Home Gaming “No Man’s Sky” A Non-Review

“No Man’s Sky” A Non-Review

written by Jason Marcano August 19, 2016

Firstly, I want to preface that this is not (technically) a review of No Man’s Sky. Through my numerous hours of play it has become more apparent that a true review would be nigh impossible. Not only is No Man’s Sky a beast of a game when it comes to the sheer amount of content provided, it is also a game in which only the individual playing will know whether or not it’s a game for them. That’s not to say that those reviewing the game are wrong in doing so. It’s good to have a quantifiable score, a consensus if you will, as to whether the game is fundamentally good or bad. If I was required to answer the good/bad query, I’d end up saying it is good, albeit with some hesitation.

I say with hesitation because the decision to purchase and play No Man’s Sky is something that cannot be answered for you by someone else. Sure, they can point out the shallow combat which is dissatisfying both in space and on the ground. They can discuss the frequent, and often distracting, texture pop-in when traveling at high speeds. They could even go into detail about the relative “sameness” of everyone’s journey to the center of the universe. Ultimately, what these reviews can’t do, is tell you whether or not you will enjoy No Man’s Sky.

What these reviews miss, and it’s something No Man’s Sky superbly nails, is the emotional impact a game like this has. The reviews cannot convey the sincerely personal experience that comes with playing No Man’s Sky.

I got No Man’s Sky promptly on launch day. A task that in itself was a journey. I had to go two towns over to find a Gamestop or store with it in stock because I hadn’t pre-ordered and it seemed all anyone had was enough to cover those who had the foresight to pre-order. Right away I could see that the hype was very real for this game. Everyone had to have it.

When that many people around the world are playing the same game the opinions of said game come back as mixed as we as a people are diverse. From the people that could separate their own pie-in-the-sky assumptions from what was actually promised or possible, to those that were dissatisfied with what was there and loudly proclaimed it, the opinions on No Man’s Sky ran the gamut.

Upon downloading the expansive day one patch I awoke on my starting planet, next to my starting ship. I was faced with a choice: Seek guidance from a being named Atlas, or just carry on carefree and discover the universe on my own and at my own pace. I chose to accept this help, but rarely now do I actually follow the on screen prompt guiding me ever closer to the universes’ center.

The planet I started on was a frozen wasteland. I named the planet Alphatori, as it was the first. Devoid of much life and little to do I diligently collected the resources the game was telling me I needed to repair my equipment. I spent hours wandering the barren tundra, desperately looking for something that would hook me. It never came on Alphatori. The most memorable thing to happen here was getting lost in a spelunking expedition gone awry. Two hours I spent in this elaborate, planet spanning cave system, trying to find my way out of its maze like caverns.

Finally, I made it out of the caves and was able to breath the fresh, sub-zero air again. Burdened with enough plutonium to bring even Atlas to his knees, I repaired my ship and left Alphatori for good. That was when the first breakthrough happened. That was when I realized I loved No Man’s Sky.

Breaking through the atmosphere and seeing the expansiveness of space was jaw dropping to say the least. If Sean Murray had been in the room I’d have given him a hug with tear filled eyes. It was beautiful; the stars stretched out before me, scattered around my ship asteroids were floating just above the desolate planet below me, the other planets in the system orbited their star, beckoning me to come closer.

I spent a good amount of time slowly drifting around trying to process what my mind was seeing. Attempting to understand the number “18 quintillion” and quickly realizing that is a figure no human brain can comprehend. Eventually I landed on my second planet. This was the second breakthrough.

The second planet—I named it Merdenoms because when I put in Mer de Noms the game told me I was using profanity—was teeming with both flora and fauna. Dropping onto its surface, seamlessly from space was a sight to behold. Flames engulfed my ship, their roar deafening. The screen shook, the instruments in my cockpit rattled as if they were about to break. Then all was quiet, save for the gentle hum of my idling engine. The serene planet spread out before me.

Landing on a new planet in No Man’s Sky is unlike anything any game before it has accomplished. My head swims with possibilities at what exotic new beast or plant life I will encounter. I am moved, on nearly every planet I’ve visited, by some vista or a herd of animals that seem natural and right where they belong. I look to the sky and see the moons and other planets in the system orbiting in the distance.

It’s all quite beautiful no matter if I am on a severely radiated planet, or one that is lush with no hazards. Every bit of this randomly generated game speaks to me as a player. For the time that I am playing No Man’s Sky I can truly say the rest of the world is off and I only hear it, the game. It is the ultimate form of escapism in gaming for me. Nothing ever gets frustrating to the point of annoyance, no objectives are being force fed to me, there is no timer or end of the world catastrophe to deter. It’s just me. My journey, my story.

That is why No Man’s Sky is, in my opinion an impossible game to properly review; It’s just so damn personal. Even after having spent 60+ hours with it I still can’t positively tell you that you need this game. But I will say you should try it and see. No one can tell you whether or not you will love or hate No Man’s Sky. They can’t tell you whether or not you’ll be able to overlook the shallow combat systems or simplistic crafting interface and find something special in the game. Only you can tell you that, and the only way you’ll know is if you play.

Are any of you geeks playing No Man’s Sky? Love it? Hate it? Have any weird discoveries to share? Post ’em in the comments, and stick with DHTG for more.

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