I cannot say enough good things about FTL. After hundreds of plays, I still have not won it, and yet I keep playing. In that sense it's like Nethack, and just like that venerable favorite death is permanent, "hardcore" if you will. It's hard (at least to me.) Most games I play end something like this:
The game itself is a race across a series of randomly generated star maps, jumping from system to system and either fighting other ships, rescuing castaways (who may be helpful or suicidal and destructive) and trading at shops for better weapons and systems.
Eventually you will encounter all the various planet/ship combinations, but the game continues to be fun. Unlocking new ships though various challenges only adds to the challenge. I have taken to calling the game "Die In A Fire" for good reason. Like Nethack, dying is frustrating and so very much fun.
It's available for only $6.99, for Windows, Mac and (gasp) Linux. I play the Linux version. Go buy it! Now!