Review — No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky is a pretty weird game. It just released a few days ago after being hyped for years, and in general, while the game is really well made, I’m not entirely sure I actually like it.

Basically, this is a single player game that doesn’t have much story. This game is an infinite sandbox of exploration. The whole point is to explore planets and moons and and catalog all of the species of fauna and flora you find there. This entire game is essentially an extremely sophisticated generator. Every animal I find is different from the next, and if you discover everything there is to find on one planet (a feat I have yet to achieve), you can hop in your spaceship and fly to the next.

It’s a really interesting game because you’re basically never going to experience the same thing a second time. I have yet to see anything that can come close to the vast expanse of things there are in this game.

Unfortunately, the actual gameplay is sort of monotonous. On every planet there are several structures, which can be ruins, trading post, beacons, etc. The problem with this is that these places are intended to be ‘checkpoints’ for your exploration, and they are all the same from one another. The only sense of novelty you get in this game is seeing things for the first time, but you’ll see all of the structures and space stations several times simply because that’s where the game wants you to be when you’re done with your expeditions.

The story is almost nonexistent, which sounds bad, but that’s actually fine. It’s not the point of the game. The story is more of an arrow to guide you to getting better and better equipment and whatnot, but there are almost no repercussions if you ignore it.

One huge problem I have with this game is how restrictive it feels. It could simply be that I haven’t played it enough, but your character starts off with about thirty slots of inventory space, only to have half of those slots be taken up by necessary equipment. To add salt to the wound, much of that equipment requires fuel that you absolutely need on you, meaning you have very little room to actually collect valuable minerals. A lot of the time when I was playing I would be running around with a full inventory miles away from my ship, frantically looking for a structure I can call my ship to so I can sell everything. It doesn’t feel good when that frantic search means you’re running into valuable things you can’t afford to pick up simply because you don’t have space for it.

The worst part about all of this is that its a single player game. I can’t play this game with friends, not because they’re hundreds of thousands of lightyears away (which, don’t get me wrong, is a bit of a roadblock), but because even if you did land on the same planet, you wouldn’t be able to see each other and play together. Sure, you can talk to each other over the console party system (or voice chats if you’re playing on the computer), but saying “Whoa there’s this huge flying manta ray on this planet!” Isn’t nearly as cool as experiencing that huge flying manta ray with your friend.

As I’ve read somewhere, this game is a million miles wide, but only a foot deep. You can explore endlessly and never see a fraction of what this game has to offer, and yet you’ll always be doing the same sorts of things.

Overall, it’s a well made game. I won’t deny that. I like to explore, and it is fun, but there aren’t really enough mechanics in this game to make me excited to keep playing. I believe they’ll be adding more content in the future, which I’m interested in. I only hope they add it in the right direction.

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