No Man’s Sky sounded, right from the start, ambitious beyond all hope of success. Procedurally generated planets and aliens? Quintillions of worlds? How was any of this even going to work? And, yet, it does, quite beautifully. Although what it gains in breadth may not make up for its lack of depth for some.
No Man’s Sky (PS4, Available August 12th on PC)
This game’s not going to blow out your processor, but it does look good. Everything, from your starting ship to the score you hear, is generated procedurally, so the game essentially takes a set of parts and constantly reassembles them into a new look. It’s not cutting edge and the game has a few technical issues here and there, like the landscape regenerating on the fly. Still, it’s got bigger things on its mind, and that’s mostly when you’re flying around in your ship.
With audio, you’ve got a serene, unobtrusive soundtrack from 65daysofstatic that tends to shift subtly wherever you go. The game is, overall, oddly relaxing to play, and you might find yourself losing track of time as you poke around.
The real innovation here is the procedural generation. Most of the games’ mechanics, from first-person shooting and dogfighting to resource hunting and crafting, you’ll have played before. None of them are particularly deep; for example, with your weapon, you don’t have any iron sights at first, although those could be out there. But they’re all well-executed, and easy to play, which is perhaps the most important.
Do you like poking around and finding stuff? Then Hello Games has made the ultimate game for you. No Man’s Sky is a mishmash of a lot of games; you mine resources and craft using a system similar to Minecraft; dying leaves behind some resources you can collect like in Dark Souls; the dogfighting is straight out of old-school Lucasarts games like Rogue Squadron; the lifeform cataloguing system feels quite a bit like Pokémon Snap; the survival mechanics are fairly common, and so on.