Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC
Reviewed On: PS4
Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Enteratinment
Distributor: Ster Kinekor Entertainment
Release Date: 2 August 2016
No Man’s Sky, and the substance that it holds, kind of reminds us of those mobile games you play to pass the time, which offer very little diversity and lots of repetition. No Man’s Sky might take on a whole new genre with its procedural landscapes and endless galaxies, but it lacks a sort of realness to it. No Man’s Sky is one long trip through an imaginary galaxy, with very little to do, and so much of the same thing to discover. It is fun, and a great way to pass the time, but No Man’s Sky does not manage to hold up to any of its mysterious marketing beliefs. If anything, No Man’s Sky feels like a tech demo, with much more content to be added later.
“Procedurally generated” means that everything in the game is unique to your play-through. Every planet you visit, every flower you walk to, and every galaxy you enter, is generated as you arrive. Your experience will be like no other. Unfortunately, too much of the same thing is a bad thing, and No Man’s Sky suffers from this. Planets start to look the same, creatures look like they have been sewn together with poor execution, and exploration gets more and more mundane as you venture into the (un)known.
Planets which we did find interesting had some great locations to them, apart from the odd bad coding which made some areas look like one big glitch. Procedurally generated also means that things might get a bit messy at times, and this was noticeable. We suffered various crashes in No Man’s Sky, and sometimes we needed to really open up our minds to the abstract landscape which we have been placed on. Heading into caves led to dead ends with no materials to find, and outposts had some good multi-tools and often a shop to sell all our materials. There is always something to find in No Man’s Sky, but that does not mean it’s anything exciting.
Exploration is the biggest feature in No Man’s Sky. Your character walks very slowly, and your jetpack fails to make the great trek across the planet any more motivating. There were times where we could not wait to see what was over the hill, but after a week of exploration, we left undiscovered locations to rot in the badly generated code. As you explore the planet, you gather materials to build and create new objects for your gear, but at times you just mine them because you are bored, and the thought of walking 20 minutes to you ship gives you a headache.
Your mission on each planet, is to explore it and scan every life form. As you go about this, you will come into contact with alien races, who will try to communicate with you. If you have learnt any of the language of that species, you will be able to make out what they are saying. If anything the narrative in No Man’s Sky feels as poorly generated as the planets do. Aliens have their own mind-boggling agenda, and conversations with them, and the actions you can take, make no sense at all. It all makes the discovery element of No Man’s Sky feel repetitive, as talking to aliens is just another chore, with little outcome.
Combat is non-existent as you can shoot sentries patrolling the planet, and animals, but there is never a real threat to you in No Man’s Sky. We hoped for gun fights between alien races and ferocious T-Rex beasts, but instead we spent our time trying to shoot down birds to scan them and complete the discovery of the planet. You are an unknown life-form on an unknown planet, there has to be someone out there who wanted you dead, but this has not happened for us in No Man’s Sky yet.
Gear and spaceships can be found as you play No Man’s Sky. As you progress through No Man’s Sky, you will come into contact with multi-tools and ships with more inventory slots. New mods let you increase the power of your mining or give your jetpack a boost, but after a week of playing, we were not finding anything new to use. The mods also felt like they had very little impact on our adventures through the planets, instead they just took up an important inventory slot.
There is very little to discover after you have played around 40 hours of No Man’s Sky. Planets are dull, and chances of you finding anything remotely vibrant and exciting, are slim. Every planet was red, and plants and creatures felt like we had seen them dozens of times before. We could not help but feel that the anticlimax of landing on yet another dull and dead planet, was the norm while playing No Man’s Sky. There was no threat, no real discovery, and nothing to blow us away. You are just one lonely person in a very boring galaxy.
Saying that however, there is a story tucked away in No Man’s Sky, which if you are patient enough, can be discovered. What is the meaning of life, and how did it all come to be? Well, Atlas seems to have that answer, and much more, as you explore the galaxy and follow the path towards it.
No Man’s Sky has a great exploration feeling to it, but after seeing a few planets, you have seen them all. There is very little to do other than jumping from one planet to another. If anything, No Man’s Sky is best played to relax and casually explore the galaxy.