No Man’s Sky: PC Review

No Man’s Sky has been on a lot of people’s radar for some time now, mine included. A lot of people aren’t very happy with the fact that a lot was left out of the game, based on what developers had said it would include. Here’s my review of what WAS included.

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I feel like before I can even begin to write a proper review of this game, I have to get one thing out of the way. I knew what this game was going to be. I knew it was going to be a bit of a letdown, and therefore I never bought a ticket to the hype train. I like comfy exploration games, but I also know that procedurally generated games are often lacking, simply because computers are not very good at randomly creating endearing environments and atmospheres.

 

And yet, I’d see gameplay videos and still think to myself it might be worth a purchase. Zipping around a galaxy and just finding new creatures for a couple hours every now and then seemed fun. And for me, that is what this game will be. A game to turn on once or twice a week, or when I’m bored of other games, and to kill a little time.

 

But rather than try to label this as a GOOD or a BAD game, I just want to break down some of the good and some of the bad individually, and let you make your own decisions.

 

The Exploration

 

This was the main selling point of the game. The ability to take off in your starship and explore trillions and gorillions of uncharted planets. Each one new and diverse with the help of procedural generation. You might find a planet with green grass and purple trees, that has some dinosaur like creatures. The planet might be a barren desert with sandworms. It could be just about anything. And you could search caves, lakes, rivers, mountains, searching for different landmarks and creatures to add to your Pokedex. To me, that sounded pretty fun.

One of the funny creatures I found. Like a fat deer with shorts on.

One of the funny creatures I found. Like a fat deer with shorts on.

At the heart of the game, it IS fun. I do like going to a new system, seeing the planets from afar, and trying to decide which one looks the most exciting. Unfortunately it seems to me like 95% of the planets I visit are just solid rock that is tinted green, red, or brown. The creatures typically look like varying sizes of deer with weird faces, no matter what planet I’m on. Nearly every planet is rife with toxic gas, radiation, or extreme heat/cold. That being said, I have found a couple that aren’t harsh, and actually look pretty nice. I usually stay on those for a while.

 

You can find different outposts on planets, which is something I want to point out that I do NOT like. Every planet I’ve been to, without fail, is littered with small outposts. Trading outposts, shelters, observatories, etc. Every planet and moon. How has every single planet already been discovered and colonized to a very small extent, but there are no large cities at all? I would have preferred the spawning of buildings to have been a lot more sparse, to really give a feeling of excitement when you find one. Instead, you can literally see 4 or 5 buildings just standing on a high hill on most planets. Similarly, there is a space station in each and every system you warp to. Massive space stations the size of a city. They conveniently contain two or three rooms, and one, maaayyybbe two NPCs.

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The nice part about exploring is that if you find a shitty planet, you don’t have to land, just hit the afterburners and head to another. You might have to land to farm up some materials, but that’s not an issue most of the time.

 

Gameplay

 

The core gameplay is very simple. There are different elements on every planet that you need to power various things such as life support, launch thrusters, your weapons, your pulse engine, and your warp drive. You have a laser tool that you shoot at rocks with and they break open turning into materials in your inventory. That’s really about it. Fly around to different planets, shoot rocks for more materials to fly to other planets so you can shoot more rocks. The game is more about the experience and the visuals. There are some NPCs you can speak to here and there that will speak in cryptic messages to you, and hopefully you’ve learned enough of the alien language to decipher it so you can receive some random items.

 

Visuals

 

I played on PC, which I hold to a much higher standard graphically than consoles. That being said, the graphics in this were something I would expect from 2012 or 2013. The resolution was absolutely horrendous on a lot of items. And there was a very, very noticeable FPS lag from time to time. My computer is no beast (760 GTX 4GB) but it should have no problem on something like this.

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That being said, there are some very beautiful moments in the game, that are mostly best saved for a screenshot. And sadly, half of these involve taking pictures with the beautiful skybox sun in the background. The planets I visited were mostly too barren to impress me visually.

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Sounds

 

The sounds were subpar at best. Basic beeps and boops from your space suit. Random squishes and squelches from plantlife and creatures. Nothing spectacular. I want to be scared shitless by a mighty roar from a small creature or something. But instead they all sound like dying deer.

 

Your spacesuit constantly beeps when your life support is below 75% and the game says “LIFE SUPPORT LOW” and flashes red on your screen. It’s like playing Zelda with less than 1 heart. That life support can last twenty minutes on a single recharge. So why the fuck is it beeping for 15 of those minutes saying “LOW”? Maybe it’s a bug but it’s a damn annoying one.

 

The space travel sounds are very good and actually give you the feeling like you are really moving through open space.

 

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Honorable Mentions

 

This is just going to be a lightning round of things I didn’t like.

  • Lack of alien NPCs on space stations the size of a moon.
  • Lack of actual varying lifeforms on planets. Maybe 1/25 planets has an interesting creature.
  • The universe has space stations and outposts all over every planet, but only 2 fucking species of aliens? 3 if you count the robot people that you never see. Billions and gillions of planets and 2 types of aliens. Yawn.
  • Nothing special spawning in caves. I get it would be hard to do with procgen, but that isn’t my job. It’s the devs.
  • A horribly unintuitive inventory system. The game never explains bonuses from crafting upgrades next to each other.
  • Landscapes needed to be able to spawn much more chaotically. I’m talking huge mountains, low chasms, etc. Right now you got hills and valleys.
  • The “plot” was pretty lame and felt tacked on just to say there was one. It was literally just “follow this line in a different direction and have a giant black blob tell you more cryptic riddles”.

 

 

 

Overall? 6/10. Maybe 5.5/10.

Buy it if it’s less than 30$.