No Man’s Sky Review
Sean Murray and Hello Games takes one giant leap into the world of space exploration, with potentially the most ambitious and hyped-up video game to date. The question is, does it live up to the hype?
No Man’s Sky. Every self-proclaimed gamer should be very familiar with this title. Famous for the colossal hype that has been built up since its 2013 reveal, and for the disgruntled reactions of thousands of gamers post release, the game has been getting a lot of negative attention recently. Is this because the game itself is bad? Or is it because it didn’t live up to the impossible standards that every gamer had set after letting their imaginations run wild? There is some truth to both of these points, yet the game might not be as terrible as people are making it out to be.
The gameplay in No Man’s Sky revolves mainly around resource collecting and heading towards your choice of goal; the path of the Atlas or the journey to the galactic centre. No matter which you choose, the gameplay remains very similar sadly, revolving around a constant grind for materials to craft warp cells so that you can move on to the next star… then the next star… and another one… and well, this is No Man’s Sky in a nutshell. You can set yourself other goals of course such as scanning 100% of the organisms on a planet, but you would probably get bored of doing this after only a few planets.
Flying your starship in open space is enjoyable, except for when you encounter space pirates. The ship rotates slowly as if flying through treacle, making combat difficult and almost always resulting in your death. On a planet, flight feels restricted and bugged, like it’s using a sort of pseudo-autopilot that can’t make up its mind, sometimes erratically shooting you up into the atmosphere again for no apparent reason. Like all things in the game, flight becomes boring and feels like a chore after a while, bringing us to the game’s biggest weakness – longevity. The game struggles to offer anything new and interesting to keep you entertained after the first few hours, with the average users experience going something like this:
- Hours 0-2: Your jaw drops. Everything is new and beautiful. You hastily explore every nook and cranny of your first few planets; your curiosity insatiable.
- Hours 2-5: You’re more used to the freedom that the game offers now, and you start to focus on the upgrading your ship and crafting warp cells. You start skipping a few planets.
- Hours 5-10: You only land on one planet per star now, you start to notice similarities in them. The voice of your personal assistant is beginning to irritate you.
- Hours 10-15: A black hole broke your warp drive for the sixth time. Back to farming minerals… again. The odious voice of that vile assistant repeats, “Life support low” while your life support sits at 75%. Your anger grows.
- Hours 15-20: Your warp drive broke again and you need 1000 more Iridium to fix it. You smash your head against your keyboard.
Constant, niggling issues take away from the core experience of the game, such as the aforementioned personal assistant and the extremely irritating lack of inventory space. Gamers that have been following the progress of No Man’s Sky for a while will also notice that features Sean Murray promised are missing, such as multiplayer, warring factions, faction reputation, derelict ships, landing on asteroids, large-scale space combat, planetary physics and the list goes on and on.
No Man’s Sky’s visual style is unique in the fact that you either love it, or you hate it. Certainly the chalky pale greens and pastel reds aren’t for everyone, but you can’t have a game of this size made in CryEngine can you? Jokes aside, the game is rather nice to look at — if you get a nice looking planet that is. My luck was rather awful and 9/10 of the planets I visited were desolate wastes but that doesn’t mean that they all are. Some are lush planets with fields of verdant vegetation, and some are ocean planets with little land. When you find one of the aforementioned planets, expect to fill your hard drive with screenshots as they are truly a wondrous sight to behold.
On the other hand, one major issue seems to exist within the game. Ore veins that have already been mined are rendered in as if they haven’t been mined from a distance, just to disappear again when you get closer, resulting in some unnecessary frustration and confusion. The way that the planet surfaces render in is also rather ugly at times, this is accentuated when activating beacon waypoints.
Quaint and dithery tones accompany the gameplay of No Man’s Sky, and are rather pleasant actually. Hello Games chose wisely to source their ‘Music for an Infinite Universe’ from British math rock band 65daysofstatic, as it complimented the games atmosphere well. The soundtrack also seamlessly changes depending on what is happening in the game. Ambient sound effects such as wind and rain enhance the realism and immersion while playing the game, making the shelters and outposts feel all the more cosey in harsh weather conditions.
Deserving of the hate?
No Man’s Sky is a candle in the wind; it’s a fun game at first, but the fun doesn’t last for long because you run out of things to do. It does show promise, but the game feels incomplete. It’s easy to understand why the fans are so annoyed, but Hello Games isn’t a triple-A studio. It’s just a typical case of the hype being so much that the game could never achieve what fans expected. Perhaps, with many updates, the game could become the game that everyone hoped it would.