No Man’s Sky Review – PS4

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Posted August 29, 2016 by Ryan Campbell in Comic Books

Developed By: Hello Games

Published By: Hello Games

Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed), PC

It’s perhaps the greatest irony of No Man’s Sky that the game cannot be accurately represented in a number; it’s so different to so many in the same way each planet you visit and animal you see even if slightly resembling others is unique to you alone. Of course, the irony lies that in a game where emotion and personal experience reflect so heavily on your opinion of it, yet it’s all numbers and math evoking these responses.

No Man’s Sky is not a meticulously crafted story meant to expose important facets of the human condition or our insatiable desire for discovery. It is not a universe created down to the last detail to engage our sense of wonder and imagination. It is not these things, but yet it achieves all of these things. While most games spent years carefully developing every speck you see in the game’s universe, the team at Hello Games took a different approach. They set about creating the laws and system the universe would operate under, then set it loose. Not a single ship, animal, planet, or rock was actually built and placed by a designer. They created the elements and attributes, then unloaded them on a universe governed by a mathematical algorithm that would populate the universe at will. I know this element of the game’s development has been explored ad nauseam, but I can’t help but keep being reminded of it as I visit every new planet and watch the sun rise on the horizon as I take off into the cosmos.

I have been enamored with this game since its first reveal what feels like forever ago. Usually, this is bad news; I’m reminded of Watch Dogs and how I thought that game would change everything. Fast forward to its release, and after the long wait, I had just run out of steam on it and have still yet to play it. No Man’s Sky had reserved a special place in my consciousness throughout its reveals, delays, patent disputes, hate mail, and even floods destroying equipment at the already small development studio. (You know, typical game development stuff.) I remember writing on this very site how the story of its creator Sean Murray and his team intrigued me just as much as the game itself. Now that the game is out, and I can explore the universe, the context of its creation and development story lends itself greatly to my experience factor of the game.

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I write all of this with the firm understanding that not everyone is me, and that gets at the crux of why this game is hard to pin a number on. It will be so much to so many, and nothing to many. Shortly after its reveal, and a fascinating long interview Sony did with Sean, it was clear this would be a divisive game that many would love and many would just plain not get. In that interview, Sean stressed how there would be no handholding, how the universe had stories but it would be up to you to find them, and these events would not play out in front of you like many gamers are used to. While this excited me I understood it would turn off many. The idea of a decent amount of leisure downtime, a relaxed exploratory game that didn’t place too high of stakes on the player was a notch in the plus column for me, but I understood it would not engage others. It is a special experience that is not for everyone, and that’s ok.

Since its initial reveal trailer, it has lost some of its shine as the reality of the game sets in. It is a bit of a bummer to not live some of the excellent moments seen in the trailer, but so is the nature of game development in our age. When the game hit’s that moment when you crest a cliff and the sun shines in your face, that iridescent grass glows and flying centipedes soar over your head and it hits me that I am the first person to see this and experience this, in that moment no game can beat that. These moments happen regularly as well.

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There are so many nuances in this game that I feel like go into a normal review that I just don’t want to write about. Flying controls? solid, inventory screens? solid. Enemy ai, mechanics, upgrade trees. All of these things are elements of No Man’s Sky and they are all fine but what this game is to me is a feeling and emotional experience. What it captures and delivers so well is the freedom of spirit and exploration. After the opening hour or so the game opens up to various paths and methods of exploration. I am in love with the Atlas route, the ancient relics of a lost civilization calling out from the stars. I get so excited when I see a Monolith or Plaque pop up on my planetary scanner, I tell myself I will find a save point and quit only to still be chasing down relics 2 hours later. The game sucks up my time like nothing I have ever experienced and I am a loyal Destiny player! So this brings me back to my initial sense of irony, how numbers and equations evoke such an emotional response from me I cannot seem to accurately give it a number.

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Perhaps the number that best reflects my feeling on this game is a very small one, 3.5. If you go to the Playstation store to download No Man’s Sky you will see the game will only take 3.5gb of hard drive space. Think about that for a second, a practically endless game of creatures, planets, plants and spaceships takes up slightly more space than Rocket League. That figure alone encapsulates the mind-bending framework the game exists in. Since I can’t seem to give the game a score that will mean much to the masses I will simply give it a score of what it means to me. No Man’s Sky is not for everyone, but it is definitely for me.

No Man's Sky

9

Final Score


9.0/10

Pros

  • Beautiful visuals
  • Sense of expolration
  • Relaxing

Cons

  • Not quite up to reveal trailers
  • Lack of tutorials when starting out



About the Author

Ryan Campbell

Avid gamer from Cincinnati Ohio. Also love Star Wars and Wrestling. Big basketball fan and dabble in really every other nerd thing out there. I would rather have a Gundam then Superpowers, so there is that.