It’s finally upon us, No Man’s Sky, a big game created by the small team that makes up first-time developer Hello Games. If you keep up with anything in the video game industry, chances are you’ve heard about No Man’s Sky. If you haven’t, then either you’ve been hiding under a rock, or might be just that oblivious to one of the most covered games to come out in recent memory. Hype aside I was definitely on board with this game from the get go. It’s literally everything I could ever want from Sci-fi that I grew up on, and so much more. Now I might seem easy to impress, but there are definitely things I’ve encountered in No Man’s Sky that I’m not too keen on, I’ll get into that later though.
Now that I’ve finally played the game, and have to write about it, I didn’t realize my excitement for this game would match my sense of, “How the hell am I going to write about this?” First things first, this game is pure awe in digital form. I cannot express enough how many “Wooow” moments I keep having. I’m sure they will keep coming too.
From the moment I was plopped down on Ivplanety Dosto (my first planet) I was already gasping, while grinning from ear to ear. The game starts everyone off in a different part of the universe, so while some may encounter beautiful planets with; cool breezes, easy beaches, lush wild life, others not so much. Take my planet for example, Ivplanety Dosto was a terrible planet to start on! Radiation was thick in the air, which was mixed with toxic fumes of who knows what. Needless to say, not only did I need stay alive, but I still had to get my ship off the ground.
This is the basic intro that every space traveler will have to go through: Learn how to fix your crashed ship, get off the planet, and go from there. I cannot express “go from there” enough, this is everything No Man’s Sky is about and wants its player base to do. In a universe with 18 quintillion planets, there’s a lot of exploring to do. Wait did you just say 18 quintillion, you ask, yes I did. This game is laughably massive. So big in fact that no one person will ever see it all, nor will the entire game be discovered by the player base. Sean Murray the founder of Hello Games has stated this so much I’m surprised he doesn’t just wear a shirt with this information on it.
This sense of scale though, as intimidating as it can be at first, actually frees up a lot of room for exploration. Knowing that I will never see it all, I’m free to carve out my own path and do as a please. It actually provides a sense of relief. Those who like to find everything in a game might find this is not the game for them. No Man’s Sky is about jumping in and figuring out exactly what you want to do with your play time. Between all of my play sessions so far I find myself doing different things, not only to learn the game, but because I have the time. Some things I’ve avoided entirely. Yes, there is an underlying narrative (I will cover this in a later write up), but knowing that I’m in this infinite universe I know I have the time to do what I want. It didn’t feel like The Witcher 3, where I found getting distracted from finding Ciri out of place and awkwardly placed. If I want to learn as much of an alien language as I want, sure! Mine all the resources to your hearts content, why not! This freedom to be who I want to be, going where I want to go is pure wanderlust dream.
What’s even more impressive about this game, is the sense of scale. I know I’ve already mentioned how many planets there are, but how big are they? They’re planet sized! That’s right every planet encountered is in the realm of possibility on scale with our actual universe. If you wanted to you could just stay on the planet you were on, and it would probably take you awhile to walk all the way around. With every marker on the map a timer is shown (this might be my favorite feature); the timer tells you exactly how long it will take to get to whatever destination you happen to be looking at, in real time! The first time I saw it was going to take me five hours to get to a space station, at the speed I was going, I almost wanted to walk away for five hours just to see (I probably would have been attacked by space pirates though). This small feature goes to show just how big this game is, and I love it.
For things I’m not liking in this game: the inventory system could definitely use an overhaul. I’m playing on PS4 and there have been more than a few moments when I wished I didn’t have to go in my inventory just to reload my gun or repair my ship shields. The first time I encountered this was when a group of space pirates attacked me, taking me shields down, I had to quickly bring them back online, or I was toast. Like Dark Souls the game does not pause when opening your inventory; this leaves you vulnerable to anything around that might want to do you harm, and those few seconds have become precious. I’ve definitely gotten better at this, also thanks to Destiny which suffers from something similar. Maybe they’ll tweak this later but I imagine it will be easier to manage inventory on PC.
Graphically the game is fine, I actually really enjoy it. It’s not trying to be the best looking space game, nor the best looking game. It retains a simple style that fits the Sci-Fi narrative. Keeping it simple while still polished is impressive, being that everything encountered is procedurally generated, even more so. It does suffer from loading things in as you approach them, but this isn’t the biggest of deals. Flying from space into a planet’s atmosphere is pretty cool looking, even if stuff is slowly popping into the frame. I have had the game crash on my once so far. I don’t know if this was from server overload, or the game generating too much at once, but I imagine it was a mix of both. There’s a lot of factors that go in to making a simulated universe, so I can forgive this easily.
As it stands right now, I am immensely enjoying my time with No Man’s Sky. The game has met all expectations, and I’m sure will continue to impress. I will be doing follow-ups to this piece with more in-depth explanations of systems, gameplay, and everything else, all accumulating into a big, beautiful full review. For more unique perspectives on No Man’s Sky just keep checking back, and I will keep you updated! See you in space traveler!
No Man’s Sky is out now on PS4 and coming to PC later this week. To order from Amazon, click here.