One of the most hyped and mysterious games of 2016 has finally arrived. Developed by indie studio Hello Games, No Man’s Sky is all about exploration and survival in an infinitely expandable universe. We got our first glimpse of this epic game at the VGX Awards in December 2013, andNo Man’s Sky was formally announced at Sony’s 2014 E3 press conference. Catching the eye of many gamers, including myself, No Man’s Sky has the prestige and honour of being the first independently-developed game to be demonstrated at such a high profile press conference.
Available for the PlayStation 4, No Man’s Sky allows you to visit never before seen worlds and collect ancient artifacts that where once only imaginable. About a month before No Man’s Sky’s planned June release, Sony and Hello Games announced that the game would be delayed by several weeks. During these additional few weeks, extra polish was used to bring No Man’s Sky up to Hello Games standards. This left many fans wondering if No Man’s Sky would deliver an epic adventure, or leave us drifting alone in cold space.
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Action-adventure, survival
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Journey to the centre of the galaxy
In No Man’s Sky, you play as the Traveller who wakes up on a strange new world. You quickly discover that your scanner is malfunctioning, your Multi-tool is on the fritz, your Analysis Visor is busted, and your spacecraft is grounded. What a way to start out your day! After receiving a message from a mysterious entity known as the Atlas, it offers guidance and direction to help you repair your spacecraft.
Luckily, your Exosuit, Life Support System, and Environmental Protection System are functional. Your job is to collect resources around the mysterious and strange planet, in order to get your spacecraft back up and running. After performing a hyperspace jump to another solar system, you’ll encounter your first alien species who inhabit the galaxy—The Gek, The Korvax, and the Vy’keen.
As you make friends, trade, and interact with the many alien species, you learn that they can help guide you towards meeting the Atlas. Along your journey, you’ll collect Atlas Stones that you will need as you travel to the centre of the galaxy. While No Man’s Sky’s narrative might not be as fascinating as many had hoped for, it does the job by giving a meaning and purpose to the Traveller’s journey.
The gameplay of No Man’s Sky is built on four pillars—exploration, survival, combat, and trading. During development, Hello Games deliberately kept many of No Man’s Sky’s gameplay mechanics and details a secret to allow players to discover them for themselves. With over 18 quintillion procedurally generated planets, you have complete freedom to do almost anything. As I made my way across the galaxy, I was able to quickly learn the game’s crafting system well.
One of No Man’s Sky’s biggest features is the ability to break down items in the environment around you and reconstruct it into devices to fit your need. For example, you can collect raw elements to upgrade your suit and ship, or sometimes craft rare fuels to launch your ship into the deeper reaches of space. As a Scientist, the Traveller has a hunger for knowledge. In turn, you have the ability to scan alien lifeforms and name the creatures you find. While it is extremely rare, some planets you encounter have traces of long gone intelligent species. Going inside these structures can reward you with extra lore and schematics for improving your gear.
Communicating directly with other alien species is a bit confusing in the beginning, while you can walk up to them and start communicating, all that appears onscreen is gibberish. Luckily, money is the universal language, so you can still buy, sell, and trade with them. The more you interact with a certain species, the friendlier they become. This can lead to better items and sometimes-special side quests. I found that if you want to make friends with alien lifeforms easily, you can simply take out their enemies. When space pirates show up, taking them out will gain you points with nearby friendly alien species.
An incredibly vast universe
Few people will argue that No Man’s Sky is one of the biggest games ever created, though I found that the vast majority of the planets I explored were void of life. Most were full of rocks, and appeared to serve only as a place to gather more resources before flying to a more interesting part of the solar system. Although No Man’s Sky’s universe is incredibly vast, after visiting my 100th planet, I started to notice that many things seemed all too familiar.
While walking over a hill and seeing a huge distant moon fill your horizon, or getting lost in a crystal-filled cave is exciting at first, but seeing these sites repeated across different planets diminishes their wow factor. That being said, I put over 70 hours into No Man’s Sky and absolutely loved the experience. This is a type of game that you could put hundreds of hours into and still discover something new.
Exotically gorgeous visuals
Overall, Hello Games did a fantastic job with No Man’s Sky’s presentation—the game runs at 1080p with a capped 30fps frame-rate. The textures are detailed, and the game has a great art style, which uses a wide assortment of colours and pastels. However, with the lack of any motion blur, it resulted in a less-than-smooth motion when moving the camera around. Additionally, I encountered occasional frame rate stutter when flying through the atmosphere of newly discovered planets, and some objects would suddenly pop in. Luckily, these occasional “hiccups” did not take away from the sheer joy I experienced while playing this game.
In addition to exotically gorgeous visuals, the games audio is just as impressive. With ambient effects such as roaring dust storms and the eerie cries of the wildlife—you’ll feel like your right there beside the Traveller. Just as the game’s planets are procedurally generated, so is No Man’s Sky’s underlying soundtrack. By using base samples created by Paul Weir and the musical group 65daysofstatic, Hello Games have created a deep and rich soundtrack that perfectly fits with the sci-fi theme of No Man’s Sky.
If you are the type of person that craves exploration, and don’t mind mining minerals—than No Man’s Sky is definitely for you. Travelling around the universe, I was able to discover a great deal about No Man’s Sky’s surroundings, and it gave me a real sense of accomplishment along my journey. I enjoyed interacting with the different alien races, and communicating with these alien species was fun.
It’s clear that Hello Games is dedicated to ensuring No Man’s Sky is the best game it can be. By listening to community feedback, since launch they have released four patches with various tweaks and improvements. Overall, No Man’s Sky delivers an epic adventure that will have you exploring the far edges of the universe.
+ An enormous universe that is a joy to get list in
+ Exceptional explanations of every game mechanic
+ Upgrading your gear gives you a great sense of enjoyment
– Alien lifeforms could use a little more diversity
– Exploring and gathering can become repetitive
– Storyline is almost non-existent
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating 4.1/5 (82%)