No Man's Sky | To Infinity And Beyond

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What would you do, if you had an entire galaxy to yourself? Would you explore the unforgiving expanses of the cosmos with a righteous thirst for knowledge and adventure?  Would you brave the perils of interstellar travel to uncover uncharted worlds ripe for habitation; or exploitation? Would you forge alliances with the noble aliens with whom you share a reality; or would you massacre your way to the heart of the Universe because it’s obviously more fun? Well imagine no longer; because No Man’s Sky is here; and with an entire galaxy at your disposal, there are literally infinite ways to have a good time. Right?

I’m well aware of everything Hello Games achieved when they built No Man’s Sky. Who am I, a mere unemployed blogger to cast judgement upon the team that created a procedurally generated galaxy, when my own understanding of mathematics ends at subtraction?  As a gamer, I’ve nothing but respect for everything they’ve achieved, especially after watching the Internet Historian’s insane documentary on the whole situation. But I can’t let my personal feelings get in the way of a critical overview of the game. No Man’s Sky, so flawless in its concept; one where you share an almost infinite universe with millions of other players for around the world, forging your own destiny in whatever manner you choose – has its fair share of problems.

It starts just like every other survival game. You find yourself washed up on the shores of a godforsaken hellhole and you need to find a way out, before you succumb to the treacherous climate or your computer just gives up and spontaneously combusts from just how demanding the game is; whatever comes first. It’s at this point that you experience your first reason to dislike No Man’s Sky. The learning curve is absurdly high, demanding first-time players, many of whom are as stupid as I am, learn how to gather resources, craft upgrades, and understand a complicated inventory management system, all while being slowly bled dry by the elemental forces (cold, heat, poison, or radiation) of whatever planet they randomly spawn on. It’s honestly, rather boring.

If you don’t like reading, or have the attention span of a gnat, you’ll inevitably miss an important instruction, which will lead to you untimely demise at some point in the game. The system of upgrading your gear, whether it’s your gun, spaceship, or exo-suit, is insanely complicated, and not properly explained in the tutorial; but rather something you’ll slowly begin to grasp after the 100th hour of gameplay. You need to have a lot of patience to stomach the tutorial, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone new to the survival genre or goddamn casuals, but once you sink a couple of hours into the story, things really start to get interesting, with space battles, base building, and treasure hunts. It can however, also devolve into an infinite loop where you land on a planet, gather resources, recharge your ship’s systems, leave the planet, and warp to a new one, then start all over again. No Man’s Sky, for all its spectacular worlds and adventures; is at its core, a game where you point your gun at rocks and pull the trigger for 20 seconds.

And then there are the game-breaking bugs that will render certain quests unplayable thereby halting your entire progression. I’d rather not get into that subject, lest this review devolve into an uninformative rant about how I skipped the live-stream of my nephew’s christening to complete a story mission, only to have a ridiculous bug cause an impasse in my first play through. Though some would say I deserved it.

The Decree

So, would I recommend No Man’s Sky? It’s complicated. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, spending over 250 hours on a single play through. I personally love the base building and gorgeous 1960’s style graphics, but the numerous bugs I encountered really soured my experience, especially since the game is four years old and those ought to have been fixed. I almost find the thought of exploring the cosmos all by myself therapeutic in a lot of ways, and the idea of encountering another player in infinite expanse of space; despite the overwhelming odds, incomprehensibly beautiful. I would rate No Man’s Sky 8.0 on 10, by virtue of its ambitiousness, design, and billions of hours of game play. It’s definitely worth buying; as long as you know what you’re getting into.

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