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Game Review: No Man’s Sky – Does It Deserve the Hate?

No Man’s Sky jumped into my life at the perfect time. My partner had flown out the previous day and I had been feeling a little lonely. NMS fed into those feelings, slotting in perfectly with my state of mind at the time. Already feeling slightly isolated, I could immediately relate to how the character must be feeling, alone in the vastness of space.

I’ll admit to going into NMS with incredibly low expectations, having watched hours of ‘No Man’s Sky’s Developers Lied To Us’ videos on Youtube. I tried to put that aside and really give it a chance, and for the most part, I’m glad I did.

It begins with (you) an unnamed and unexplained shipwrecked character waking up from what appeared to be an emergency landing. After spending the first moments appreciating the luxuriant purple trees, strangely indifferent fauna and incredible soundtrack I began to cut into the resources generously scattered over the area near my damaged ship. What you’re not told is that you should avoid being overly greedy when mining for resources. Sentry bots keep an unrelenting eye on your avarice. Take a gram more than they deem appropriate and they’ll respond with the appropriate force, by trying to kill you. Unaware of this radical robotic environmental group, I began completely annihilating the area, cleaning it of anything remotely valuable. I quickly found myself involved in a firefight I was ill prepared for, resulting in my death. Confused and humbled I mined more conservatively from then on.  

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I eventually got what I needed from a nearby cave, which also served as a haven from the lethal radiation present above ground. With my meager starship repaired I made my way into the depths of space. Four massive freighters jumped in as I exited the atmosphere, giving me one hell of a scare and forcing me to take a crash course in starship evasive maneuvers.

Having taken the step to leave the confines of my ‘starting planet’ NMS encouraged me to name all the systems and planets I discovered with currency as a reward for my ‘genius’. Never having any idea what to name things in games I decided to name my planets after two items in the room I was in. This resulted in my planets being named ‘Gandalf’s Jockeys’, ‘Mermaid Grenade’ and one named simply as ‘Gaaaarchomp’ (I had stopped caring at that point).

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I spent the next couple of hours finding the correct resources and blueprints necessary for intersystem travel. With that done, I warped to the next system and found more of the same: gather resources, talk to a static and disinterested alien, create a warp module and warp out. Rinse and repeat.

At that point I felt like I had experienced most, if not all NMS had to offer, and I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I felt like I had spent those three hours wisely, but investing any more time would’ve been a waste. For me NMS was a summer fling, an experience to look back fondly on, not something to get into a lengthy off-and-on relationship with. Sometimes it’s better to know when to call it quits and move on, and I’m glad I did this with NMS.

Is it worth the full retail price? No. Does it deserve the scorn it’s getting online? Probably. Will anybody be playing it in a year? I doubt it. Will another player find and land on Gandalf’s Jockeys? God I hope so.