Boldly going nowhere – No Mans Sky review (pre-update)

No Mans Sky
Platform on which it was played: Playstation 4
Score: 6/10 – No Man’s Sky offers all of the aesthetics but delivers on none of the long-awaited promise. Initially outstanding, it gradually progresses into just another Minecraft-esque adventure quest with about as much positive content as a Donald Trump human rights policy.
Price Paid: £59.99 at release

Supposedly 18 quintillion planets make up this procedurally-generated cosmic adventure, even if you managed to discover a new planet every hour from the moment you are born into this world until you leave this world, it would still take 718,319 other people doing the same thing – basically, it’s huge.

A feat so large in scale would be an issue for the hundreds of people available on staff at AAA developer studios but somehow, a dozen developers from Guildford, who go by the name of Hello Games, managed to pull this off in only a few short years.

Pulling inspiration from Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov tales, No Man’s Sky drops you into the artificially powered gravity boots of an unnamed explorer as you are stranded on a planet with – apparently – no escape.

During the game’s initial ten minute introduction, a floating droid asks you to look for parts to fix your partially destroyed  ship in order to take flight and escape from the planet you are stranded on. That’s it, in the way of set narrative, that is all you get. The few narratives that exist can be discovered in a Dark Souls-esque way by speaking with NPC’s or discovering artefacts. But, as far as MANDATORY narrative goes, that’s all you have, initially.

No Man’s Sky is a game, first and foremost, about exploration. It offers you the chance to ‘do anything’ and ‘go anywhere.’

The general premise is; mine resources in order to make fuel, use the resources to build warp cores then use those to warp to the nearest star which you search for a resourceful planet and rinse then repeat. The random nature of the whole affair keeps boredom at bay, never being sure what you will encounter as you crash your way through a cloudy barrier to smoothly touchdown with no sight of a loading screen.

A certain amount of texture popping does occur from time-to-time and this can often stop you being fully immersed in the experience, but what do you expect from a game which is only 5GB in size and develops the worlds, characters and creatures you encounter at a moments notice using the wonderful procedural generation algorithm which Hello Games is so fiercely proud of?

No Man's Sky
Weather climates, fungus, the length and area of grass – calculations decide all of this as you play.

The atmospheres and surrounding of each world is sight to behold, towering glass-like structures as far as the eye can see, entire planets covered in water with no signs of life and a planet – honestly – covered entirely in fire, these are just some of the creations which you may encounter as you play.

On top of the random nature of the surrounding play-environment, the visual presentation is astounding. Each environment is colourful, vibrant and eccentrically detailed – if you land atop a cliff or mountain high enough, you can observe the curvature of the planet within your own view.

If lucky enough to find a just-right planet – Goldilocks if you will – you will get to experience the procedural generation take effect upon the local flora and fauna with creature combinations which would give Salvador Dali a heart-attack. These may manifest as , squishy bouncing monsters with spikes where there eyes ought to be, dog like creatures with snaking tails and large monolithic dinosaur creatures with the face of a fish – anything truly IS possible.


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