Some games hope to draw you in through flashy combat. Other’s hope that their story is enough to pull you in until the very end. While still, others hope that their creative genius is enough to hold your attention. Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, attempts to do such by way of its vast universe to explore. So let’s touch on that, shall we?
The game starts you off with a brilliant light show as you go flying through the cosmos. Stars whizz by. If you look around you’ll see some stars named, tho they usually pass just fast enough that you’ll miss it. A few moments of loading later and you are deposited on a random world in this near infinite cosmos. A bright white light blinds you for a moment before your visor adjusts. Your first objective being to repair your damaged ship.
A short tutorial of sorts happens around here as you run around using your nifty little multi-tool to mine the area of needed resources. As you explore you’ll likely find that the environment itself wants you dead. Be it through extreme heat, acidic spores, or freezing cold, most planets have some reason to keep an eye on your Environmental Protection meter.
As you progress you’ll quickly find that the game is not very fast paced. Collecting resources is quick and easy, but finding enough to actually accomplish your goals can take time. Travel is set to a brisk walk save for short bursts of sprinting, unless you get clever in the use of the jetpack your Exosuit comes equipped with. As time rolls on you may find yourself having let 2 solid hours pass just running around collecting carbon and iron as well as a few other key ingredients. Finally, you fix up the Launch Thrusters and Pulse engine. So you hop into the little starter ship. Inside the cockpit is actually a nice surprise, you stay in first person at nearly all times. The inside of your ship has a few different screens each displaying useful information, such as fuel levels, current speed, shield strength and current weapon. Once more the visuals of it are rather impressive. With the last hour or so’s worth of work in mind, you take to the sky, ready to finally explore all the universe has to offer. As you breach the Atmosphere it teaches you about how to use your pulse engines to boost your speed or even do an impressive pulse jump that eats up the potential hours of distance in just a few seconds to maybe a minute. Right here I’d like to make special mention of exactly how large the areas you fly in are. To reach a planet without boosting or using the pulse jumps it can easily take 8 hours from one planet to the next.
You’ll arrive at your first space station shortly after, assuming you don’t let your wanderlust take over and lead you astray. On the station you’ll find a Market console that when you interact with displays your stats and titles, for things such as sentinel combat, distance traveled, Money acquired as well as a few others. Near the console of this first station, you’ll likely also find an alien life form. With 18 quintillion planets, and randomized animals and planets, one may be lead to suspect that there’s likely to be hundreds of alien races. But as far as I can find it seems to only be 3 that are capable of interstellar travel, and a fourth Ancient style race that seems to be out to guide you. They embody rather broad terms of scientist, Warrior, and Trader. Interactions with them are kept almost painfully simple, by way of a pick 1 of 3 guessing game. The lifeform will say something, at game start you’ll find it to be gibberish, but as you progress and explore you’ll find “Learning Stones” small pillars that hold a word from one of the 4 languages. Depending on your choice your reputation with the race will rise, stay the same or fall. It’s usually rather simple to figure out what each interaction wants through the context clues of your character’s unusually perceptive insight into these races he’s never met before. It seems that all interactions are much the same as this. Activate the object in question, be informed by a small passage of text from your mysterious character that explains how the object or creature makes him feel then play a small guessing game be rewarded, punished or kept neutral then move on. At this point, the only thing left of the Tutorial is to recharge your Hyperdrive. This leaves you open to explore planets, discover small planet side bases, monoliths ripe with ancient knowledge which happens to explain more of a language, or to just seek upgrades to your multi-tool, Ship, or Exosuit.
The issues with the game start about here sadly. with 18 quintillion planets, some people pointed out that “It’s going to start to feel repetitive after a while!” Well sadly they were right. So long as you get lucky and hit other environments, for a while it won’t seem it, but if you find another planet with the same Hazard you’ll quickly start to feel like you never left the previous planet. differing levels of Flora and Fauna help break this up, but you’ll quickly start to notice that the “Kolper Sicotse”, are popping up on more than one planet with a minor tweak to their appearance such as a fin where the last had a tuft of feathers or was simply a different color. Grammar and spelling errors will glaringly stick out at random points in interactions with the world. Combat in No Man’s Sky isn’t much to write home about, get a proper weapon upgrade and fire at the enemy. The auto aim will help correct for how slow the turn speed is, and makes the act of fighting feel much like an afterthought when on planets. The Space combat is a bit more challenging and in at least my opinion much more satisfying.
Overall as the game sits right now, it feels rather, bland. There just isn’t enough to do aside from fly from one planet to the next being credited for discovering things. Once that novelty wears off, it’s difficult to stay interested. However, there is good news. Hello Game’s seems intent on updating and adding content to No Man’s Sky as time goes on, as was shown with the Day 1 Update adding quite a few things to the game. So with any luck, No Man’s Sky will continue to grow and we’ll see more content to fill out this beautiful yet oddly empty feeling universe they’ve created.