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No Man’s Sky Group Review


The Many Opinions on No Man’s Sky

Here at OmniGamer we dived headlong into No Man’s Sky, all with differing opinions. To do the game justice, we felt it was best to approach a review that recognized all of these perspectives in one place. The following is our take on Hello Games’s newest release with words from Tyler Chancey, Joseph Funke, Tanner H., and Billy Arundell

First Takes

No Man's Sky

Via videogamer.com.

“Think fast,” was my first immediate thought. The minute the game began I started repairing my spaceship and was almost immediately attacked by hostile drones. My second thought was enjoying my spaceship once I had it repaired and I escaped Murder-Bot Central.

-Tyler Chancey

 

Countless games promise to create an experience so unique and creative that people will treasure their moments with it for years to come, and more often than not, it doesn’t work out that way. No Man’s Sky is one of those games. Live E3 demos, developer tweets, and threads on online forums are just a few things that factor into the unreachable expectations of No Man’s Sky. It was made out to be the final video game; a game you could practically play for the rest of your life because of the infinite universe it holds. A wild statement, but so many people actually believed it. In reality its more like a less charming version of Minecraft in space.

-Joseph Funke

I’ve been waiting for two and a half years to get my hands on No Man’s Sky. I’ve been excited for games in the past, and I’ll be excited for more games in the future, but nothing will be able to match the “hype” levels I had for this game. So when I walked out of the store with a copy of it in my hands, it was almost a feeling of relief from those years of waiting.

-Tanner H

 

I started No Man’s Sky with tempered expectations. I avoided a lot of the pre-release content and rumours in order to have as fresh a take as possible. I inevitably developed my own ideas of the game, but I didn’t want them to shape my experience. The opening moments were tense and honest about the survival elements. I thought that was a great way to introduce players to the reality of No Man’s Sky. It’s about managing resources and inventory over all. I kept telling myself, “I have to complete these early tasks and then the game will open up, welcoming me to explore the world and become someone in this galaxy.” But I’m still not that someone. I’m still me, gathering materials and wondering when it will become more fun. If the excruciatingly meticulous management and survival mechanics are your thing, then No Man’s Sky is for you. Just know, it doesn’t become anything more.

-Billy Arundell

 

Minute to Minute

No Man's Sky

Via pushsquare.com.

My game sessions fell into a very familiar pattern. I would get to a new planet and get completely and utterly lost. I would just lose myself in the planet’s geography and chase locations of interests while discovering new lifeforms and stocking up on precious metals. After solving whatever puzzles certain abandoned buildings or alien obelisks have for me I would head back to space and go to the nearest space station. Once there I would sell off everything I can at a profit, keeping an eye on Galactic Standard pay like a penny-pinching planet-hopping gold panner. Then I’d review my discoveries, rename the creatures, locations and the planet in keeping with a naming theme I improvise for the system I’m in, Norse god names for planets in the Aesir system, blatant irreverence in the Adams system, annoying Rick and Morty references in the Harmon system, etc. Rinse, repeat, cash the check.

-Tyler Chancey

 

Exploration takes a back seat to survival in No Man’s Sky – which is surprising because I thought the crux of a game with infinite worlds would be travelling through the wild and wacky planets you come across. Exploration does happen every once in a while, but it’s the byproduct of constantly recharging stat bars and tiresome mineral management.

The endless space adventure has you start out in the middle of a randomly generated planet which you have to scavenge for resources to fix and fuel up your ship. It’s haunting. I felt so alone on that planet, an emotion that survival games don’t usually get out of me. It could’ve been from watching the millions of other planets before I crash landed, or maybe it was because of the built-in defence systems on planets called Sentinels, which are floating eyes that attack you in swarms if they catch you collecting resources. Whatever it is, No Man’s Sky produces an uncomfortable atmosphere whenever you attempt to explore and it’s hard to shake.

-Joseph Funke

 

It is so easy to get lost in the moment-to-moment gameplay of No Man’s Sky. The night it released, I played for a solid three hours, and about seven more the following day. Just being an explorer, going from planet to planet, mining for materials and crafting parts for my ship were enough to make me lose track of time in the real world. There’s something so calming about flying around the surface of a planet and looking for observatories or trade depots. There is, of course, the overall goal of reaching the center of the galaxy. However, I am getting plenty of enjoyment from just drifting around the stars as I please and taking in the sights.

-Tanner H

 

I battled between exploring strictly for necessity and trying to enjoy the view. But, nothing changed. I continued to search for supplies, sell items, buy materials, and flying to other planets, moons and space stations. I rinsed and repeated these steps only to get to the next location where it required nothing more than the previous one. Some tasks were interesting, like learning languages and fleshing out a galaxy I am entirely unfamiliar with by interacting with aliens with great designs. However, this is not exactly a necessity to get to where you’re going. It helped immerse me in the world, but I don’t know why I should care about the different species and their relationships. They are just more optional tools to get to the centre of the galaxy.

-Billy Arundell

 

The Feel

No Man's Sky

Via videogamer.com.

The menus and UI were off-putting at first. The button to hit confirm alternates so frequently based on the context. And it gets so annoying just to remember; square to interact, square to make a dialogue decision but X is used to confirm something else on a different menu. Circle will let you leave a conversation without insulting the NPC but if someone gives you an item that exact same button makes you refuse the gift. After a while, you get a better idea of when button layouts are used when, but it seems more complicated than it needs to be. The inventory management is serviceable but it can feel like busywork since you are managing not just your inventory but your ship’s cargo and whatever combat attachments you have assigned to your multi-tool on three different tabs.

On the flipside, the flight and on foot controls are a lot better. Getting into my first dogfight was exciting and whether it’s the first time or the fiftieth I always enjoy the simple satisfaction of flying to a new planet or space station. Running, shooting, mining materials and using my built-in jetpack to get to high places is also second nature. There are some minor quibbles such as having to open up a menu in order to feed carbon into my suit to maintain its life support. But I’d rather just bind that to a button. However, the sprint button being assigned to R3 instead of L3 is a minor annoyance.

-Tyler Chancey

 

Being forced to quickly grasp surroundings also means that you have to quickly grasp the controls which are another interesting part of No Man’s Sky. On the Playstation 4, the “run” button is mapped to the right stick and the “scan” button is on the left stick, which is completely bizarre to me. It’s been standard for games with a running option to have it on the left stick, and people have gotten used to that over the years. It’s just intuitive. Making such a weird change to the control stick norm while introducing so many new mechanics exclusive to No Man’s Sky, made for a clunky, awkward first 15 minutes.

-Joseph Funke

 

To me, the controls are simple but in the best way possible. Moving around on foot has a nice weight to it. You pick up items and search crates with just a single button. And using your laser to mine elements is actually very satisfying. The flight controls have a nice “arcade” feel to them. Just point yourself in a direction, fire up your thrusters, and you will get the where you want to go. Everything in the menus and inventory screens is laid out in an easy to read way. Basically, everything about the gameplay is set up to be as easy as possible. Which is great, because it lets you focus on the goals you’ve set for yourself, rather than trying to remember what button does what.

-Tanner H

 

No Man’s Sky is all about exploration. Whether it’s on foot or in your spaceship, you’re going to be doing a lot of travelling. The flying mechanics are simple and intuitive, making planet hopping an enjoyable experience despite the great distances. However, the ground traversal is abysmally boring and slow. It should not crawl at a snail’s pace, nor should I have to struggle with the very limiting sprint option in short bursts. While it takes realism very seriously, there has to be a better way to get from Point A to Point B in this game. I already spend most of my time painstakingly managing an inventory. I shouldn’t have to stare at my screen in boredom as I saunter across procedurally generated worlds.

-Billy Arundell

 

The Looks

No Man's Sky

Via pushsquare.com.

No Man’s Sky looks brilliant and messy at the same time. On the one hand I absolutely adore its art direction and visual style, the way how even if a planet has similar texture work it is given an illusion of freshness with a clever use of an exotic yet vibrant color palette. How is it messy? It does a bad job hiding its own wires. There’s a weird film filter effect that’s used to hide a planet getting more and more detailed as you get closer to it and makes things very distracting. This is to say nothing of the weird visual glitches and three separate crashes I experienced.

-Tyler Chancey

 

No Man’s Sky has so many different planets, but a lot of them look the same. I’ve flown to many different planets, but flora and rock structures look almost identical, The only species I’ve seen diversity with is the animals, but I’m not complaining because they look fantastic. The first creature I met was a small crab with rabbit ears and a lion’s tail. The most recent creature I saw was a gigantic armadillo with scales and a multi-pronged beaver tail. I honestly burst out laughing looking at them. Having the ability to rename settlements, plants, and animals is great because it really enhances the personal part of the experience. I saw a weird dog thing and I named its species “Ugly Boys”, now all of them are going to be called that forever, and if anyone ever stumbles upon my planet they will know about the carnivorous Ugly Boys, which I think is pretty cool. The scenery is also just breathtakingly beautiful. It’s so bright and vibrant, and while you’re soaring through a planet’s atmosphere and gazing below at the undiscovered land it makes you feel like you’re actually flying a spaceship around. That’s where No Man’s Sky shines the most.

-Joseph Funke

 

Visually, No Man’s Sky is absolutely stunning. From the giant space stations with their sterile interiors to the depths of the most radioactive seas, everything is breathtaking. Flying down to the surface of a new planet, and seeing the colors of the dirt, water, grass, and trees come into view is something that still blows my mind.

-Tanner H

 

No Man’s Sky takes a hit in graphical fidelity in order to provide a daunting, expansive galaxy. That’s perfectly fine by me. It is still beautiful to look at, mostly attributed to the side color palette. The worlds, while vaguely interesting to look at, are more a technical marvel than pretty by current standards. I enjoy the way the worlds change depending on the atmospheric and weather conditions, making each planet a little different from the last. The pop-in and distance fog is just one unfortunate casualty in the game that poured a lot of its power into giving us a diverse galaxy to explore. I think it’s a worthwhile negative, boosting a more important positive.

-Billy Arundell

 

Fun-Factor

No Man's Sky

Via techcrunch.com.

No Man’s Sky feels like it was made for me. It’s a weird mix of so many game genres: survival, sandbox, flight simulator, and yet it defies all of them. There is no big evil to fight, no major dynamic events that happen on certain planets, it’s an old school game where you progress simply for its own sake and it makes the whole thing oddly relaxing and soothing. It has started losing its luster to me in some parts, the creature designs are starting to feel more and more like randomly stuck together organic Lego parts than believable wildlife, and there have been a few weird bugs and clipping issues but other than that I am having a ball.

-Tyler Chancey

 

I don’t know if I’m having fun when I play No Man’s Sky, but I do know that I’m constantly captivated and intrigued by what could possibly show up on my screen next. It’s definitely not a game I’ll be playing forever, but I know that I can always boot it up if I’m ever in the mood to explore an unknown galaxy.

-Joseph Funke

 

I’m having the time of my life playing No Man’s Sky. It is the only game I’ve played for the last week. I had extremely high expectations for this game, and it reached them with ease. The kind of experience on offer here is something I’ve never had from a game before. I’m free to do almost anything I want. If I want to spend a week doing nothing but mining and selling what I find, I can do that. If I want to make a mad dash for the galactic center, I can do that. If I want to be a pirate and attack freighters for loot, I can do that. If I want to do nothing but catalogue different animal species, I can do that. That’s what defines this game, in my mind. The complete freedom to explore how you see fit. So what if I can’t find and interact with other players or battle with them for minerals and loot? That’s not what I was expecting to get from this game, anyway. I was expecting complete isolation in a galaxy that, for all I know, doesn’t even want me in it. Even though it has only been a week since release, I’m ready to call No Man’s Sky my game of the year for 2016.

-Tanner H

 

I thought I was having fun, as indicated by the amount of thought I was putting into the game while away from it. It had me stressed and mentally labored while I tried to develop better playing methods and management strategies. Now, after spending more and more time with No Man’s Sky, I’ve come to realize that it was only serving to distract me from the fact that I was not, in fact, having fun in a tradition sense. It became apparent that the tedious nature of the game was grinding on me more than I was enjoying the grind itself. This is not to say that it is not enjoyable. No Man’s Sky is one of the coolest ideas in gaming in a while. I just think that it is marred by a lack of specifically interesting tasks and quest-like strains that could carry me to the finish line. Instead, I found myself sticking to the critical path, ignoring planets and doing the bare minimum just to get by. That’s not fun, at least for me. If you enjoy fighting for survival, repeating similar tasks to progress to similar tasks, this is for you. I just wish there was more packed into the galaxy that made me feel like the character I thought I was supposed to be, not me sitting in a chair going through checklists of materials. I cannot see myself pouring hours into the game as I continue, but that’s the Catch-22. If I don’t put in the time, I don’t get very far, but if I do play it for long stretches I am plagued with the repetitive gameplay loop. To me, No Man’s Sky is the same task performed over a different backdrop that is mildly interesting in short bursts.

-Billy Arundell

Billy Arundell is OmniGamer's Reviews Editor. He has an unapologetic love for Gears of War and would rather spend his evenings with BoShek at the cantina. You can follow him on Twitter @billyarundell.

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