FTL has elements of an Elite-style game, in that you control a single starship in a world that is algorithmically and randomly generated; however, the focus is less on the universe about you, and more on the ship you command.
Much of the screen is filled with the interior of your ship, showing the locations of your crew members and major ship systems and their status -- along with such things as enemy boarding parties, fires, and the like. The HUD, too, mainly reports on the status of your ship, showing damage, which systems are powered, whether a particular weapon system has been recharged and can fire again, and so on.
You are supposedly fleeing a rebel fleet; when done at a star system, and after your warp drives have recharged, you can bring up a star map and warp to one of several nearby stars. Each newly visited star provides an encounter; you may have to fight pirates or rebel craft, assist a vessel in distress, and so on. Successful actions provide "scrap", which can be used to upgrade your ship; sometimes, too, you can acquire a new crewmember, or new systems for your ship. Eventually, the "rebel front" will appear on your starmap, at which point it is time to head for the sector exit star, which takes you to the the next sector. There are nine in total, of increasing toughness, with a final boss battle series in the ninth.
The game is real time, but pausable, and you will pause it, a lot, to ponder how to respond to a sudden problem. Crew members can be ordered to move about the ship to fight fires, repair damaged systems, and repel boarders; you have to keep a close eye on their health, because you don't want to lose them. One system, of course, is the med bay, where crew members can be restored to full health. During combat, you activate your weapons, then choose what part of the enemy ship to shoot at; I typically try to knock out their shields first, then their weapon systems. Combat can become quite tense, particularly if you are damaged, down to a handful of hull points, and low on crew; losing is quite common. Since this is an algorithmically generated game, it's possible to get into no-win situations, but there's still a strategy to it.
Initially, only one ship, the Kestrel is available, and you must start with a human crew. Other ships can be unlocked via play, and other starting races; the ships are surprisingly variable in their capabilities, and each seems to be designed to encourage different strategies in the game. For instance, one has weapons that can be used directly against enemy crew members, making for a different approach to combat, and another is weakly armed but stealthy. Similarly, the races are different too. In other words, there's a fair bit of variety to the game; this, along with the randomly generated sectors makes FTL highly repeatable.
The developers term it a "Rogue-like," which I find irritating; it is not an algorithmically generated ASCII dungeon crawler. It is an algorithmically generated 2D graphical Elite-style game. Let us be precise in our genre categories, please.
Regardless, this is an excellent little game with a high level of repeatability, tenseness, many surprises -- and, despite its real-time nature, more a challenge to the intellect than to motor skills, which I like.
There doesn't seem to be a demo, alas, but at $10 it's very reasonably priced.
FTL is a 2013 IGF nominee in the excellence in design and grand prize categories.