Developed by:Hello Games Published by:Hello Games Genre(s):
  • Action Adventure
  • Survival
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:TEEN Players:1 Release date:August 9, 2016 Reviewed on:PS4

    No Man’s Sky

    No Mans Sky starts off in a crash site in a faraway galaxy. You’re introduced to this strange planet as a silent protagonist that recently regains consciousness. From there, you’ll eventually figure out that you’re required to scavenge for supplies; beyond a message from someone/something called The Atlas, there’s nothing to direct your steps. No hand holding. No tutorial. From the start No Man’s Sky treats you like an experienced gamer and immediately leaves you to fend for yourself…

    While this is a quite unorthodox way of starting a game – aside from other modern survival games of course – I can appreciate being thrown “out of the frying pan and into the fire” nature of gameplay.  As you progress through the game, motives will slowly come into focus. Unknown and mysterious “benefactors” known only as Nada and Polo, provide clues and sometimes supplies from a distance. Do they want you to find them? It could be an elaborate setup or trap? And what’s the deal with getting to the center of the universe? Only an extensive playthrough will answer these questions. Or you could just explore different planets in an effort to see as much as you can, final conclusion be damned.

    If you’re looking to “complete” the game however, there are a couple of things worth noting. Most of your time will be spent mining for resources. Each resource is broken down into a few types: isotopes, oxides and neutral. Isotopes include Carbon, Thiamine and Plutonium which are used for recharging various items and systems at your disposal. Oxides consist of Iron and Zinc among others, that are utilized mostly for synthesizing materials that can be used for upgrades. Each resource can be stored for future use or sold for units. Sources for mining include rocks, vegetation, crystals, metallic ore and assorted creatures. Resources can be found by keenly observing your surroundings and mainly using your scanner. Each planetary scan will locate and identify each resource in the immediate vicinity, allowing you to prioritize which resources to mine based on current needs. Carbon is the primary source of bartering with different life forms, so a constant supply is strongly recommended. Of course, some metals and resources are much more valuable than others and are much harder to find so adequate scanning equipment is a big must.

    Sounds a bit boring? It can be. Though the collection of these items can be tedious, actually using them can be satisfying. Being able to do more and go father creates a sense of accomplishment that is missing from other genres (which, I guess is why one would overlook the tedium of collecting stuff). Take the exosuit that your character wears. Your overall wellbeing is tied directly to it; the suit supplies you with protection from various harsh elements and with a shield for protection during combat. Life support serves as secondary protection from extreme temperatures, toxic environments and an oxygen supply for swimming underwater. Your exosuit is also equipped with a jetpack, capable of limited flight to reach high places and landing safely from high altitudes. The suit also has limited inventory slots that you can store valuable supplies and items. A cool feature dealing with item storage is the ability to transfer them from your exosuit to your starship and vice versa. Of course, your starship needs to be in range, so it’s always a good idea to keep it close by in case you need to utilize it. Slots are upgraded by locating upgrades scattered throughout the game for a small fee. Additional technology improves shield strength, resilience to toxic environments and better jet propulsion for the pack.

    Each upgrade or new piece of equipment for your suit increases your ability to survive. The same can be said of the multi tool. Like the name implies, it functions as an intergalactic Swiss Army Knife. It can go from a scanner, to a mining tool, to a blaster in mere moments. Both the mining laser and weapons system need charging separately, so a constant stock of isotopes is imperative for survival. During your journey you will come across benches with upgraded multi tools that you have the option of buying. Each newer tool will have a few more slots or less slots with powerful tech already installed and will vary in design, often times resembling pistols and assault rifles. Different sites also feature download kiosk for you to discover new tech schematics that you can install yourself. New schematics range from mining beam strength, mining beam cooling rates, grenade launchers, ammo clip capacity, increased scanner range and different types of weapon layouts. The multi tool in general is a very well thought out and I honestly can’t think of any complaints in regards to how it’s executed.

    Combat is brief and typically only occurs when sentinels or creatures attack you. Periodically, you’ll also get to engage opposing starships flying above planets. Engaging enemies isn’t as fun as it could be. Thankfully, it feels natural considering the primary focus of No Man’s Sky is exploration/resource gathering. Everything from plants, animals, camps, outpost and planets can be discovered while wondering about. Each discovery yields a different amount of units, further pushing and encouraging exploration. Extensive exploration is the only way to ensure you don’t miss key elements, find needed upgrades and progress through the game. One thing I enjoyed was blasting off into outer space. As the game progresses, you’ll gain access to tech that allows your ship to jump to far away galaxies and to new discoveries. Starting to see a trend?

    There are a lot of little things going on in No Man’s Sky. An interesting aspect is the interactions with different alien NPCs. There are a handful of species, each with its own unique dialect to decipher in hopes of gaining their trust. This is achieved through monolith discoveries and learning new words through conversations with these NPC’s. If you don’t know the words, you don’t know what that particular creature wants and if you don’t know that, you won’t be able to pick the correct answer when speaking to them. Picking the wrong answer won’t produce any items or new recipes needed to progress through the game. Obviously, answering correctly will produce good results like gifts and/or increase your standing with that particular race. The only down side is that you can’t redo the initial meeting – you can still better your relationship with that species but you may miss out on certain gifts.  Looking back, that’s how it should be though as it drives home the need to learn the different languages. Think twice and answer once.

    Graphically, No Man’s Sky has a very distinct look thanks to the well-known Havok engine. Planets come to life in great detail, showcasing the imagination of the creative team. Thanks to their creative imagery, each planet has very unique qualities and distinct characteristics. For example, some planets are uninhabitable without an exosuit due to either extreme temperatures or toxicity and the color pallets utilized for textures used convey that perfectly. Out of this world vegetation and creatures litter planetary surfaces in addition to outpost and camps. Weather effects move along throughout the day and different atmospheric hazards are created based on the time of day. Alien races speak in their respective language in animated fashion. The only graphical issues are the occasional clipping and the draw in distances for objects on planet surfaces. It’s nothing deal breaking by any means; the frame rate is solid, even when zipping through space at light speed.

    The musical score consist of somber melodies and symphonic notes, keeping you in a calm state during your lonely travels. No Man’s Sky is not an action, suspense or horror game and the pulse of the music is indicative of this at every turn. To be specific, the music is slower than the usual musical score and noticeably faster than elevator music. This along with the survival gameplay mechanics nail and lack of multiplayer (more on that later) perfectly nails the feeling of solitude.

    Literally being you against the universe, it forces you to exercise patience and thoroughness as you scour each planet for clues, resources, market place hubs, new multi tools, recipes and tech schematics. It’s the opposite of a horror survival game, whereas the good games would give you an impending sense of doom, this is the exact opposite. While there’s no impending doom, there is a great deal of uncertainty. You always have an objective but there is no waypoint or true direction and that is the true essence of No Man’s Sky for me. You are a wanderer on a great journey but with no clear path, allowing you to take as long as you want as you visit planet after planet. It’s unlike any game I have ever played. I’m also no completionist by any means as I normally never do side quest or extra missions. So saying that I enjoyed doing all the little things as opposed to flying directly to the center of the universe is a big deal for me.

    Going back to the multiplayer aspects, the only form I’ve seen was the social aspect. You can’t explore with anyone but any discoveries you make can be shared with people; you can actually visit planets they’ve found and subsequently named.  While it steps out of the norm for games this day and age, I can definitely appreciate the different approach and honestly, it’s very appropriate for this kind of game – even if we were promised that it was possible to run into someone out in the cosmos.

    The scope of No Mans Sky is, to say the least, incredible. The sheer amount of discoveries you can make from planets and galaxies is baffling. Hello Games had an ambitious vision that comes to life in risky fashion. I am fairly certain that I do not stand alone when I say that I am looking forward to what comes next from this developer!



    “Boldly go,” and “to infinity and beyond.” You can finally use both of those together, organically.



    Clean and entrancing – even with the minor hiccups.



    A somber score, it fits No Man's Sky well.

    Replay Value:


    Even without true multiplayer, there is a ton to do in this game and it doesn't feel too repetitive. Leave no stone unturned.

    Final Score:


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