FTL: Faster Than Light's music dissected and explained by its composer

Ian Birnbaum at

Ben Prunty, the composer of the soundtrack for FTL: Faster Than Light, has published a “guided tour” of the motifs and themes that show up throughout the game’s 29 tracks. FTL is a remarkable game for a lot of reasons, including what is hands down one of the best recent musical scores around.

“[T]he FTL soundtrack is very self-referential,” Prunty writes. “Lots of sounds, melodies and chords show up multiple times throughout.” Pulling up Prunty’s bandcamp page lets you follow along with his references, even if you haven’t purchased a copy.

“I actually wrote this melody a few years before,” Prunty writes about “The MilkyWay Melody,” a fast, twinkling theme that shows up in several places in the game. “I was challenging myself to write and produce a new piece of music every week for three months... [W]hen I wrote the melody I was actually envisioning some kind of old DOS space game. When the opportunity came up to write for FTL, it made perfect sense to fit it in.”

The thing I love about analysis like this is that it makes perfect sense when someone points it out to you, but it never occurred to me while playing the game. There’s a reason that Mantis space always creeps me out, and it wasn’t until now that I realized it was Prunty’s devilish minor chords.

FTL was one of the earliest big Kickstarter success stories, was of our short-form game of the year winner in 2012, and helped launch the resurgence of indie roguelikes that seem to be everywhere these days.

Check out Prunty’s full writeup of the soundtrack and follow along on his bandcamp page. If you haven’t checked out FTL, it happens to be featured on the Steam Summer Sale right this instant.