This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 38 October 2016.
No Man’s Sky is a massive game. It’s also a game that doesn’t make things easy at the start, as you find yourself – a faceless explorer – on an unknown planet with a ship that doesn’t have the ability to break orbit. While the game ushers you to mine the planet for the natural elements that make the entire universe tick, you will undoubtedly feel like a fish out of water at the start.
Once you’ve managed to escape from planet 1 (or insert random planet name here…), it dawns on you the mammoth task you face: 18 trillion planets and the mining of said planets until you manage to make it to the centre of the galaxy. Or you can just go off on a random exploration of the entire universe.
By your discovery of planet 2, you will start to get to grips with the mechanisms at work and begin to understand that the frankly poor inventory system is key to managing resources to keep your adventure going. Frustratingly, by planet 3 you may start to realise that No Man’s Sky has pretty much revealed all the tricks it has up its sleeve.
While the world is vast and the planets are at times strikingly beautiful, and others ominous wastelands, once you’ve scanned the planet’s wildlife, mined its resources, warped to another system and traded your items for currency only to upgrade your warp drive to head to another system and do it all again, it becomes apparent that the game may keep on giving, but you’re generally always receiving the same thing.
To be fair, there are a few missions (this is a very broad use of the term) available but generally these (which are at times revealed by scans) are not much more than a named version of other ‘discovery’ elements. These discoveries include monument stones which help develop your alien language skills, outposts which are sometimes strangely already inhabited by at least one lone alien, transmissions and more.
Things can get interesting when a planetary storm kicks in and you wish you had discovered the shelter revealed by your scan ten minutes earlier. This is amplified when you have poorly managed your resources and you can’t refill your life support. If you came along hoping for conflicts with alien species, you will be disappointed and you will not actively be attacked, unless you upset the protective robotic sentinels of a planet who react to over mining and killing of fauna.
If I’m sounding a little negative about the game, it is only because I expected and wanted so much more. The game promised the world (and beyond) but it actually feels a little like it just couldn’t achieve lift off. Maybe the sequel or updates will eventually give players the game it should’ve been. However, as it stands, if you buy No Man’s Sky be prepared for a rinse and repeat cycle that can conceivably last a lifetime. Whether that is enough is debatable.
Available for: PlayStation 4 and PC
Distributed by: Ster Kinekor and available at all retailers of games