No Man’s Sky, from indie developer Hello Games, was released on PC via Steam on August 12, 2016 and on PS4 on August 9, 2016 for $59.99. This game is arguably the largest game ever made with a procedurally-generated universe that has something like 18 quintillion explorable planets. It is gorgeous. If you’re reading this review, you’ve probably seen the screenshots of what some of the beautiful planets look like.
The gameplay was exactly what was suggested from the developers prior to launch. The focus is on exploration. From the initial crash site, the analyzing and cataloging of flora and fauna throughout the game, and step-by-step discovering of each site on various planets, this game is centered around seeing everything there is to see. You walk around, discover new things, pick up new recipes for upgrades for your exosuit, starship, and multi-tool, and sell some of the items you find for units to build and buy upgrades.
Puzzles and Diplomacy
I really enjoyed the diplomatic and language-learning aspect of the game. Scattered throughout the planet are knowledge stones, ruins, and plaques that hold information about the alien civilization. As these stones teach you vocabulary, you can begin to understand your interactions with aliens better. This is especially instrumental in solving puzzles or taking the correct actions when you meet aliens. Correct responses are rewarded with items or reputation which, in turn, make your journey easier.
Upgrades and Inventory
A significant portion of the early game is inventory management. The initial exosuit and starship have extremely small inventories and the resources to get back to the space station to clear inventory is high. Over time, you collect exosuit upgrades to increase inventory space. You can also either trade or buy starships to increase inventory space. This is especially important as you follow the Atlas directive and get closer to the center of the universe. The closer you get, the more difficult, which necessitates upgrades to your weapons and defenses. Since these upgrades share slots with inventory, it requires careful planning to balance inventory slots with necessary upgrades.
Overall, I’m thoroughly enjoying this game. I’ve barely scratched the surface after a few long days of gameplay. I can’t wait for many more adventures in No Man’s Sky!