My ship is damaged, whether from the crash I just endured or before it I am unclear. The world that surrounds me is colourful, a sea of bright purples and deep reds. The wildlife is semi-ordinary, some have 4 legs and wander around like I would expect of cattle grazing in a field but this certainly isn’t Earth. No, this is Quintelline A-33 and this is the full No Man’s Sky review from GameSquare.
Lets start at the beginning, it was choo-choo for the hype train 3 years ago when the game was announced at VGX 2013, the stunning visuals combined with the open-universe gameplay was incredibly enticing. Since then, its only been increasing in speed, the promise of 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 life sized planets drawing the consumers in, much like the black holes that feature in the game. August 9 2016 was the date set for us all to get our hands on this gaming revolution so we popped into our local game retailer.
Now being dubbed as the “Most Returned Game of 2016”
And that was where the fairytale unfortunately ended for me. Now being dubbed as the “Most Returned Game of 2016”, No Man’s Sky left people wandering about the universe in search of a tangible objective. Sure, the centre of the universe had a certain poetic draw about it but in reality it just left us deeply disappointed and craving for… more. It was almost as though there was TOO much.
Now that my personal gripes are out of the way, let’s get in the good stuff. If you were unaware the game starts with your character being marooned on one of the 18×10^14 or so planets that occupy the universe. Your ship has crash landed and thus you need to gather materials and craft pieces in order to fix it. These include your Warp Drive, used for moderately quick transit through solar systems, your Phase Beam, one of the weapons on board your ship and finally your HyperDrive which will allow you to make the jump between systems. The first planet was typically very lush with everything you’d want to find in your first experience of the game (we tried it a couple of times for measure) with all the resources you’d need within about a 10 minute commute. The tutorial section was very unobtrusive which we enjoyed, however it did leave a few crucial elements out, nothing a quick Google search couldn’t rectify, but nonetheless, leaving out the fact that organising your multi-tool parts in a certain order would yield better performance, was something we picked up on.
20 or so minutes of foraging and fixing later, your ship will most likely be raring to go, having been topped up on the game’s main fuel source, Plutonium. Your “My First Spaceship” is very basic, with only a handful of inventory slots. “My First Alien Blaster come Universal Mining Tool” is similarly *scrupulous*? and your personal inventory can quickly become full after your initial foray into the wild. This means you’ll likely want to head in the general direction of your solar system’s Space Station. These large structures, some of which bear an uncanny resemblance to the Death Start (copyright?) are an important tool as they allow you to buy and sell materials in the Galactic Market. An envoy from one of the 3 intelligent species will also be present, allowing you to improve your standing with that race through a short dialogue exchange or the gift of some elements. A nice touch indeed, but again was something that didn’t really feel to occupy much in the way of a purposeful endeavour.
A beautiful screen shot of a forest planet that was found in No Mans Sky, although I bet that rain was Toxic!
A few trade trips and mining runs to the planets in your system should yield enough resources to complete your HyperDrive and subsequently build your first Warp Core. Navigate through the elegant if somewhat disappointing UI and you’ll be able to install your Warp Core and be ready and raring to get off to another Solar System and start the process again. I say disappointing UI because, whilst its looks are befitting on the genre, it lacks the simple ability to snap to the nearest inventory square, a feature which would have been child’s play to implement and the lack of leaves the menu experience sluggish and, at times, tedious.
By now you will have discovered a few new species and planets and so will want to get into the menu and name your findings. This feature allows you to name and upload the systems and planets you have discovered for a small financial reward. It begins as a bit of fun, naming your system something that Harambe would have been proud of but it very quickly becomes a chore that you really can’t be bothered with and you will find yourself simply uploading the planets and species with the procedurally generated names the game assigns to them.
The Galactic Map is stunningly beautiful and visually I couldn’t have asked for more, the background music as well completes a very spiritual and dream like experience. Your first venture out of your solar system will be towards the centre of the universe, one of the games two main objectives. A few systems in and you will encounter an Anomaly, another floating object that contains a character who will enlighten you as to a) the path of the Atlas, b) the location of a black hole or c) just give you some resources and send you on your way. The Path of the Atlas is the other of the games main ‘storylines’, though I use the word very loosely. I never played the game long enough to work out what the bloody hell the path of the Atlas was so as far as I’m concerned its a wild goose chase around solar systems which occasionally yields a couple of high value rewards and some new words to add to your lingual database. The Black Hole route simply beams you much closer to the centre of the universe, thus cutting the amount of time and light speed jumps you need to reach it.
And thats it! Well, no, not really, but thats where the OC unfortunately ends. Cross this point and you’ve only got a lifetime of exploring, mining, selling, exploring mining selling exploringminingselling. Get the picture? I hate to be ‘that guy’ but in this case I most definitely am going to be. I ranted and raved to my friends about how awesome this game was going to be because of the almost infinite universe and the gorgeous visuals and the fact that you could pump hours and hours and hours into it and so for me to then say that the infinite universe is exactly whats wrong with this game is very wrong of me. The game is TOO big and lacks a real endgame, something which leaves me at a loss to find reasons to continue playing it. Sure I could play it for a thousand hours until eventually I got the upgraded Atlas Pass V3, something that gives me access to those mysterious doors on the other side of a space station, and see whats beyond the locked door but it just wasn’t enough for me.
No Man’s Sky
has had so much potential but a couple of crucial errors made us lose interest within a couple of days. A lack of multiplayer, whilst not everyones cup of tea was certainly a disappointment for me. The technology behind the game is fascinating and credit to Hello Games for creating a truly beautiful visual experience to go along with it, but unfortunately its tedious gameplay scores low with me.
Words by: Stephen Parkinson