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Video Game Review: No Man’s Sky

Controversial is the word of the game, a game that promised so much, but yet caused so many to scream that they got so little. This is a game set out in a vast universe, one massive entity where we would be exploring aimlessly for centuries. People would get to see alien life forms wandering around, as well as barren and desolate planets. This is a game that has gotten so many people upset because they don’t have anything more than an exploration game. A game where you gather resources, explore and then we’re done with it. I remember I wrote about how excited I was for No Man’s Sky, because I love grind games. I love repetition and I love to explore. I love the nooks and cranny’s of games, I love Easter Eggs and glitches.

NMS Title

Overview

Developer Hello Games
Platforms PC (Windows), PS4
Windows Release August 2016
Genre Exploration, Survival
Price on Steam  £39.99

Review

Story

One more Vy'keen

Okay, this bit is a little bit disappointing – But basically the story of No Man’s Sky is just there to get you to really understand what the game is about. During the story, you will follow the Atlas, or you will try and proceed through the universe yourself. You will attempt to reach the centre of the universe, which has been met (with*) (a lot) (of criticism). Rightly or wrongly, the game is about getting to the centre of the universe and then continuing your exploration of the universe. That’s what the game’s story is all about – and that’s it. You can also follow one of a few paths to get to the centre of the universe: Either via the Atlas, the Vy’Keen or presumably by yourself completely.

When I was reading about this game, a long time ago, I remember being excited by the seemingly infinite planets. The numbers blew my mind and that’s what I wanted out of this – To explore, publish my findings in some central database and proceed. I didn’t care for a story and it seems like the story of the game is just there to get you to explore.

Gameplay

Looking up inside of a massive block of material

Looking up inside of a massive block of material

The game starts you off on a completely random planet. I found my first planet and started to look around, thinking “huh, is this Minecraft all over again? Procedurally generated world with no purpose?” That made me happy, as that was what I was looking for. I like exploring worlds that a computer has made up – It’s fun! It’s why I like rogue-likes so much! Once you get your bearings, you understand that you need to gather resources, submit your findings to The Atlas and off you go! You need to gather resources and learn how to improve your equipment, as well as fixing up your broken ship – and that’s basically it. You get resources, you fix stuff that’s breaking or refuel anything that is running out of whatever fuels it, then go between planets and rinse and repeat.

The game hasn’t promised to be much else, but of course, people do look into what is said quite seriously. If the developer states that there is to be factions, then of course everyone will want to see this. But then again, when you consider how a faction works… Wouldn’t that mean you would need to have met other people? Those who say that this is only a single player game are wrong, although some clarification as to how players really impact this universe should be made. The issue lies in that people are looking around really quickly and going between system to system. Some people are exploring every planet on their systems – but by the time you’ve bounced between systems, the person who was once there probably has already finished on the planet you’ve gone on. When I got this game, I was expecting to never encounter another person and I have no issues with this. But I know I’m not in a “typical” single player game, in that I’ve seen other peoples systems and other peoples planets.

Learning the Vy'keen's language

Learning the Vy’keen’s language

This is where it gets a bit more interesting. The features that Hello Games promised are in there. The only thing I’m not so certain on is “can you name your ship“, but apparently if you’re the first person to find a kind of ship, then everyone in the game will see the name of the ships as whatever you named it. Effectively, if you found a specific kind of ship and called it a flippyflappy, then everyone would see that. This is true for planets, systems and more. Don’t forget, this is the universe and it’s your job to go and discover as much as you can! You will find a ridiculously large amount of procedurally generated creatures and procedurally generated flora. You can discover them, upload them and name them. You can even name the systems you’re in. I saw a ridiculous comment on YouTube, where the guy claims you cannot travel between Systems. That’s kind of one of the major things to do with hyperdrive, sir..? Yes, you can travel between systems.

By the by, let’s talk about the universe for a bit. You fly from planet to planet, blowing up debris and ships. The Sentinels are a force to be reckoned with, but if you’re like me, you kinda like blowing up the baddies. We don’t really know if they are baddies, but they certainly seem to be against what we’re about. Perhaps a future update could give us more reason to want to go and blow up their space ships, but I’ve had enough of their crap when they eye me down just for blowing up a rock called Dwayne Johnson. I understand these are all giant wrestling fan robots, but c’mon guys.

CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THIS ROCK IS COOKING?!

CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THIS ROCK IS COOKING?! – Yes, I named a rock Dwayne Johnson

Audio

 

 

The full OST was composed by 65daysofstatic. Go give them a like!

To be fair, this part of the review has nothing wrong with it at all. The music is atmospheric, before picking up whenever the game gets a bit more tense. If you decide to attack one of the drones flying around the place, the music quickens and gets a bit more serious. Other times, when you first enter a planet, you will enter to some relaxing music, allowing you to explore at your leisure. The music in the game is beautiful, but it’s nothing that will make you run to the shops to buy the OST. Still, linked above is a sample of the in-game music.

Meanwhile, the audio of the Vy’Keen just sounds like someone going “omnomnom” next to a microphone. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I don’t expect to understand them… But it does sound a bit weird. Voices aren’t all bad though: The robotic voice who keeps telling you that your suit is in trouble is a proper robotic voice. As well as this, the sound effects in the game are on point. There’s not much to say about sound effects though… I mean they’re great for what they are, but they are just sound effects.

Graphics

As always, here on GeekOut South-West, we believe that you should be the judge of the graphics for yourself. Since the version I’ve been playing is on the PS4, there’s a limited capability with the screenshots, in that they’ll be somewhat poorer on resolution. Nevertheless, you should be able to get a good idea of the graphics of the game with the following gallery. Personally, I think the game looks gorgeous and even when the procedurally generated lands mess up, it’s still an enjoyable journey through a planet. Here’s our gallery:

Overall

So yes, you are free to be as upset as you want with No Man’s Sky. But as you might have seen from the above Gameplay section, they delivered what they promised. If you feel like you’ve been misled, then unfortunately the onus might come back to you. The game never promised a building facility, nor it really promised much in the way of resource gathering. That was something I personally didn’t expect when I walked into it (having watched no gameplay trailers). I can completely sympathise with the anger and the frustration that people feel towards the game, but let’s not take away from the fact that this was made by a tiny team in a small amount of time.

I’m not fully defending this game, for it does indeed need more. I agree with the complaints, wanting to see more happening, but I’m disgusted by the people who demanded a refund even after 10+ hours of gameplay. That’s why this review has been full of links everywhere: I’m bringing all of the points together to explain that both sides are wrong here. Yes, Hello Games need to do more, but they’ve got the ability and the time now to do so. They can implement patches to bring massive gameplay changes in. I’m hoping they take the criticisms on board and actually release some more interesting features, but apparently this is what they’re working on. They have been actively working on fixing bugs, which were found within weeks of the game being released and I’m hopeful that this becomes a bigger game than it currently is… Even though when you consider the sheer number of planets, the game is plenty big enough as it is.

A procedurally generated creature

A procedurally generated creature

To summarise then, this isn’t the best game in the world (hah, get it..?), but I’ve enjoyed my time in space. There is an air of over-repetition in the game and I hope the developers address this. I also hope that the initial backlash from a very keen fanbase (and the journalist trigger fingers) will not cause too many problems for the developer down the line. Perhaps I’m being too optimistic and perhaps the game will go nowhere, but I want to believe Hello Games will expand their universe… Even if it’s in a bizarre fashion. I tell you, if they implement a building facility into the game (like they’re saying they will at the bottom of these update notes, ) I’m all for it! I’ll inhabit every world I can, build a little castle base and raise my flag and say “come at me universe”, whilst the toxicity levels of the planet rises… But now it’s over to you. Am I right or wrong in calling out both sides to this story? Do you think I’m being unfair on the people who play the game, or am I defending both sides points fairly? What do you make of the overall game, now that you’ve read my thoughts? Have I made your opinion differ any? As always, thanks for reading and please remember to leave us a comment below, or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

*These links have adblocker blockers.

9 responses

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed the game, but people have a point in wanting a refund for this early access game. This game is missing a lot of things that the developers didn’t include. They lied about things up until the release day. This game has as much content as a early access title which is why I called it a early access game.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 4, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    • Mini rant incoming, so there’s a TL;DR at the bottom haha! :P

      I absolutely disagree with the idea of people asking for a refund on a game. I’m still trying to find the things people have said the developers have lied about, as I’ve seen a lot of -spin- articles on the subject. I’ve yet to find any tangible evidence of what the devs lied about. I even cite in this article sources that say about these lies and find counter evidence, which has been provided above.

      For instance, one of the articles I linked above, as an explicit case on this, says the developer said there would be building in the game. They have admitted they will be adding it in, but when I heard about this game, some several months back, I only thought this game was an exploration and survival game: Which is what was delivered.

      Meanwhile, people are playing a good 10 in some extreme cases 50 hours – and claiming a refund. We don’t do this for any other medium? We don’t go to a cinema and ask for a refund when we are dissatisfied with a film.

      I’m pro-gamer, I’m pro-indie and I love cheap games. I think a good 90% of my games reviewed on here are indie or even in some cases early access… I think that this has been taken far out of hand.

      However: I am on peoples side that this game needs to be expanded upon. There needs to be more substance. Perhaps this does have as much content as an early access game – Perhaps. But for me, the experience has been what I wanted – Which was the experience I was told I was going to get by the developer.

      Perhaps, because I didn’t watch so many videos about it… Perhaps I’m wrong in having looked at the website to see what features were written on the website… But me and a friend from my day job both said that the game promises to be an exploration/survival game… This was months ago. Now that it’s here, it’s what we were looking for.

      TL;DR: Asking for a refund when they’ve played a good 10+ hours, or when they’ve finished the main story, is wrong. It’s like asking a cinema for your money back when you finish the film and were dissatisfied with the ending.

      Like

      September 4, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      • “You” expected this to be a exploration game, but I suspect that’s because you didn’t follow the development as close as other people. There are a ton of videos/articles that explain exactly what was promised, but isn’t in the main game. Where are the fleet battles for example? There’s a lot missing and whether or not you agree doesn’t the fact the developers lied about their game and even resorted to putting stickers on the back of the box to block out the multiplayer tag on it.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 4, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      • You just used the same defense everyone says uses on this front: They’re saying that my expectations aren’t right, because I didn’t follow all the videos. Perhaps this is true and perhaps me expecting what the official website says (which I’ve linked many times in the article) is wrong, because of videos people have see. By the by, I’m still waiting to see what I can’t do in the game that they confirmed on their official website.

        So let’s look at what constitutes an allowable refund.

        When we open a physical copy of a game and play it, our right to refund is void. That’s it. Finito. Gone. No refunds allowed unless a regulatory body says so.

        When you request a Steam refund, it can’t happen if you’ve downloaded the game, officially. Unless the game is buggy beyond being playable, then they can take action typically.

        In this case, people are merely disappointed. SOME people went so far as to say “They felt like they might as well get the refund”

        Why is this different?

        If I can watch a film and be disappointed because it didn’t live up to the hype, or some scenes were deleted (Suicide Squad) and not expect a refund, why is this different? This is media, this is still a developer who has spent a long time on this game. Perhaps with more time the game will be better – I.E more expanded. Besides: The developers have already spoken out about expanding the game.

        Perhaps I’m too optimistic? Perhaps the world doesn’t work like this? But ultimately, I’m concerned this opens the doors for more people to say “I didn’t like this” and get refunds on other games… Which, personally, I feel is wrong. I spend money on media, sometimes I’m disappointed.

        Like

        September 4, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      • The refund thing you stated is only true with console games. I get refunds on PC all the time with zero problems. I don’t refund games very often, but No Man’s Sky earned it.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 4, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      • (Forgot to link the part where people were going for refunds for the sake of it: https://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/4zslu6/psa_steam_is_refunding_no_mans_sky_even_if_you/ )

        Liked by 1 person

        September 4, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      • People have a right to get a refund if the product is falsely advertised and that’s exactly what No Man’s Sky is. You seem like you want to ignore legitimate problems that this game has.

        Either way the vast majority of gamers that brought this game aren’t wrong. I’m stating facts that I’ve researched myself from various different sources and from what the creator himself said countless times in multiple interviews. The dude is a liar. He knew his game couldn’t possibly live up to the hype and he kept spewing nonsense to get people excited. You can go by the main website if you want. I’m going by what the creator himself said would be in the game. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this subject.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 4, 2016 at 11:17 pm

  2. Sorry for the multiple comments btw and I hope I didn’t sound argumentative :]. I respect your opinion and your review.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 4, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    • Not to worry – Articles like these are meant to incite discussion! It’s the beauty of why we blog, isn’t it? Of everyone’s view was the same, there’d have never been an article like this one :)

      Like

      September 4, 2016 at 11:38 pm

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