Don't like reading? Watch the video review
Released in 2016 and developed and published by Hello Games based out of Guildford, England and distributed by Sony for the PlayStation 4 and iam8bit for the PC release...
No Man's Sky is a procedural generated, exploration, survival game, you start the game in a loading screen showcasing the vast galaxy the game contains.
Sure enough the game starts and you wake up on a random generated planet of the game's choosing to what seemingly appears to be the crash site of your ship, you then begin making the necessary repairs to it by gathering the required resources and then begin your journey in exploring the vast reaches of space in the hopes of eventually finding your way to the center of the galaxy. Though once you're in space, you basically survive the vastness of it by maintaining your suit's life support systems, your ship's fuel, and of course gathering rare resources and items to make easy money, which is referred to as “units” in this galaxy.
Oh and of course, making first contact with intelligent life. Once you begin exploring the galaxy, you'll slowly begin to build your reputation with alien species, learn their languages and gain the ability to trade with them, so you can earn better multi-tool devices, upgrades, and even purchase better ships.
As you explore different systems and planets, you can also then re-name them to whatever you like as long as it's not too raunchy for the profanity filter to pick up, as well as name whatever else you begin to discover and scan on the surface of planets you visit.
This is then also shared online with everyone playing the game as well, whom if you're lucky may possibly stumble on a system you've already visited and named.
However the chances of this are extremely small, even more so for actually meeting another human player... Well--- NIL actually, but we'll get into that later... As for the story of No Man's Sky, it's somewhat obscure or hidden if you will, there are plenty of random bits of information and lore spread out through the systems and planets you explore, however IT IS there, you just have to search for it and without spoiling anything, if you search hard enough, it's somewhat interesting.
But is any of this... Any good?
Let's find out with....
The first moments of breaking through the atmosphere of your starting planet and entering space and just witnessing the scale of what's around you, is simply put...
The first few hours of this game once you begin exploring space and warping to new systems and checking out new planets were some of the most genuinely exciting moments in the game for me. Wrapping my head around the mechanics of all the different items and resources I came across, I felt like I was only scratching the surface of what was to come.... But we'll get into that later. Easily the best thing about this game is the vastness of it's universe and the ability to explore all of it, this being procedural generation every now and then you'll come upon a planet that is just packed with life and tons of cool things to see. As well as the odd dud of a planet with nothing really much on it, but even then you're bound to find plenty of resources even on barren wasteland-tier planets, but the game still threw plenty of surprises my way in terms of planet generation.
Then throw in a colorful sci-fi themed art style and presentation taking plenty of cues from iconic sci-fi of years past and you've got a gorgeous game at that, at least in terms of art style and presentation.
As for the gameplay and mechanics themselves, easily the best mechanic I found was learning the alien languages and deciphering them, each time you learn a new word, the more and more you speak with different aliens, the more and more you'll begin to understand what they're saying as the words you've learned are high lighted in red during conversations.
This also applies to the different monoliths and ancient ruins you'll find scattered around different planets, which brings up my next favorite thing, the hidden lore and history of these alien factions, as well as the random traveler logs you'll discover scattered around different planets. As for the soundtrack side of things, it's probably one of the other best aspects of the game itself, from the moment you enter space for the first time and hear the haunting soundtrack, it fits the mood perfectly, to just generally flying around space or exploring a world, the background music really sets the mood beautifully.
But now let's discuss what kills the mood... With the bad....
Before I begin listing the many issues I have with No Man's Sky, for some perspective I went into No Man's Sky with little to no expectations for this game, for the most part I went into this game completely blind, as I imagine a lot of people have considering what little was truly known about this game. With that being said, the first good 10 or so hours for me, was pretty solid. I really enjoyed the game for the most part and felt like I was only scratching the surface of what this game had to offer, but after exploring a number of systems and different planets, I quickly began to realize I was actually scraping the bottom of the barrel... Despite the massive scale of the galaxy that No Man's Sky offers, sadly the content it offers is very shallow, the game feels like a skeleton of what could have been a more complete experience. For example, the game is a survival game that throws survival elements your way, like gathering resources to fuel your ship, maintaining your life support systems, and has hostile life, extreme weather planets, space pirates who randomly attack you in space.
Yet when you die, the game doesn't punish you almost in any way, you can simply just go back to where you died and pick up your stuff without any consequence.
The game will throw zero challenge your way, maintaining your life support system and fuel for your ship is pathetically simple and mundane. Surviving extreme weather planets, whether they're hot, cold, toxic, radioactive, whatever, is all the same exact formula, you simply have to watch a bar in the left corner of your screen from reaching 0 to avoid damage to your health, or simply go inside your ship, a settlement, or cave for a few seconds and it immediately re-fills. You can also equip shield upgrades that prevent this from happening as long as you maintain their energy or fuel if you will.
As for the space pirates, they're a threat when you first start the game and have no upgrades to your ship, but throw in an extra shield upgrade and increase the weapon power of your ship, and you'll be taking on a dozen space pirates no problem.
You've also got the robot sentinels on the surface of planets that wander aimlessly around the environment, that are there to protect stuff, for lore reasons.
If you get on their bad side, they'll begin to attack you and in the top right corner, you'll have kind of a star system, the higher it gets, the more will come after you. Problem is you can just simply run a good 30 feet away, and they'll immediately forget about you, worse yet once you've done some upgrading to your multi-tool, they'll simply become a minor annoyance as you blast them away in seconds. Basically the game has survival elements, but throws absolutely no challenge to your survival what so ever.
Next up, is the inventory... From the moment you start the game, you're given a pathetically small inventory, which you'll have to get used to, by micro-managing the different resources you pick up, however if you decide to equip any kind of upgrade, it takes up an entire inventory slot, thus reducing your already very limited space.
Maybe this was to make the game more challenging early on, but considering you can refill your life support system with carbon, which you can get from almost any type of plant and the survival already being pathetically easy, I honestly don't see the point in limiting the inventory this way. Not like it matters anyways, as you can thankfully find inventory upgrades through “drop-pods” that you can find scattered around planet surfaces, which allow you to gain access to an extra inventory slot, for a maximum of 48 slots.
But probably the biggest issue with this game for me, an issue that just flat out made me stop playing all together in pure frustration, is the stability of the game.
This game is a bit of a train wreck to put it lightly in terms of technical problems, I can't think of any game of this hardware generation, on launch that has crashed for me this much. I'm not talking like once or twice, or even a few times, during my roughly 40 to 50 or so hours I've spent with No Man's Sky and sifting through my footage, the game has crashed for me well over two dozen times. Mostly when either naming planets or uploading something I discovered or going through the options tab in general, or trying to warp to a different system, the game would immediately close out and I'd be greeted with the familiar blue error screen.
I decided to even do a test and see how many times the game would crash if I warped 13 times to 13 different systems in succession with the amount of warp coils I had in my inventory, out of the 13 warps, the game crashed on me SEVEN TIMES, so basically warping to a different system, its a coin flip on whether not you'll actually get there or the game decides to crash instead. It got to a point where I was too worried about the game crashing on me when I had a bunch of resources on me, that I would have to save at a save spot before I even attempted to name a planet, look through the options tab, or even warp to a another system.
Graphically speaking, as I've said earlier, the art style and presentation is pretty nice, and considering how massive the game is, I didn't expect this to be graphical juggernaut, honestly my only complaint with the game graphically is the stupidly low field of view,
Normally FOV barely ever bothers me in a video game I'm usually perfectly content with default FOVs in most games, but the FOV in No Man's Sky PS4 release is pathetically low for whatever reason and worse yet has no slider or option to adjust it, I felt like a horse with blinkers on. The game also gets very samey very fast.... It's clear the game uses a ton of the recycled assists, every interior to a space station is almost identical, almost every alien post you discover on planets, all look the same for the most part except for very minor changes. You'll see plenty of the same type of foliage, plant life, and even slightly changed animals on different planets, but it's understandable considering this is a procedural generated game.
At the end of the day, I feel like No Man's Sky should have had another year or even possibly longer of development time under it, to deliver truly something that could have possibly been special, like I said earlier I feel like this was a skeleton of a game that could have been. But with that said, I also feel like a ton of people, went into this game with unbelievably high expectations and it didn't help matters with the Sony marketing machine in full force hyping this game up as the next “big thing” and more or less masqueraded what is basically an indie game from a small developer with a 15 person staff, as this genre defining big game changer.
Which also probably put a ton of pressure on this small staff, to release this game as quickly as possible and considering the end result, that's a likely case.
I really liked this game first, my first good early hours with No Man's Sky was great, as I said earlier I felt like I was scratching the surface of something big, only to realize very soon after seeing a few different planets, I've basically witnessed everything this game has to offer. Then throw in list of problems, ranging from technical issues, lack of challenge, the developers basically misleading people or being extremely unclear on multiplayer, it's hard to just glance over these issues and write a positive review about all this.
This game is memorable.... But it'll sadly be memorable for all the wrong reasons.