Review – No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky is an interesting idea, a procedurally-generated universe with billions of planets to potentially explore, but it’s a premise that falls flat on the gameplay side of the equation.
Armed with a mining tool you start out on a random planet and a few starter missions, namely to repair your spaceship so it can blast off. This gives you a quick introduction to the concepts of mining and crafting, the two most important elements of the gameplay systems. As you wander around blasting everything not nailed down to convert them into the single elements the game breaks down objects into, you will come across creatures and locations that you can name.
The creatures, like the worlds have been procedurally generated so there are some fairly ‘out there’ combinations. A giant ape-like creature with tiny wings that could somehow still fly, but only a few feet off the ground, was a personal favourite.
In theory, procedural generation should allow for a nearly infinite assortment of terrain to explore and creatures to catalog, but it doesn’t take long for it to all start to feel very repetitive. Worlds have individual biomes, for example, so a desert world is nothing but desert – and walking across miles of the same terrain really cuts into the desire to explore and find something new. You can fly your ship close to the surface to cover ground quickly but this doesn’t allow you to find new things while on the move, you need to land and walk around to actually explore.
The game also hits you over the head repeatedly with the need to find and manage resources. Just walking around means your environmental suit will constantly need to be recharged, accomplished using elements you have found and mined. Your mining laser will also need to be recharged, as will your ship’s thrusters, etc…
You can’t keep a supply of every element, as your pack space is limited. You can teleport elements to the ship’s storage, but that’s also a finite resource. This resource management shuffle becomes critical when you start crafting higher-end items, which generally require you to first craft lower-end items to combine into mid-grade ones that then become the finished product. And those low-end items? Those will often require elements you don’t have and aren’t available on the planet you’re on.
There’s no multiplayer to speak of, and though lead developer Sean Murray continually said during his press tours promoting the game that you’d be able – though unlikely – to meet other players, that appears to have been untrue. Players have already found their way to the same spot as others, only to find they can’t see each other or interact with the environment in a way that is reflected in the other player’s game.
2.5/5 – No Man’s Sky has been compared to Minecraft, but as it sits that’s not a very apt comparison. The game is a mile wide and an inch deep. It’s a sandbox without the bucket and shovel. They have big plans for future updates, so perhaps it’ll be a game to check out at that point.