With all the concept art, the preview videos, the interviews, the teasers and that whole buzz surrounding No Man’s Sky, I was already prepared to be disappointed. I had my doubts about what they were promising to deliver. Call me a skeptic or even a negative nancy, but I always have my doubts when a game comes seemingly out of nowhere and promises land and (No Man’s) sky. Even when AAA dev’s pull that stunt I still have my doubts. So, did the game live up to my less than stellar expectations?
Very Very Chill
For a game that is about exploring, crafting and being “very very chill” (the developer’s own words), I found myself cursing a lot and getting frustrated in No Man’s Sky. The inventory space is unnecessarily restrictive, to a point where I simply didn’t gather any resources apart from the ones that I really knew I needed. Again, for a game based on exploring and crafting, NOT picking up resources is kind of a major caveat. I could understand having a restricted inventory in your exo-suit, meaning you could only carry a certain amount of items on your person, but bank space in your ship should be almost unlimited. Especially when it comes to crafting items and resources, why restrict what I can have? Especially when you have NO idea of what is useful or not at the beginning. I found a planet full of gold early on in the game and was convinced at first it was useful. Ended up selling all of it after a couple hours because I found zero crafting recipes for it (I’m sure there are recipes).
To top it all off, when you craft upgrades for your suit, ship or mining tool, they actually take up inventory space! Permanently! Whoever came up with that idea needs a swift quick in the babymaker. Fortunately, blueprints don’t take inventory space.
There Is No “Endgame”
Saying that No Man’s Sky is an empty experience is barely scratching the surface. Don’t get me wrong, the first 2 hours of gameplay was actually quite fun. Getting to the universe map and exploring it for the first time is pretty mind blowing. The possibilities seem almost endless really, considering the astronomical amount of planets out there. But very quickly, I realized that it was an astronomical amount of not much. The experience remains the same from system to system. Get to a planet, explore, gather resources, leave said system and go to another one. But the worst part about it is getting to the “end” of the game.
Eventually, after hours of foraging, frustrating menus and pointless planets, you’ll find yourself with enough resources and materials to get to the centre of the galaxy, the proverbial “end” of the game. I say proverbial, because no one really knows if it’s the “end” of the game since, well, nothing happens. Literally, nothing happens. Stars go flying, you pass nebulas and planets, epic “rock” music starts and then the screen goes dark. That’s it, you’re done.
The whole experience is very underwhelming, enough so that I found myself asking if I had would’ve gotten the good ending if I had gone on the right (or different) path. Well, after some scouring around the interwebs turns out it’s the only ending. Everyone gets the same, bland dark screen.
Then there’s the “technical” issues and bugs I was getting in No Man’s Sky. My first couple hours of play on PS4 were interesting, to say the least. At the end of my first playthrough (and after a few crashes), I found myself incredibly dizzy, and felt a general feeling of unease. Wondering what it might be, I went online to check if anyone else had the same issues as me. Turns out I wasn’t the only one. The combination of the extremely narrow field of view on console (I’m talking EXTREMELY narrow), the strange color mixes some planets have (red, green and orange), mixed in with the stuttering of the game when moving around on foot or when flying, makes a lot of people feel dizzy and almost unable to play the game.
I was getting so dizzy that to remediate the problem and finish the review, I actually had to buy NMS on PC, where the field of view is adjustable and where I could have the smoothness of mouse movement. But then came the PC problems. I have a pretty decent computer, nothing NASA like, but very decent. Unfortunately, I was still getting a lot of crashes, hiccups, and major bugs.
All things considered, NMS is still an amazing piece of technological work. The seamless transitions between planets is very impressive and the massive scale of the universe is really spectacular, but in the end, it all seems very “concept-y”. On paper it’s brilliant: the concept behind it and the technology that went into building the indie title is very impressive and important to the gaming world in general. But, like many indie game studios, Hello Games seemed to have bitten off more that they can chew.
Don’t let the 70 beaver dollars price tag fool you, No Man’s Sky IS an indie game by an indie studio. For the price of a full game, is it wrong for me to expect a full game? In that sense, Hello Games failed to deliver a product that wants me to go back and play it over and over again. As my title states; quality, over quantity.
DISCLAIMER: No Man’s Sky PlayStation 4 review copy provided by SCE. The opinions expressed in the article above have not be affected by, dictated or edited in any way by SCE. For more information please see Girls on Games’ Code of Journalistic Ethics.