No Man’s Sky Review

No Man’s Sky is a special game. It’s one that captivated every person’s imagination of the endless possibilities that could be found within its seemingly infinite universe. The strange discoveries, the unscripted adventures, and ultimately, the journey that will never be forgotten. The result of No Man’s Sky however is one dashed by realities, by limitations, and by ambiguity. While No Man’s Sky is a decent game, it’s not what we hoped it would be.

I was fascinated by No Man’s Sky when playing it. Every time I landed on a new plant and saw a box appear in the lower left corner of the screen I first took all the information in: flora, fauna, temperature, toxicity levels, and more – weighing up my rate of survival, my chance of discovery, and opportunities to explore. After a few hours though, that fascination in that regard waned as the difficulty that I wanted just simply didn’t exist. I never discovered a hostile planet so dangerous that being there or more than a few seconds would result in death. I didn’t find that one anomaly, that one moment that I knew I may never see it again.

It quite quickly fell into a game that we’ve played many times before, just never on this scale and unfortunately, the scale of the game means very little to its surrounding mechanics. You’ll move from planet to planet, gathering elements and resources, finding blueprints to upgrade yourself and your ship and eventually complete the goal of reaching the centre of the universe. While those mechanics all work fine and keep you moving, there’s a distinct lack of motivation to do what you want. Sure you could find the perfect planet and want to discover everything it has to offer but there’s very little reason to do so.

What I found most enjoyable about No Man’s Sky was the insignificance that you are in this universe. You could name the planet you discovered, find every plant and animal, name all of them and then upload it. Chances are no one will ever find them and therefore your efforts will be for nothing. It’s a sobering feeling but one I have to commend the game for achieving. I’ve never felt so alone in a game before and I went through stages of understanding it. Eventually I just wanted to take in the scenes, the different coloured skies and unusual science taking place and appreciate it because nothing really mattered.

There is also a lack on content that was seemingly promoted before launch like space battles and multiplayer, both of which would have enhanced the game exponentially. You may be exploring your sixth barren planet in a row but it would be still be fun because you’re playing with your friends. While the numbers are impressive what you do moving from planet to planet is not.

There are plenty of mysteries throughout the star systems including alien races, each with their own language. As you explore planets, you might find monuments and other alien artefacts that will teach you a word in a foreign tongue but this incredibly slow progression loses its steam far too quickly. The reason for learning the words is to understand conversations with these alien races but when you finally meet them, the conversation is always about minute details that don’t matter to the overall journey. They’re throwaway moments, times when your exploration could pay off to something important but ultimately it helps you understand maybe what element to give them in return for a blueprint, something you can find throughout the universe quite easily.

It definitely feels like a game that’s only on the start of its journey, one that will become more filled with life as time goes on. The only problem lies is that when the times comes to say that this universe that’s been created is worth exploring and offers satisfying moments that we might have already moved on with no intention to look back. No Man’s Sky is still a good game, one that is at its best when you realise the insignificance of everything you do and just embrace the beauty around you.

Good

  • Impressive core design
  • Exploration is fascinating

Bad

  • Overwhelming universe feels unnecessary
  • Gameplay loop is uninspiring
  • Missing promised features
7

Good

Owner of Game-Smack, Jason plays everything that's possible. Goal of Game-Smack: Overhearing a stranger "Game-Smack? I've heard of that. It sucks!"

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