No game has rode the hype train as hard and long this year as the sci-fi exploration title No Man's Sky. Players couldn't wait to explore its 18 quintillion planets, its procedurally generated flora and fauna, and its mysterious alien civilizations. So much so that some players got ahold of copies early and streamed the game before it even came out!
But like all hype trains, when this one pulled into the station, reality hit hard. Now that game journalists have spent quality time with the game, the reviews are rolling out and they are, on the whole, they are very mixed.
Most of the reviews are giving the game a 6 out of 10 on average and seem to be hitting the same note: the game is immersive and beautiful at first, but quickly becomes repetitive.
However, if you enjoy exploration and discovery, the game delivers in spades.
Jaw-dropping, then yawn-enducing
On the fun side, PC Gamer noted that planet exploration beings as wonderful:
"I find myself having fun, mostly upon finding an attractive planet that doesn't want to immediately scorch, irradiate, or drench me with alkaline rain. I spent several hours...exploring, cataloging all its plants and creatures, learning tidbits of alien languages, and comfortably straying further from my ship than I ever had before. While I didn't see anything jaw-dropping or discover anything mind-blowing, it was a relaxing and fun excursion."
But, as Polygon notes in their review, that fades after a few planets:
"Exploring them is fun enough at first, and they're very expansive, but they all began to feel very same-y - and very empty - after I had visited half a dozen or so. You can find some absolutely stunning locales, no doubt, but there are only so many times I can get a kick out of discovering yet another variety of space cow or yet another wacky giant mushroom."
Minecraft in HiDef
Yet for others, that's exactly the appeal of the game as this reviewer from The Daily Dot explains:
"Playing No Man's Sky is very similar to my experience of Minecraft. I will spend months exploring a Minecraft world, gathering coal and iron and diamonds to make the weapons and armor, brewing the potions and enchanting the gear I need to keep me alive.
I go on mapping expeditions to chart the entire world. And then I invariably spin up an entirely new Minecraft world so I can start over again from scratch and enjoy the thrill of discovery."
Confused yet on if this game is for you? Consider this.
Many players have been enjoying No Man's Sky while others have been decrying it as a failure. What seems to make the difference is whether you enjoy sandbox games that don't give you much direction and allow you to do what you want or whether you need a game that gives you clear goals and direction.
Real goals or Far Cry freedom?
Rock Paper Shotgun's review hit the nail on the head when they said:
"If you want real goals, a strong sense of purpose beyond bumbling around and incremental improvements, then this really isn't going to satisfy. It's a deeply frustrating to think about that game, the game that offered both the freeform, undirected, but undesigned randomness, and a real, purposeful narrative thread of missions and goals.
If you're the sort who loves just milling about in a Far Cry game and ignores the main plot, then you're far more likely to find affinity with NMS, albeit without even the litany of sidequests to direct you."
Are you an explorer or a fighter?
No Man's Sky is all about exploration, discovery, solitude, and relaxing while enjoying the ride. If that sounds like a good time, you should check it out.
If you are looking for an action-packed space shooter with multiplayer and social features, you should definitely be looking to other skies.
Want a further look at No Man's Sky? Check out the brutal first planets these players started on!