Monolith

Console: PlayStation 4

Pros

* The absolute size and scale of this game is simply unprecedented

* Amazingly focused on discovery in all aspects

* Crazy addicting

Cons

* Not for everyone (A slow paced game that doesn’t hand everything to you on a platter)

* Some players may have issues getting started

* Time will tell on how engaging this title remains after a few months

—————-

Have you ever looked up at the stars and wondered what is out there?  Have you ever looked at the moon and wondered what it would be like to walk the surface?  Have you ever just looked into space and let your mind drift on what possibilities are out there?  If so I have no doubt that No Man’s Sky will appeal to you at least on some level.

Sean Murray penned a letter to reviews that I would like to start off by sharing.  Here is the entire text:

“I feel sick writing this.

You are about to play ‘No Man’s Sky’ and I don’t know what you’ll think.

I know I’m proud of it. I’m incredibly proud of the tiny team that is making a game at a scale that’s never been done before. At time I can squint my eyes and see that we’re generating entire planets, solar systems, galaxies on a PS4, and see that maybe that could be a part of how games are made in the future.

At time I can let myself feel proud that our indie game is going to be in shops. That we have a media kit! That you are even taking the time to play our game, when our previous titles might not have.

I know I’ve watched playtesters get totally consumed in our universe…but I’ve also seen people feel lost. I’ve seen kids weaned on ‘Minecraft’ lose themselves, and I’ve seen some others feel lost. I don’t know how you’ll feel. I don’t know if we can ever live up to the hype we’ve generated, sometimes knowingly, often not.

I know my strongest memory growing up in the outback of Australia, seeing the stars at night, and feeling overwhelmed. Reading sci-fi and wishing I could escape into those worlds. If for one small moment I can make some people feel that they have stepped through a science fiction book cover, or to think briefly about the size of our universe…then I’ll be happy with that.

Thank you so much for taking the time to play. I appreciate it. Hope you enjoy.

-Sean”

I choose to share this because to me this letter sums up everything that’s right about this game.  No Man’s Sky is without a doubt a labor of love that sets out to do one thing… open your imagination.  I complain from time to time about the current state of gamers and the feeling of self entitlement or preconceived expectations that each title should offer or fulfill.  I have heard so many people complain about the cost of this title and how it should have only costed $20 or $30 because it’s an “Indie Game” which I think is an absolute ridiculous statement.  If you only looked at SNES games during the release period, they would have costed you $50 – $60 and with inflation more towards $80.  The fact that in today’s standard we are able to pay $60 for games that are this complex and have been worked on for years is something not to take for granted.

What does this rant have to do with No Man’s Sky?

Everything!  It’s time that we open our minds and drop what we expect from today’s games.  I’m so sick of the cookie cutter industry that is so focused on getting a particular amount of content, this many hours of gameplay, or how many tutorials and hand holding sessions you should have during your experience.  This title truly breaks new ground in so many ways and I can’t be more thankful for it.

It’s important for me to say however that I’m not just ranting, but merely prepping you for your experience.  This isn’t a game that hands everything to you.  This is a game about discovering a universe and it’s secrets.  This includes how to make items, where to find items, and what some particular items actually do.  If this isn’t ok with you, maybe you should be looking elsewhere.

Presentation: A+

Creatures

You can watch as many videos as you want about this game, but the truth is it needs to be experience first hand to truly appreciate its scale and style.  From the first moment I loaded up the game I was hooked.  Sure it took a bit to get the hang of things and to discover what I actually needed to do, but honestly I feel that this is part of the appeal.  The audience that this game is created for will love these types of experiences and I feel will truly appreciate every aspect of the gameplay.

The aesthetic of the game is often described as though you stepped inside of a retro science fiction painting.  I can totally see this influence as worlds are littered with amazing colors and outlandish landscaping that brings something to screen that is often times breathtaking.  You never really know what is on the other side of that ridge, or under the ocean surface, or even what is on the moon that is barely visible along the horizon.

The greatest achievement of No Man’s Sky is that you can go to ALL of these places.  If you can see it, you can go there.  This isn’t just a gimmick, the game completely commits to this idea and brings a universe size universe to your screen.  I have heard this and I have heard about the amount of planets included, but I guess it just didn’t clock for me completely until I started to see things for myself.  I was on a planet’s surface for hours collecting resources and repairing my ship.  Standard things you would do I suppose when you are building up for off world travel.  The surface area I covered was probably about the size of Grand Theft Auto 5 to put things into perspective.  After getting situated I took off and started ascending towards the atmosphere while stopping occasionally to monitor my progress.  I watched as what I thought was a huge area slowly shrink to the size of a few pixels on the planet’s surface.  I don’t mean that I was just so far away from the planet that it looked that size, I mean I was in orbit of this planet and seeing only a portion of the surface take up my entire screen as I struggled to pinpoint exactly where it was that I had explored.

BlueSpace

Did I mention space battles?

Looking further into space I could see more planets of this scale throughout my starting galaxy.  Things got even more intense when my HUD stated that if I were to just use normal propulsion to navigate to the next nearest planet it would take me up to four hours to complete the journey.  Not only does this make using extra propulsion necessary, but also manages to reinforce the scale of this universe.  From there I was pushed towards navigating to my galaxy map which was the absolute final touch.  I witnessed the galaxy being reduced to a tiny star sized object and watched as my screen was littered with millions of others just like it.  Again… something to witness first hand.

If that isn’t a detailed enough description just note there are 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets and even if one was discovered every second it would take 585 billion years to discover them all.

Another great aspect is the soundtrack, not only are we treated with an outstanding collection of music from 65daysofstatic, but the ambient sound effects are awesome.  The standard things like beeps and boops or the sounds that occur when using your ship isn’t really much to write home about, but the game truly shines in this regard when exploring uncharted planets.  Exploring a cave for the first time and gathering resources while keeping an eye on all of your gauges is one thing, but having distance growls and snarls echoing throughout the passage ways is another.

The user interface I thought was laid out well enough and the only thing that took some getting used to was the requirement of holding down button presses instead of just giving each button a single press.  Not that this is a big deal and I didn’t really mind it after a while as it can prevent mistakes from time to time.

As far as first impressions go, No Man’s Sky really shines and is very impressive on the surface.

Single Player: A+

The gameplay consists of gathering resources to maintain both your life supports systems and ship as you navigate from planet to planet.  Every planet is different in their own way and while some will be freezing, others may have poisonous gas filling the air.  Everyone’s starting planet will be completely different so there is really no telling what kind of obstacles you will be faced with at the start.  You gather resources by using both your mining laser (which can also be modified to function as a weapon) and your ship’s mining beam.  Almost everything on these planets can be destroyed for resources and every resource can be used for multiple things.  This aspect isn’t too much different from anything else we have seen from other survival games.

Aside from the environments there are two other major obstacles.  The wildlife which is just as varied as the planets feature both different appetites and temperaments and on occasion have no issue with attacking visitors.  Others can be fed and interacted with on a more peaceful basis.  The other obstacle that you will encounter are the sentinels which “police” the galaxy for the most part.  Specific planets have different scales of enforcement and in some cases if you begin harming animals or gathering too many resources they can become quite agitated and start attacking you.

Creature

Exploring planets and this universe is what No Man’s Sky is all about, but there is also small bits of a story here and there to experience.  I am after keeping this review as mostly spoiler free so I won’t be going too much into that but I will say that you will interact with and trade with other species and set out to learn more information about the universe by visiting ancient artifacts.  Not to mention you will get the chance to learn a new language word by word.

Multiplayer: ?

I don’t have much to say about quite yet.  Supposedly two people should be able to see each other if by the astronomical chance they occupy the same planet.  I can tell you that one test of this failed, but Sean Murray insists that it’s possible.  Who knows if this will ever happen or not.

One thing is for certain anything that can be discovered can be named and logged into the cloud.  With a universe this size you are guaranteed to be the first to discover new species, planets, and even galaxies.  Either accepting the randomly generated name or typing your own will be rewarded with credits as well opening up the possibility of making a career out of being an explorer.  Once anything is discovered and uploaded it will be there for anyone else to see in the future.  (assuming anyone will ever make it there)

Replay Value: A+

It’s truly hard to say how long this game will stay entertaining.  We as the gaming community will never even scratch the surface of its content, so technically you could spend a lifetime exploring and finding new discoveries.  The real question is how long will this type of game keep you entertained?  That has yet to be seen, but I do know that I am having a ton of fun and No Man’s Sky has etched a permanent place in my gaming library.  I do hope that other franchises and games will use something like this tech in the future for their own games in an effort to keep expanding and providing us with content as impressive as this one.

No Man’s Sky has finally launched and could have possibly had more hype generated than any other game I have ever seen.  This is something that most certainly sets the stage for harsh criticism and disappointment.  But let’s set all of that aside and forget what others say games should be.  If the things I discussed sounds appealing or you answered yes to the initial questions I asked in this review, give this game a shot.

It’s a truly remarkable experience that will bring a ton of excitement and entertainment for quite a long while.

Overall: A+

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