I was so excited to get No Man’s Sky that for the week before its official launch, I messaged and harassed every video game retailer in Kuwait asking if it was available. Finally it was and I paid far more than the standard rate for it, just to get it a day early (which reminds me Kuwait, what’s up? Only a day early!?). Was the expense, not to mention the 3 year wait since the announcement, worth it?
In a word…no. But yes. But mostly no. The disappointment is strong with this one. Before we get into that, here’s some background about the game. No Man’s Sky is a game where you explore space, with over 18 quintillion different planets to visit, each with its own life forms and dangers. The ultimate aim to complete the game is to find the center of the universe.
Picture the scene, if you will, in slow motion. The elevator opens, and I run out and toward the front door of my home. I expertly throw my phone at the doorbell, so that by the time I reach, my wife has opened it and I save valuable seconds from having to wait. At the same time, I’m removing the plastic wrapper from the game and opening the case. As I reach closer to home, the door opens and I jump, Matrix style, through the doorway, while removing the disc from the box. I follow through (in the same gravity defying jump mind you) the entrance to the front room, Frisbee the disc into the PlayStation while grabbing the controller from the coffee table with one hand and the TV remote with the other. I hit the power button on both remote and controller, land with a commando roll and seamlessly bounce onto the sofa, controller gripped and approximately 0 seconds wasted. All in a day’s work.
Let’s pretend that it went down that way, just for the sake of excitement and action, ironically two of the things this game is missing. Upon starting your adventure, you see a few seconds of space whizzing by on screen and then the game loads and you’re left to your own devices to figure out what to do next. As it turns out, I discovered by pressing buttons and walking around aimlessly that I needed to fix my spacecraft. By mining for materials and looting boxes, I was able to fix the craft after an hour, and then take off to explore the galaxy. There was very little, almost nonexistent tutorial or instruction, only a mission objective on the bottom of the screen. I had no idea what the various health meters were, or where to find the elements I needed…you just have to figure it out yourself, which in retrospect I think suits the game (a lonely, exploration adventure) quite well. Still, doesn’t make it any less annoying!
Once I had passed that hurdle, the next ten hours were extremely fun. Flying from planet to planet, warping to different galaxies and star systems, exploring brand new, undiscovered worlds (when you discover a new planet, plant or animal, you can actually rename it which will then be reflected for everybody playing the game, and nobody else can rename it after you) and meeting aliens from the four races and learning their languages. I even thought to myself occasionally, despite the game freezing a few times, ‘’this is a masterpiece’’. But then it started to wear thin. I was essentially grinding and mining for materials to power my ship, so I could look for and install additional inventory spaces, so that I could do MORE mining and grinding in order to gain MORE inventory spaces, so that I could then do yet more mining and grinding to…you get the picture. The game gets repetitive quickly, since this is really all you can do. There are other issues, such as the inventory management system being overly complicated and awkward (having to reload a gun in the inventory screen mid battle, which DOESN’T pause the game so you keep taking damage the entire time being a huge problem), the speed of which your character moves (spoiler: too slow) and the AI being at the most basic level, making optional combat easy to run away from (just as well with that reloading nonsense) being just a few of my personal gripes.
On top of all that though lays a beautiful (seriously, you will take so many screenshots), ambitious and groundbreaking game, ideal for someone that has a lot of time to play, likes to explore, play alone, mine for materials/construct items from them, upgrade equipment and is extremely patient.
Out now on PS4 and PC, and a rumored Xbox One release shortly (you heard it here first!). I’m glad to have been an early adopter of the game, and I hope that future updates and DLC bring more fun and variation to No Man’s Sky. But for me, my copy ran out of fuel and I just don’t have the interest to mine for more right now.