I've been toying with how to write this review for some time now, partly because I had so much hope that this game would succeed, I didn't know where to start talking about my sheer disappointment with it. I'm not one of those people who expected the world of the game, just loved the look of what the game was, and exploration game set in the biggest world ever known to a console gamer. I wasn't expecting features that were never shown or talked about, I wasn't expecting the hand crafted brilliance of a Naughty Dog game, nor the open world adventures that can be found in Bethesda's games. I just went in excited for the game, exactly as it had been shown before. Even then I couldn't have anticipated the level of disappointment that would slowly creep up on me during my 20 or so hours with the game.
I will admit that I did have one expectation going into the game, that I would be playing this for tens(dare I hope hundreds?) of hours to come, I never occurred to me that after merely 20 hours I would feel that I'd seen everything this game has to offer, and then some. Maybe I was just slow of the mark in seeing the game for what it is, tiny. You may feel like with over 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets that the game couldn't possibly be tiny, but I assure you it is. Within maybe a dozen hours I had found and bought my way to a maximum slot inventory and Multi-Tool, at the time I thought that would be the true start of my adventure! It turns out that it was as close to the end as I am ever like to get. I have earned and crafted all of the Multi-Tool and Inventory technologies that I want, my mining laser is so fast that even the largest of Crystals can be harvested with the smallest of taps of R2. So after as little as 12 hours every Multi-Tool station I saw was 100% redundant because it was a fact that I'd learned all the technologies. If you want to fly over the surface of a planet then you will see a wide variety of small bases set up by aliens(almost too many considering how largely empty these planets are of NPSs) but these rarely house more than a Multi-Tool upgrade, maybe it's an observatory you land at, well you're in luck as this will allow you to discover a Ruin which when located will teach you a new word for the aliens that inhabit that System. This is a problem in itself, the languages in this game have been designed in such a way that once you learn enough words(again something I have done in the time with the game) you don't really need to learn any more, at least to achieve what the languages set out to give you. I think they set out to allow you to gain new and desirable rewards from foreign alien races. In reality it doesn't take long for you to learn enough words to know exactly what the alien is seeking, then selecting the option feels empty, almost like I didn't really earn the right to speak with these unfathomable aliens.
At the end of the day I was hoping that No Man's Sky would be a game to look back on for years to come as the defining moment in procedural generation, the spotlight was undeniably squarely on the small UK development team forming Hello Games. This was going to be a game discussed for years to come, about the aliens you met, planets discovered, and space explored. Instead people will, for the large part, simply remember that game that had so much promise yet behind the curtain of development seemingly fell at every hurdle without letting on. I think this game will still cause debates, but not the ones everyone was expecting, there will be few discussions about the beauty and majesty of the game. In this place will be discussions of how everyone felt they had been mislead by a developer to the point that their game was arguably the most anticipated game so far of the generation.
It is a saddening, not enlightening, experience to fly from planet to planet, with little to no anticipation of what you will find on the next one after an all too short period of time. I know this review is both shorter and very different when compared to my other reviews, this is largely because I always like to focus on what I like, but also what I don't like whilst suggesting ways that these issues could be improved. However I find myself with this game in the very rare position of believing that this can't can't be tweaked to anywhere near perfection. It can maybe get a little less repetitive, but at its core this is just quite frankly not a good game. I feel there is a real debate to be had over the price point, and whether many people(myself included) would consider if such a failure if we had only paid £15-20 for it. This is a debate that I passionately want to have with you all so do check back soon for my thoughts on that. At the end of the day however, I am here to review the product in front of me, No Man's Sky is clearly a game that thinks its self a AAA game, but fall so far short in both quality and quantity that it is staggering. While I have been thinking about how to write this review, I have obviously also been considering what I will score it. So it is time to finish my review of No Man's Sky, not as an excited space explorer, but as a crestfallen gamer. I give No Man's Sky
Thank you very much for reading, I will be back soon with my thoughts on Battlefield 1!
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!