No Man’s Sky

Reviewed on August 23, 2016

Platforms:

PS4, PC

Released:

August 10, 2016

Publisher:

Hello Games

Developer:

Hello Games

A lot of us have been on the No Man’s Sky hype train for quite some time, and there seems to be a lot of mixed reactions from the release. Some are disappointed by what Hello Games has bought to the table. Others, like myself, are absolutely giddy with excitement and acting like five year old’s in a candy store. A very, very big candy store.

For those of you out there who haven’t yet heard of the game; to give you a rough idea, No Man’s Sky functions fairly similarly to Minecraft, at least in the way that you have to survive harsh environments while gathering resources in order to move on and adventure in your surroundings. The game begins when you awaken on a planet with strange thoughts in your mind and a crashed ship that needs fixing. You have two set paths you can follow: One the mysterious Atlus sends you on, leading you to discover the mysteries at the centre of the universe, and the other letting you explore, gather and find new discoveries of your own free will.

While It does draw a lot of parallels to games like Minecraft and Don’t Starve in terms or resource gathering and exploring unmapped terrain, it really is a whole new entity of it’s own. Once you get a bit more into the game, you get the opportunity to meet alien life forms and even hit some milestones, which are essentially achievements for doing or finding a certain amount of things in game. Everything in No Man’s Sky is infinitely procedurally generated, meaning that no planet or system you visit is exactly the same.

Well… with that in mind, I thought I’d be seeing a lot of variation in flora, fauna and terrain in general. What I’ve found instead is a lot of the same things, slightly altered, changed colour, maybe a few new forms here and there, but nothing that much different to what I’ve already seen. It may just be my own terrible luck of finding similar planets along my journey, but I really was expecting a bit more variety than what I’ve seen from the game thus far.

Even so, no two players experiences are the same, everyone is set in their own adventure, and while we can bond on a lot of the more familiar aspects of the game, like the alien population, the Atlus journey, element gathering and even the ever dreadful Sentinels, we still experience something unique. It creates that atmosphere around us that makes us feel as if we really are inside that exosuit, alone, exploring the limits of space.

Function wise, No Man’s Sky runs smoothly on the PS4, and I’ve found no real issues with anything, aside from a few hilarious creature behaviour glitches and one very unfortunate moment after mining 20 slots worth of gold without saving that resulted with me discovering the centre of the planet instead of the centre of the universe.

Even generating new galaxies when warping to different systems is fairly quick, and in a game that’s pretty much centred around jumping from system to system, that’s a great thing to see. The way everything has been structured has really impressed me, regardless of a few aspects that could have been improved upon with more time. Compared to the huge amount of hours I’ve put into this game so far, the few small errors I’ve found barely affect my overall experience of the game. Well, aside from the emotional damage of losing all that gold, I mean.

While No Man’s Sky is heavy on the element gathering and exploration side of things, you can also fight in the game. Many of the places you visit contain hostile enemies you can battle. On the surface, you’re more likely to face up to angry sentinels, which are a galactic robot force that protects the resources on planets, and in space its hostile enemy ships that will try to shoot you down to obtain your cargo. Battles on the surface go pretty smoothly, with your only weapon being an upgradeable multi-tool, the controls are fairly smooth and easy to use on the controller.

Space is a different matter. I found it hard to defend my ship in battle, let alone attack. Your movement control on the ship is slow to react, and if you happen to lose your shields in the middle of a fight, you run the risk of dying right there while going into your inventories to charge the shields back up. As with a lot of the technology, you have to keep them charged up with things like carbon and various kinds of isotopes, and to do that you have to go into your inventory every time they are depleted and hope you can selects the right components fast enough. While the ship controls work fine while cruising around leisurely, they really fail you during battle.

“…gives the player an expansive universe to literally and figuratively lose themselves in.”

I’m very much on the fence about the actual substance of gameplay available. Personally I love a game where I can sit back for a few hours grinding for levels and achievements, but for those who need direction or some kind of objective, the game doesn’t offer much apart from the Atlus path. Even then you’re left spending hours just trying to figure out what the game wants you to do, because a lot of things that should be explained to you at the beginning of the game are left out in the open air.

There are so many things Hello Games could do to make the game more involving, not just exploratory, even having some of the alien lifeforms give the player small missions or group objectives would make it more appealing to most. And that brings me to the element No Man’s Sky is completely lacking in; which is a Multiplayer option. With a game as open world as this it’s absolutely wasted as JUST a single player journey, and it even turns a lot of people away from playing the game. It’s such a big missed opportunity, and while I understand that in a game world as massive as this one, it can be very difficult to get a multiplayer system working fault free, it really needs to have one in the future to avoid players eventually getting bored with it.

Positive:

  • No limits on where you go on your journey
  • Catalogers dream
  • Vibrant and beautiful visuals
  • Freedom to do as you please

Negative:

  • No real direction
  • Lack of multiplayer
  • The achievements fanfare is literally the WORST

In saying all that, I don’t have any qualms with the game as a whole, personally I think No Man’s Sky is really amazing. Not only is it visually stunning, but it gives the player an expansive universe to literally and figuratively lose themselves in. It’s a game I have been waiting a very long time to play, and has met a lot of my expectations head on. The game wont cater to all though, unfortunately. If you are the kind of gamer that needs a set directive and motivation throughout gameplay to keep you hooked, then you will be sorely disappointed. However, for the aspiring adventurer, this game is a shining beacon with endless amounts of content to keep you satisfied. With a title like No Man’s Sky at our fingertips, it’s not long now until we all claim our own little piece of the Galaxy.