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no man's sky
September 4, 2016 | by  | in Games |
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No Man’s Sky

★★★

Developer: Hello Games

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Platform: PS4 (reviewed), PC

 

In my last piece of 2015, No Man’s Sky was one of the numerous games I was hyped for this year, probably more than anything else. All through the gaming community, the hype for this game was beyond anything I have seen for many years, thanks to a marketing campaign that was all about intrigue and mystery. Vague promises were made of a vast procedurally generated universe to explore, with no two planets (all 18 quintillion of them) exactly alike, and all home to unique flora and fauna. It all looked amazing; to quote myself from 2015, No Man’s Sky would be “an accomplishment if it is even half as good as the hype suggests.”

Well, is it? And what the hell do you even do?

No Man’s Sky is an open world survival game with crafting. Yes, like a million cheap knockoffs before it, it’s basically Minecraft in a new setting. If the very idea of “open world survival game with crafting” puts you off, then you’re probably going to hate this game, and I honestly wouldn’t blame you. It has been done to death, and it is an often poor experience.

Thankfully, this game is more than just a new take on clichéd mechanics, if only just. Rather than plonking you in a random map and telling you to go for it with nowhere else to go, there is a real attempt to make an entire universe out of the experience. You’ll start off on a barren planet at the very edge of the galaxy, with a broken spaceship and a trusty multi-tool. There’s numerous resources to collect, and once you’ve met the requirements to fix your ship, you’re free to explore the galaxy. You have an ultimate goal—to make it to the centre of the universe—but thankfully you don’t have to do that; it’s probably more fun to just fuck around, and there’s a bit of lore that kept me interested.

The game isn’t exactly a graphical marvel, but its visual aesthetic helped immerse me in the experience almost immediately. With the whole universe filled with pastel colours and soft lighting, it was certainly an experience that was easy on the eyes. This provides a real contrast with more recent releases that, while equally filled with colour, often distract from the rest of the experience by shoving it in your face. The subtlety, combined with an eerie ambient soundtrack, made for a relaxing play session as I bounced around, collecting iron, and looking for signs of life.

Sadly, as tends to happen with games of its type, mining and crafting can get quite tedious at times, especially if you’re looking for essentials. While there is some combat, the little drones serving as enemies early on aren’t exactly satisfying to bring down, and the rewards may not always be worth it. By far the most fun part of my experience has been flying around in my spaceship, thanks to the accessibility of the controls compared to full-on space simulations. Take my advice: get spaceborne as soon as you can, because you’ll be amazed at just how massive the game’s universe actually is. With a decent trading system, you’ll be able to upgrade your ship and see even more of it.

I’m pretty sure now that No Man’s Sky could never live up to the hype or fulfil all of its promises, but I still got a fair bit out of the experience. I certainly want to go deeper and reach the centre, but the farthest reaches of space won’t suit everyone.

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