No Man’s Sky Review
By: Evan Miller
When can you call a game good? Well it comes from a unquestionable feeling that comes from seeing every mechanic working together to create variety of different things and surprises that cause the player to feel emotions about the world they are in or feel the world as if they are diving into it. No Man’s Sky, by contrast, is a huge collection of parts that are not able to find that harmony required by its mechanics to bring those emotions forth. No Man’s Sky was supposed to be a game that would change gaming by adding an algorithm that made variety and constantly changing worlds to being repetitive and unoriginal. No Man’s Sky reached for the stars, but ended up not making quite out the solar system.
Now, do not get me wrong to the game’s credit, it has an unheard of scale and scope of its procedurally generated sci-fi universe and which is similar to the algorithm of Minecraft’s world generation but expanded upon. That’s where its credit sadly ends as too many planets have too much of a similar look to one another with just a difference in color and some of the plant life on each planet is almost exactly the same but just with changed color palates. Even though there are a difference in weather patterns between each planet, which was something that I found awesome that helped make a small difference in the feel of each planet, though this doesn’t make up for anything else for the random generated planets. A game that is supposed to pull you into a realistic sci-fi universe, fails by having the same quality graphics as a PS2 game with an almost shell shade look.
Inventory management, is a big deal in this game that I have to touch on. You constantly have to check between three different screens of inventory. 1.) Being your exosuit. 2.) Being your ship and 3.) your multi tool. Your exosuit holds a certain amount of items with having your Life Support and Hazard Suit taking up some of those slots which there is nothing wrong with that I think that puts some realism on what your suit actually contains, the exact same for the ship having some of its slots taken up by its laser turrets, hyper drive, launch thrusters, and pulse thrusters.
Where inventory management comes in, is you constantly have to go into your menus making sure you have the right amount of isotopes to fix your gear, while having to craft things that will take up space, finding things along the way you may want to sell or give. It then comes down deciding what you need to get rid of to make room for certain things you want, while making sure you keep the things you may need later. I felt that sometimes I was in my menus way too much than I wanted to be which hurts the game, but at the same time doesn’t hurt it enough as this is sometimes a necessity needed to be done when you are attempting to survive in an unknown land.
Something I would look like to touch on, is the alien life forms that you meet. Some of the animal creatures you meet are very unique and something to marvel, the creatures actually do vary in different manners which is something that makes exploring the planet a lot more interesting in my opinion as you can see creatures that are both passive in nature that run away in fear to aggressively chasing you down to attempt to devour you. However, the advanced lifeforms are not as unique. Now there are major races that exist in this galaxy from the Gekt, the Atlas, a few others that are mentioned. These advanced lifeforms when you speak to them, do speak in different languages that you need to discover in order to better understand what they are trying to communicate to you. While you may not understand them you can still interact with them and be able to build a relationship with the advanced lifeform that will equal in trading materials or even learning more words of the life forms language. Other than flavor text that describes the lifeforms reactions, I feel this would have been majorly improved if they actually had the creatures do the actions described than making a few squack noises and just standing/sitting there.
Space exploration is probably the major plus as you can freely leave the planet’s atmosphere, go to one of its moons and land without a single loading screen popping up at all. You can freely do this as much as you want from wherever you are in the solar system. Of course the only time there is a time you have to wait is when you hyper jump to another solar system, but this makes sense as this process would definitely take an amount of time to do so. The graphics for moving in space, pulse jumping, hyper driving, and seeing other planets/colonies are absolutely stunning and definitely an improvement compared to the planet surface’s graphics (which I covered being comparable to PS2 graphics).
What hurts the space exploration though are the controls for your space ship. The space ship controls are extremely wacky and make movements of your ship hard to handle. You constantly have to fight with slowing down to fix where you want to go, and that is just going at the normal speed without boost or pulse jumping. You have to go in one direction almost to have no problems but that doesn’t make the flying enjoyable. Now the landing system works well as it will always land you perfectly on the surface as long as there are no mountains. However there may be moments where, your ship perfectly lands inside a cave that you can’t get out of and end up blowing your ship up, with it being spawned in another location nearby with all of its parts greatly damaged. So be sure to look once the planet fully fleshes out where you are at before pressing square or you could end up in this weird scenario.
No auto saves, can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Good as it makes you actively strive to survive, being cautious about your supplies, and making sure not to aggravate the wildlife till you at least find a beacon that will save your progress. However, unfortunate accidents such as playstation having an unexpected error for no reason (which I have had happen once in my game while seeing it happen to a friend). Another of these unfortunate events is if the power goes out after you just got enough warp cells in your hyper drive to leave the star system. This leaves you having to redo everything to get back to that point if you didn’t happen to save at that time.
Combat is kinda bland and unappealing. It has a super auto aim that basically as long as your reticle is around the target, you will definitely hit it consistently. Most of the combats I was in on the ground were with Drones that were attacking you at protecting pretty much every steel door facility on the different planets. This becomes old quick and should have put an aggressive advanced life forms into the mix to add a sense of variety and danger. While space combat, was an improvement even with the hard controls for your ship. In space I felt there was an actual challenge present and that there is a possibility of death if I screw up. When I took down my first few ships, I felt awesome and that excitement to me still stuck with each battle I had.
Survival and exploration on the planets are the thing that make me enjoy this game the most as there are definitely things worth exploring all over the planet from ancient alien artifacts that you interact with that build toward the history of the galaxy you are in, to factories and stations that have upgraded equipment that may be necessary for you in the future. I feel that the game definitely awards those who explore around, as it gives you money just for finding any lifeforms on that planet. If you have a sense of adventure and want to look at things before you move on to the next system this game is definitely something you will enjoy.
Closing out, I will say that this game may be rough around the edges and definitely was disappointing in some aspects. I do not feel this is a bad game, or a good game. It’s just a game that has its points that hurt it, but can still be enjoyable to people in the same notion. After saying that, I give this game a 6 out of 10. Though this game didn’t quite make it out of the solar system like I wanted, maybe someday there will be a continuation of this game that will reach the stars.