Game Review: No Man’s Sky

Post by Patrick

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No Man’s Sky is a exploration and survival game that takes place in a procedurally generated universe that features 18 quintillion planets. You have your own space ship that allows you to fly from planet to planet, galaxy to galaxy, discovering new planets, animals and plants, while trading with various different races.

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The game starts off by placing you on a random planet with a broken spaceship. Your first task is to look for resources to help you repair your ship and take off from the planet. This first area serves as a light tutorial that should help you get a grip on the games loop. After you successfully take off from the first planet, the universe opens up to you and you can either choose to follow on the games set path to the center of the universe or you can choose travel to any galaxy and any planet you like as long as you have the fuel.

The problem with having procedurally generated content though is that a players experience is based off luck and chance. I’ve seen people complain that planets look the same, feel the same and there is truth in that, but my personal experience has differed. I’ve been lucky enough to discover a wide variety of planets, ranging from planets that have nearly zero life on them with intense weather to planets teeming with life. So even though I’ve seen planets that look similar, I’ve also been lucky enough to see enough variety that I’m still interested in exploring and taking screenshots of planets I like.

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The bulk of the game revolves around scavenging for materials to repair or upgrade your space ship, your multi-tool (used for mining and killing things) and your space suit. It feels like work especially because the game doesn’t offer a lot in terms of variety in gameplay. Walking around a planet, finding resources can also be a relaxing experience. I enjoy playing it early in the morning or late at night before bed because I realized the game can be somewhat meditative. It reminds me of a similar feeling I get from playing Animal Crossing or Minecraft. This is helped by the fact that you feel incredibly isolated in the universe because the planets you’re visiting are not inhabited by humans or other alien species and you won’t be coming across towns or cities. When you do come across alien species you’ll only find them in outposts and trading posts and interactions are limited. All the alien races in the game have their own language and the only way you can successfully communicate with them is to learn the languages by discovering “Knowledge Stones” which I found to be a really interesting feature.

The flow of No Man’s Sky can get repetitive and it lacks depth. There are features teased for the future like base-building, but you can’t judge a game based on content that’s still not out. For many people the experience left them wanting more. There were also a few issues I had with the game like why aren’t there larger settlements on these planets? It would be interesting and pretty cool to land on a planet and find that there’s a small town that already existed there, with an alien species living their lives, moving around and not just stationary in an outpost. My other main issue is space combat. I’m enjoying it but I wish it had more depth, I wish we could equip different kinds of weapons on our ships, like homing missiles or something. Finally, my last issue is a superficial one. I want to be able to customize the way my spaceship looks like the paint job or adding or changing the decals. I want to have more control over my spaceship as well, right now the game doesn’t allow you to crash into things or to really fly close to the ground which sucks at times because it doesn’t always feel like you have full control of your ship.

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Even though I’m still enjoying No Man’s Sky I find it difficult to recommend to everyone. This is a game made for a niche market since the repetitiveness, the “work”, the lackluster narrative and the isolation will turn most people off. But with that said, I still believe there’s something special with No Man’s Sky. I love exploring random planets, I love listening to the music (composed by the wonderful 65daysofstatic), I love being in my spaceship and I appreciate the fact that the developers are going to be supporting it by fixing bugs and adding content for the foreseeable future.

No Man’s Sky is available on Playstation 4 and PC.

Score:

Post by Patrick


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5 comments, add your own...


  1. BBB says:

    The awesome concept of the game is just out of reach for a small indie developer. So sad to see a potential dream come true of a game done not so well.

  2. DeReD says:

    Nice Job, Pat. Lots of long term effort and strategy and money required to make the game successful in the long term. Wonder what the developers have in mind.

    I hope you have not forgotten about the review on your fav split screen games!!

    Thanks.

  3. Machiavelli says:

    So much potential wasted, it wold have been amazing if they focused more on making a game, not a tech demo.

    Hey, at least we still have Star Citizen.

    • Patrick says:

      Well I mean they’re only a 15-man team, so I’m sure they tried their best to complete as much of the game as possible for the release. I wonder if Sony had anything to do with the fact that it was pushed out so soon.


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