The question is, can you name a rogue-lite that does it for you?
I think @vinraith at some point said something along the lines of, well, rogue-lites aren’t for me because I don’t want to be punished with perma-death and having to restart from scratch.
Many such games tend to off-set the sense of loss that comes with perma-death, and create instead a sense of progress, by giving the player some sort of reward they can keep in subsequent games, usually some form of unlock.
Indeed, FTL does the same, but being one of the early examples, it doesn’t exactly showers the player with such rewards, not obvious ones; even the requirements for unlocking certain ships can be rather convoluted and obscure, let alone meeting them.
There is, of course, another reward, and it’s more subtle; it’s observations, and knowledge, and insight, that you keep and carry to the next game. But sense of progress often needs something more tangible.
I can see it very well. But, in an online game, you could say, well I’ve been matched against vastly superior opponents, that was bad luck, and that’s why I lost - it’s not my fault, the game has been unfair to me.
Or, you could think: my opponents were superior, let’s see what I can learn from this match that will make me a better player, so that I can put up a better fight next time.
It’s largely a personal reaction, though we know game design can play a big role in changing the player’s perception. We expect games to cuddle the player, to give them reasons for looking at a defeat and not feel completely defeated, to give them a reason to keep playing; these reasons, however, are often quite light-weight, if you look closely.
Ultimately the reason you go back to it, should be that you’re having fun, or finding a challenge that is interesting to you; if the feeling of having been treated unfairly is overwhelming, it’s OK to walk away and do something else, and go back to a game with a fresh mind, at a later stage.
It’s a bit like training: you don’t get stronger, or faster, or better, while you’re exercising. Similarly, some skills don’t improve while you’re playing: it’s in the down-time, when you think back critically, and detachedly, on your choices, your moves, and find what you could’ve done differently.
If we keep playing only because the game is giving us some sort of consolation prize, Skinner box to keep us on the hamster wheel, then we’re being manipulated.
In that light, you could say FTL is an honest game. Of course, it’s more complicated than that, and it’s a good thing that games do stuff to make it easy on the players to stay motivated, if it’s meaningfully done.
At the end of the day, however, I think there’s a limit to what the game can do. The motivation to go back, keep playing, must be internal to the player.