I know what you’re thinking already:why should I care why this ten a penny glorified blogger can’t review No Man’s Sky? I have no idea, but hey, what else could you be doing right now?
No Man’s Sky was a game I was eagerly looking forward to. Sure, I didn’t become obsessed with every vowel Sean Murray would tweet or habitually rewatch all of its trailers, but the idea of the game struck a chord with me like few others have done in my two decades of gaming.
And then it launched following a couple of bumps along the way, online freakouts by its fanatics aplenty. The hype train had arrived at its last stop. Early signs were very promising.
The first two hours of No Man’s Sky should be crystallised, a reminder to some that this is what you can accomplish if you have enough passion and dedication to complete an impossible dream. Travelling around my first planet, stopping every couple of seconds to look at its weird and wonderful inhabitants, was an eye-opening experience. I was an adventurer and this was my universe to explore.
The rot set in pretty soon after that. After venturing to a few planets in the same system, I took the brave step of warping elsewhere, hoping that this nagging sensation of over-familiarity would go away. The resource mining and lethargic exploration had started to grate, so I hoped making more of a tiny dent in a few more of the quintillion planets wouldn’t result in the same thing. It did. And for the next system. And the one after that and so on, until I racked up ten hours with the game. It was at about this time that I wrote up my concerns on No Man’s Sky in which I promised to rack up another 15 hours before I gave it a proper review.
I played another five hours over the following week and haven’t been back to it in a few days. There is nothing pulling me back.
Here’s the thing: I could either compromise on my initial aim and write a review based on my fifteen hours spent with it so far, but then it wouldn’t be especially fair to No Man’s Sky. I can’t base all of my opinions on such a Jekyll and Hyde of a game when I can’t muster up enough playtime to give it a fully-rounded critique.
There’s also been such a swirling tornado of negativity surrounding the game that I have found hard to avoid getting swept up by. Once someone points out all of its misleading marketing, the fact that it has a fondness for crashing once an hour, and that most of the planets are reskinned templates of each other, it is difficult to avoid drawing the same conclusions.
If I were to review No Man’s Sky now, it would be a confusing mess of conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, it’s hard not to applaud the scale and innovation from an indie studio, but then you have to bear in mind that it probably isn’t even an indie game at all. I can’t decide whether I like or hate the game, even after fifteen hours of gameplay, but I don’t feel at all compelled to go back and play it thoroughly.
One thing Sean Murray said (that is actually true, shock horror) is that No Man’s Sky is a “chill game”. When it works, it is certainly that – it’s not a game that I can sit down and tank through ten hours of, enough to write up a review within the next few months. Instead, No Man’s Sky is something that I am going to return to when my brain feels like it’s frying.
No Man’s Sky is the weirdest, most subjective game I think I have ever played. It is what you make of it, and that’s why I can’t review it. I simply cannot decide.
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