Nicole Smith ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Video Games Editor
The development of Hello Games’s No Man’s Sky has been an interesting and exciting process to follow, if not vague and somewhat hard to pin down. Even with how robust and involved No Man’s Sky appeared to be in trailers and promotional materials, the finished product has proven to be even more in-depth than previously advertised.
Playing No Man’s Sky is like being thrown into the deep end of a swimming pool; there are sparse tutorials and encyclopedia entries to help you facilitate your understanding of the journey you’re undertaking, but largely, the game is about letting the player set their preferred pace and find their own way. The player is encouraged to interact with the exploration of space and planets in the way that best suits their playstyle, and almost every tool in the game is available from the moment your very own personal starting planet is procedurally generated.
So, in that sense, that is the greatest crux of one’s enjoyment of No Man’s Sky—curiosity, and a passion for exploration. Gameplay-wise, there are never really any changes. There’s material collection, crafting, resource upkeep, very simple FPS-style combat, and the occasional puzzle to solve here and there (you better be good at reading context clues, because it’s almost impossible to become fully fluent in any of the game’s many alien languages.) However, while you tend to repeat the same actions time and time again as you explore, it doesn’t feel tiring, because what changes are the environments in which the player is performing those actions. Whether you’re fighting for your life on a moon rich with precious metals or trying to solve the mystery of a planet long since dead, the player performs these routine tasks to unravel the beautiful, unique worlds No Man’s Sky has to offer.
Is it possible for the novelty of No Man’s Sky to fade? Of course. The game can only have so many assets, so many new pieces of information or new things to see, so eventually, you’ll land on a planet that’s pretty much a color swap of one you’ve already seen. But there’s no doubt that you’ll absolutely get your money’s worth before that happens.