The new indie spaceship management game FTL involves a lot of, well, managing, and not a lot of space exploration. Rampant Coyote of Rampant Games found the game full of emergent narrative, with some surprising solutions to the problem of putting out fires.
The focus of the game is not on space – it’s on your ship and her crew. Space combat Star Trek / Firefly style experience, emphasizing what’s happening on board your ship and to your crew (and to your enemy’s ship and crew). “Space” is abstracted, but every compartment and major system of your ship is represented, as well as every crewman. Oxygen will bleed out of compartments (or open hatches), fires will start, crewmen will take damage when their compartment is hit, or from fighting fires, or from combat with boarders who transport over from the enemy ship or arrive by some other situation.
The player must make tough decisions in the thick of real-time (with pause!) combat. What’s more important – fighting the fire in the med bay, attacking the remaining boarder who is sabotaging your sensors, or manning your post to keep the shields up against the enemy warship? Sometimes you can find a more clever solution – like putting out the fires by opening the airlocks and depriving the room of oxygen (this can kinda work against invaders, too, if you’ve upgraded your doors). Crewmembers may be of multiple races – with inherent strengths and weaknesses – and develop skills over time.