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No Man's Sky (2016) - Game Review

No Man's Sky is a procedurally generated open world (open universe !?) adventure-exploration game developed by the indie studio Hello Games. Now, this is a very divisive game, and I have never experienced anything like it. It's like the game starts out amazingly well, and slowly deteriorates into a repetitive mess.  

Things I liked: 
  • The soundtrack. If there is one thing this game nails completely, it was the soundtrack. I simply loved it. From hauntingly beautiful to the epic triumphant pieces, it really gave the game its own feel.
    You get this when you enter a space station for the first time: No Man's Sky OST: Asimov
  • First couple of hours. They were amazing and were exactly what I was hoping for. Things like the first time you fly your ship out of the atmosphere, land on a space station, land on a different planet etc was so exhilarating. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced, and as a space fan, I was having a blast. 
  • Next several hours. They were pretty good. At this point, I was constantly reaching milestones and it felt like real progress was being made. Exploring different systems and planets for rich elements in order to upgrade my suit, multi-tool and ship was fun. I had these objectives set, like buying a new ship of certain value, going through a black hole etc and it made these hours enjoyable. 
  • Beautiful vistas. I can't count how many times I came upon views where I would just pause and take it all in. While technically, visuals aren't anything impressive (It is an indie game after all), it is the combination of tons of color pellets and the procedural generation that can sometimes create amazing views. Example: Land on a Lush Moon and marvel at the gigantic planet coming up from the horizon in the background as you see beautiful Flora in the foreground.
  • While the crafting wasn't anything deep, it was good enough. The UI was simple, the instructions were clear, and the game constantly gave you tips about what to do etc. 
  • Caves. Some planets had some really beautiful cave systems. 
  • The fact that instead of simply giving you the distance, you get how much time it will take to reach the destination based on your current velocity, really giving you the feel of immense size of the universe. 
  • Speaking of which, the sheer size. I mean, it was overwhelming. 
  • The combat, while nothing amazing, was good enough I had fun doing it. Once you upgrade your stuff, you tend to enjoy it a lot more. :)

Things I didn't like:
Now, after the initial couple of hours and the several hours after that, as mentioned above, it became apparent how limited the game was despite the fact of it unimaginable size. The term "A mile wide but only an inch deep." couldn't been more truer in this case. 
  • Only three alien species, all of whom seem to be standing or sitting in the same positions, in similar offices, forever. There was no variety to them. They all had limited dialogue options and riddles etc, which after a while became too repetitive. 
  • No variety to the building and space stations. All of them looked the same everywhere, with just different colors. 
  • No proper lore. Everything you get is vague and 'Trying to be Alien smart' AF. 
  • The monoliths, the problems, distress signals solutions all of it was so limited. Very few variations, which might have looked fun at first, but after several hours, it became very cumbersome. 
  • Limited planetary landscapes. While the planets themselves had huge variety, the generated results seemed to copy paste all over the planet. There were no big variations like valleys and mountains, plains and big lakes. No poles, no different climates. 
  • Things missing from the demos and previews like:
    • No ship types pros and cons. All of them basically felt the same. They only looked different. 
    • No proper faction system. 
    • No real planetary movements. Their was a daylight cycle but it felt so weird that the planets and the moon all stayed in the same place while the star was moving. WTF. 
    • No big space battles.
    • No giant sentinels walkers. 
    • No portals, or atleast working ones anyway. 
  • The ending. MY GOD. What a bitch slap it was. After tons of hours of grinding and extremely repetitive gameplay (As mentioned above), when you finally reach the center, the one thing that kept me going, hoping for some cool psychological answer, or anything for that matter, the game pulls a fucking Mario Bros on you. I was so infuriated and disappointed by it. 
This game, this tech has HUGE potential. Imagine proper politics, rich storyline, planets full of cities etc with an open world nature of this game. It would be amazing and I hope Hello Games or any other dev does something like that in the sequel, or in some other game. I have been playing around with mods, and it has been fun so far. Modders have been able to do some pretty cool things, so if you have the game, definitely check them out.

Ultimately, I had a blast playing this game, and at the same time, it was annoying and frustrating as hell. The final score is low because as a whole, the game is disappointing, but at the same time, I'm glad I played it. Like I said, very divisive game. 



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