When you hear the word Immersion everyone’s mind jumps to things like VR.
But what does it really mean to be immersed in a game? No Man’s Sky has given us that answer with a sprawling, living universe. The sky is not the limit, nor is the limit humanly reachable in this game. So is the most expensive game ever made worth your money? Well, let’s find out. Welcome to the living, breathing worlds of No Man’s Sky, and we hope you can find something you wanted to see in this review to help you enjoy the ride.
Starting out Big
No Man’s Sky is a space survival/exploration game, designed by Hello Games, an indie studio that was supported by Sony Entertainment to help bring their dream to life. The game has faced a lot of criticism and negative attention, as well as praise through its development cycle. For starters, people are always wary of newer developers, such as the one who made No Man’s Sky and when they announced a 60 USD$ price tag it made a lot of people question the content in the game. On top of that, the studio decided they did not want to reveal many pre-release details saying that it would ruin the experience for players, and it would be better if they kept quiet until after the game’s release. With these two combined issues, it caused a lot of gamers to worry about opening their wallet to a game that was claiming to be the most expansive game ever made. Luckily, there are a few of us that are crazy enough to jump into space for you.
What do you want out of a game? Generally, it’s to escape to another world or to have fun, correct? So the first thing we need to look at is this game’s claims for an immersive world. From the first moment you start it does pull you in completely. It’s comparable to the sense of exploring the woods behind your house you had as a child. There are all types of things out in the woods and you know this so it compels you to walk through them learning about the things around. What’s making the sounds at the top of the trees, what lives in the river with all those rocks, and what do all the animals look like? That same sense is felt through every step of No Man’s Sky I have taken so far. You always crave more no matter how much ground you’ve covered or how many animals you’ve seen. You just want to find more, learn more, and catalog more species. The game quite honestly makes you drunk on exploration because it never has a cutoff point. You can wander for hours, days, months, or years and you know the new finds won’t stop coming. That alone pulls you into this wonderful state of mind where you are an explorer that is making important discoveries about this universe.
Getting the hang of things
Let’s talk about gameplay now. Does it pull you in or disturb your immersion? The Gameplay is pretty seamless with no loading scenes between planets. Everything is an open world that you can move freely in with no buffering in between. Mining for materials is simple and only involves pointing your mining gun at the material and balancing it so it won’t overheat. All the buttons for movement are mapped well and your sprint and jetpack refuel rather quickly. The movement feels very real to me and isn’t too unbelievably fast or slow when you’re out of your ship. Honestly, it’s just right for helping you grasp the size of the worlds you are exploring. You do have to use Carbon to keep your life support systems up. You need Carbon to supply your life support and Mining gun with power to keep you alive, so it’s wise to keep a supply on you for a time of need.
The downside to the mining is you start with very limited space. This does improve slowly with suit upgrades that can be bought, or found on drop pods throughout the worlds you explore. Your ship also has an inventory that you can transfer supplies to at any time by just opening your menu and hitting a button which really lessens the burden of item harvesting. The game really forces you to manage your items, so you should always go out knowing what supplies you want, and leaving a little room for treasure that you find along the way to sell. Mining material is needed to upgrade your ship and make a majority of your money. While finding planets does give you a nice bonus it will never be enough to cover all the upgrades you will need or want to buy.
Flight control feels extremely like floating, reminding you that there is, in fact, no gravity outside of the pull of planets. When driving through space you can easily turn and spin as if your ship is weightless. The blasters can be used to mine fuel from meteors when on flight so you aren’t scrambling to keep your ship going. If you don’t want to spend the money for a better ship or upgrades you can find distress beacons on planets that will lead you to repairable ships to claim as well!
Choose Your Expertise
There are a lot of things to find on the planets of No Man’s Sky. So let’s take a look at some of them to figure out what you want to do. From learning languages of alien species to being a ship hunter there is always something you can choose to do. So what do you want to hunt for?
Monoliths- Giant monoliths that give you history, items, and language of their selected race.
Knowledge Stones- Teach you the language of their selected alien race.
Ship Crash Sites- Offers you the chance to fix and own a new ship.
Planet Discovery- Explore the solar system to find, map out, and name undiscovered planets.
Entrepreneur- Become Space rich by hunting for treasure and selling it at market highs.
Ambassador- Form relations with the different alien species by completing small quests.
Space Pirate- Rule the darkness of space as a ruthless pirate.
There’s all of this and so much more to do and discover in No Man’s Sky. You can switch up at any time or just do things as you please. The game doesn’t hold you to any standards after you get off of your first planet.
Not only do you have space Pirates to worry about, No Man’s Sky is full of things trying to maim you at best. The Planets can freeze or cook you depending on their weather and setting. Hostile drones will search you out and attack you for mining from their planet. Some creatures will get hungry at the site of your space suits. Some Planets are made of Radiation that slowly poison you as you explore. Your Space Suit can’t help you breathe underwater forever so you can drown, and if all that’s not enough there are lava planets. You can even start the game on a hostile world. Always be prepared for survival because even if the weird armadillo cat you just passed ran away the kangaroo-looking creature up ahead may try to kill you. Weather can also change dramatically causing you to go into freezing or sweltering temperatures at a moment’s notice. Always take supplies to maintain your suit and no matter how beautiful it looks never let your guard down.
Imagery and Sound
This game works on an engine that takes a bunch of different textures and throws them all together each time it creates a planet. This causes a multitude of different looking plants and animals to emerge, as well as planets. Visually all the textures are very colorful and pleasing to the eye, generally, no matter how they are thrown together. The textures all mesh together seamlessly thanks to this engine creating a perfect out of this world feel to everything you see. Even if there are a few special creatures running around here and there you still appreciate just how beautifully colored and complex each new species you find is.
The soundtrack for this game is nothing short of breathtaking either. There has yet to be a moment where the music for this game did not set a perfect mood for everything I was going through at the time. Every instrument that was chosen for the soundtrack is nothing less than a perfect pick for my gameplay. On top of the wonderfully chosen music, the background noise of the creatures is haunting, and really sets in the fact that there is life in space. Even the sounds of breathing from my character and the thrusters of the ship just melt into everything perfectly. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard such a perfectly meshed mix of sounds, but this game definitely deserves every bit of praise it can get in the sound department.
Love and Space
If I had to give this game a rating it would be near perfect. The game has already overcome some of my biggest fears such as feeling lonely while playing it. I went in expecting to feel like there should have been multiplayer and instead I now feel like it’s the last thing it may need. There are very few games that can be played by yourself and feel complete, luckily this game somehow did this for me. You get so overwhelmed with all the things you can do; you really do find yourself immersed in this amazing universe and you forget that your’re not actually in it interacting with these aliens, and making these amazing discoveries throughout your adventures. Single player really is becoming a lost art in a lot of gaming and this game brings it back the way it should be, fulfilling to play on your own. Hello Games has also promised the free addition of more content so I’m very hopeful that multiplayer is on the way at some point for those that do want to experience this with friends. I believe this is going to be some of the best potentials we have seen in years. Here’s to Hello Games, No Man’s Sky and to the great future of updates they are already on the way to bringing us.
How do you feel about No Man’s Sky? Let us know about some planets you have found in the comments below!