Published on August 28th, 2016 | by Andrew Bistak
No Man’s Sky PS4 Review
Summary: No Man's Sky is not only a marvel but also a disappointment in some respects. Nonetheless, it's a very ambitious and powerful title with quite a bit of grinding thrown into the mix.
Where do you start when you feel like you’re a drop in the ocean? That’s how I initially felt when I commenced playing the highly anticipated No Man’s Sky. The game is massive and I mean massive. According to the developers Hello Games, this game contains 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 possible planets to explore that is actually 18 quintillion and just to mess with you… after a billion comes a trillion, then a quadrillion and finally the quintillion. What’s the point you may ask? The answer is that No Man’s Sky is a game of space exploration, discovery and a mystery that lies at the centre of the galaxy as you fly through the cosmos seeking answers. It’s quite an ambitious game and succeeds on many levels but also fails on a few.
To give the gamer an even bigger challenge, there is no real tutorial. You commence your space survival on one of the 18 quintillion planets where you need to gather resources to repair your ship. Once you’ve repaired your ship, your ship’s drive engine is ready to be used in order for you to explore more planets and make your way to the centre of the galaxy which is you will find your answers. In order to reach the centre, you must visit a plethora of planets in order to collect resources, modify your ship, upgrade items, fight other aliens in both space and alien lifeforms on the planet. However this overarching mystery has a common theme and they are the Sentinels. These Sentinels are basically guardians or gatekeepers to the planets you visit and if you do the wrong thing, you will incur their wrath as these orb like mechanoids attempt to eliminate you. Furthermore, you’ll also encounter wars between different aliens so you can either avoid or attempt diplomacy with one or the other.
Given the scope of how massive No Man’s Sky is, it does bring a sense of loneliness with it. With such a vast and massive galaxy, you feel quite insignificant and even though you do cross paths with non-violent sentient aliens, there is almost a sense of melancholy due to the loneliness and isolation of space. Then there’s a level of spiritualism to the game with the Atlas which are basically a depository of information about the universe that supports your journey to the centre of the galaxy which also assists in cataloging new lifeforms and plants. That said, the game even helps you learn a new language in order to communicate with some of the entities that you meet.
Another cool aspect about the game is that if you’re the first person to discover a new system, planet, alien or plant life, you get naming rights and yes, there is now a planet and system called Impulse Gamer. You can make alliances and also enemies along the way with other intelligent lifeforms and there’s a variety of ways to reach the centre of the galaxy. The highlight of the game is finding new and strange worlds as you catalogue its denizens and of course, having naming rights.
However there is two glaring problems with the epic nature of No Man’s Sky which is the random planet and creature generator plus the repetitive nature of the title. After a while, things start looking the same and the creatures become bizarre at times, almost even hellish because of how strange they look. As the game randomly creates these places and aliens, it starts to feel a little too familiar as you discover new planets. However then the game throws a curve ball and you visit a planet that’s totally different so there is a love hate relationship with it. Then you have the repetitive nature of the title, discover new planet, hunt for resources, document planets and fight aliens and Sentinels which makes the game a grind. In order to progress, you need to find resources on the planet like carbon for your life suit or another substance to power your craft. You do come across space stations and other aliens to trade and upgrade but this does become repetitive.
Graphically, No Man’s Sky is a good looking game on the PlayStation with some stunning special effects and lighting. I love how each planet has its own weather system and day and night cycle. I remember visiting one barren planet with its purple shades and then all of a sudden, a huge dust storm commenced which made things quite difficult. If you do get lost, there is a hub to help find you way back to your ship or the location you are trying to find. The music changes with what’s happening in the game and is orchestrated by 65daysofstatic which really suits the title. Other sound effects include animal noises, the noises of your ship and other background effects that assist with the overall gameplay.
There’s been some criticism of No Man’s Sky on the net because of how ambitious the game is. I think that Sony did build up the game a little too much, considering it was created by a small gaming company. Hello Games should be commenced on such an amazing job they have done and exploring the universe, although lonely is still an amazing experience, especially when you find a new world that just blows your mind. At its core however, it is a grind and if there was true multiplayer available, it would make the game a much more interesting experience opposed to a lone survivor attempting to reach the centre of the galaxy. So No Man’s Sky is not only a marvel but also disappointment in certain elements but if you’re looking for a very surreal and almost meditative experience, this game definitely delivers on that front.
• Explore a universe of possibilities – With over 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 (18 quintillion) possible planets, No Man’s Sky’s procedurally generated galaxy gives players an unparalleled opportunity to explore worlds that no one has ever visited before. Exploration is entirely seamless, with no loading screens, whether you’re flying from space to a planet’s surface or even warping between solar systems.
• Forge your own path to the centre of the galaxy – Whether you consider yourself a trader, an explorer or a fighter, there’s no limit to how you play No Man’s Sky. You may slip between play-styles freely, from pirate to miner, bounty hunter to surveyor, but know that any action can have lasting consequences.
• Share your discoveries – Everyone starts No Man’s Sky on the outer rim of the same unexplored galaxy. As you progress, you will come across countless undiscovered solar systems, planets, lifeforms and much more. You can choose to share your discoveries with other players, naming them and adding them to the Galactic Map, forever associated with your PSN ID. You may also share the amazing sights you encounter using PlayStation 4’s share functions.
• Space combat on a grand scale – Make enemies and forge alliances by joining battles between the factions that occupy the galaxy. Take part in daring raids on trade convoys and audacious attacks on capital ships, claim bounties, and upgrade your weaponry. But be warned: helping one faction may make its enemies yours, too.
• Trade your way through the galaxy – Violence is not the only route to success. Discovering rare resources and trading them where they are most valuable will help you amass a fortune you can exchange for upgrades and ships that can carry ever more cargo. The rewards will be great, but you’ll run the risk of attracting the attention of ruthless space pirates.
• Prepare yourself for exploration – By upgrading your engines, you can travel further and faster, pushing at the frontiers of the known galaxy. Upgrading your suit will help protect you from radiation and extreme environments that would kill the unprepared. What will you find in these newly accessible zones?
• Discover a social galaxy – The galaxy is a living, breathing place, with trade convoys travelling between stars, pirates, police and military ships ever ready for action, and planets teeming with life. The same galaxy is also shared by every player of No Man’s Sky. Perhaps you will see the results of their actions, as well as your own?
Primary Format – Games – Playstation 4
Game Genre – Action & Adventure
Rating – PG
Game Developer – Hello Games
Game Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment