To infinity and beyond just doesn’t cut it – A review of No Man’s Sky

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Jonathan Greenstein

American football playing individual|Patriots fan|Aspiring author & blogger|Thinks of himself as a bit of an entrepreneur|Ever hungry mind that is always willing to share|All round swell guy | Twitter - @J_Greenstein

I’m not sure how I feel about No Man’s Sky. On one hand Hello Games’ new space adventure game it’s absolutely beautiful. Yes, I know landscapes tend to materialise out of thin air as you approach them but with a game as infinitely large as this, I can forgive the draw distance loading issues. But, on the other hand it’s pretty directionless. I’v sunk a few hours in now, i’v got to my second solar system, explored a bunk of planets, named some discoveries (see the image below for the Skyworm family of creatures), fought off space pirates, tried my hand at space piracy (and failed) and mined for materials.

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In the hours I have played it, I’m left asking… What’s the point? It’s allowing to be as close as (currently) possible of fulfilling my dream of space travel but if I went into space, I’d like to think it was to do something more productive than a solar safari.

I can’t begin to explain how big the game actually is. Like you, I saw the hype before its release but nothing prepared me for a scale this grand. Without using boosts, travel between celestial bodies can take hours (I’m not exaggerating here, literally hours). Planets themselves are enormous as well with it taking an age to travel on foot. If you need to travel on a planet, jump in your ship, go into the atmosphere, travel along the circumstance and then land, it knocks a huge chunk of time off. This all pales in comparison to the size of the universe. It’s big. Like, really really big. And with all players inhabiting the same universe, it’s no wonder players would probably never meet and equally astounding that two players met on the first day. Before I got the game, I read other reviews and thought “how hard can it be for two players to bump into each other.” Now I can see why it’s a virtual impossibility and why the game is listed as single player.

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Anyone who played Spore would remember the creature creator. Spore holds nothing to No Man’s Sky creature variety. I saw small and large bipods, small and large quadrupeds, bouncing scaly fish blog things, Skyworms (creatively named by yours truly), crab spider hybrids and so much more. It really does seem endless as to what the game engine can create. One aspect I nerded out over was that animals have slight variations between sub species but still retain the characterises of the genus or family of the life forms. as a whole. It gave the game a wonderfully life like aspect. If anyone cares to learn more about the evolution of specifies, I’d suggest watching David Attenborough’s Galapagos. The show gives great examples. Another aspect I love it little features such as scratches that slowly develop over time on your cockpit’s glass.

Skyworm - I wasn't expecting to find it flying
Skyworm – I wasn’t expecting to find it flying

The procedurally generated nature of the game is very impressive. From your procedurally generated starting ship and planet to the procedurally generated score, it’s like the games engine takes the same building blocks and is constantly reassembles them in new ways. Talking about the score, the soundtrack is positively space operatic and wouldn’t be out of place in the likes of (name space opera films) which makes that fact that’s it’s procedurally generated even more remarkable. The background music changes so subtly that you don’t notice and really leads to the games immersion.

No Man’s Sky is an adventure experience/simulator for that explorer inside everyone. The hype surrounding its development and release was ambitious to say the least. It ways it pulls off off the hype but in other ways it feels flat. No Man’s Sky lacks a degree of depth that you find in other games but makes up for this with its breadth. Procedurally generated worlds, solar systems and aliens and unlimited places to explore. What would I like to see in the game? I would love Star Wars style civilisations to explore of certain planets as opposed to small, uninhabited/scarcely inhabited outposts and ancient aliens monoliths. How amazing would it be to arrive on a planet, explore for a while and come across a town, village or city. Spore did this a bit but that game also left me wanting more. You may have heard the comparison between No Man’s Sky and Minecraft. No Man’s Sky is a survival game and has the general tropes of mining, building and resource management but it is a different game altogether. I’d define fly recommend No Man’s Sky but will I be playing it in a month? Maybe? Depends if Hello Games releases updates, more story and more depth.

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Jonathan Greenstein

American football playing individual|Patriots fan|Aspiring author & blogger|Thinks of himself as a bit of an entrepreneur|Ever hungry mind that is always willing to share|All round swell guy | Twitter - @J_Greenstein

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