get injured, encounters that often turn hostile, escape from an overwhelming nemesis and resource management. I've not played far, but it seems there are three reasons to get this game:

  1. You liked FTL and want to try out other, similar games.

  2. FTL was too difficult for you. (I've never completed a run myself.)

  3. Produce and cultural references amuse you.

I won't say much about #3 as humor is a matter of taste. I didn't find it very funny, but you can always see what you think by playing the demo before buying.

The other two points get at the game system at the heart of both games. HPWIS manages to be simpler than FTL without being streamlined. If anything, the choices feel more arbitrary and fiddly than FTL. Instead of targetting rooms on the enemy ship, weapons can either target the hull or one of the weapon systems. That elminates a lot of tactical choices. There's no worrying about whether your crew will survive if a fire spreads to the life support room. But there's also no targetting the enemy shield system either. Fewer things to go wrong on your ship means fewer things you can make go wrong on your enemy's.

I'm still early in the game, but it doesn't feel easier than FTL. Combat seems easy enough, but I quickly ran into fights that seemed stacked against me. When I got through the exploration mission, I determined the problem was I hadn't upgraded anything since the tutorial had ended. It turns out you gotta upgrade your ship, weapons and crew in order to level up with the opposition. Some upgrades are obvious: more attack power or HP are good. Others are harder to evaluate. Do I want the charge capacitor that grows charge (the resource needed to fire a weapon) faster each turn or the one with a higher maximum charge? It's not that this is an easy choice. The problem is that it's not very interesting; just do some calculations and there's a right answer for your current weapon loadout.

I suppose it isn't fair to compare this game to FTL. Maybe the systems will turn out to be deeper as I play more. But it's hard to recommend a lightweight version of FTL for 150% of the price. Maybe wait for it to go on sale and even then, only if you love the humor.