Like many others out there I have been eagerly awaiting the release of No Man’s Sky, a sci-fi survival game where players explore a procedurally generated, open universe. The game’s main themes are exploration, survival, combat and trading.
Since the game’s release on PC, I have played the game for about 14 hours (as of writing this review,) not as long as some people, but enough to develop an opinion for the game.
The biggest factor for me is having sufficient guidance when playing a game for the first time. As a person that likes figuring out games at my own pace, I don’t mean that the game needs to hold my hand and tell me how to do everything, but I do like to have some sort of tutorial and on-screen hint about what to do when starting out. I think my biggest pet peeve with No Man’s Sky has been the feeling of being dumped into this universe without enough direction, or even why I’m doing these things.
I feel the game lacks some basic on-screen tips that are probably needed. I had no idea what all the elements in the world meant to me. I had a difficult time figuring out how to fly my ship. A brief explanation of these things would have been helpful when starting out the game, but I did manage to figure it out on my own.
My first “home” planet was a rather cold, icy and now that I am thinking about it, not very memorable. The planets after that were similar, a few fairly nice ones with trees and a lot of water, but otherwise mostly forgettable. It wasn’t until I stumbled onto a planet with a dangerous weather condition, blizzards, that I was pushed out of my comfort zone.
Aside from occasional aggressive creatures, most planets have felt fairly safe, that is until I encountered the Blizzard planet. Following this planet was the Fire Planet as I liked to call it because firestorms would make frequent appearances.
Those planets were not the worst. Oh no.
The last planet that I landed on warned me that the sentinel-inhabitants were in extreme security mode. They weren’t joking. I couldn’t stand outside for 2 minutes without bullets raining down on me from sentinels that always seemed to be lurking just over a hill. Nothing made me as stressed-out like this planet did, and it’s planets such as these that are memorable to me.
Something I’ve found mildly disappointing after visiting a few planets is that the creatures inhabiting the world don’t seem….alive. They just wander around, running away from you or attacking you if they are aggressive.
The game would feel much more immersive if the creatures did more. I was hoping to see creatures interacting more with each other and the environment. Predators chasing and attacking prey, animals sleeping or playing. Sadly the creatures feel very static and predictable.
Even the intelligent aliens that you meet at space stations have the same pattern: they sit in their little shelter and greet you when you enter. Then there’s a similarly predictable exchange in which you either solve a puzzle or fork over an item in order to receive something in return.
The space travel in this game is fun and not as tedious and boring as was my first impression. At first I was a little put-off because it seemed to take too long to leave a planet or land, but once I understood the mechanics behind flying and the controls, I realized that it wasn’t as tedious as I first thought.
Final thoughts for now:
Overall I am really enjoying the experience of playing No Man’s Sky but I don’t know if I see this game as one I can continually play for long periods of time. Already I find myself playing less than I have been. That’s not to say that I am no longer enjoying the game or I will stop playing any time soon. There are still new things I am discovering, albeit not very often.
I will continue playing because I want to get to the center of the universe and see what is there. And I don’t doubt there are things that will still surprise me.
I’ve been doing a let’s play series of my adventures in No Man’s Sky. If you are interested in watching, here is my most recently video in the series.