One brilliant thing has come out of No Man’s Sky: the glorious cinematic soundtrack by 65daysofstatic.
It’s great for writing to. Buy it.
The game itself, on the other hand, is even more disappointing than I’d feared. The ‘procedurally generated’ worlds of No Man’s Sky offer 18 trillion pretty but meaningless backgrounds for nothing much at all to happen across.
You encounter animals clearly assembled from a stock base of body parts and behaviors, and you can feed them, but you can’t tame a herd or make a friend to take it exploring with you across the galaxies. The worlds are visually interesting, but they’re not designed on a human scale. There’s no tiny intimate secrets to be uncovered. No carefully crafted moments of visual gorgeousness so sublime they take my breath away, a la Far Cry 3.
There’s a lot of player reviews of No Man’s Sky which are far more enthusiastic (the critics, not so much), so I’m willing to accept it’s me, not the game. But look at this landscape. Isn’t it fascinating? Tree roots, or geologic formations? What’s the ecosystem that has evolved around these?
To the game, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is shooting shit into glassine fragments, harvesting the elements for a half-dozen different kinds of fuel, and moving on to the next planet, the next satellite station, the next trader, the next – faster – ship, over and over and over again.
Like The Jimquisition says, “No Man’s Sky effectively portrays the loneliness of space by providing so little for the player to do that it’s tempting to flush one’s self out of an airlock just to break the tedium.”
The ending is Sisyphean.
Technically, the game is a great feat. In effect it’s an indie game, and kudos to Hello Games for taking such a huge step forward. The thing about first steps? They’re unsteady and do no more than move us from point A to point B. The games to come, that build on this, will be amazing. Imagine an MMO with billions of world (trillions is too many), where you can encounter anyone – a microcosm of the internet itself. Image a world colonized by Reddit, the m/m romance world (speedos compulsory), or a planet that is just yours and yours alone, to explore over a virtual lifetime. It will happen, and Hello Games will have helped take us there, and I’m already grateful to them for that.
Yeah, that music, though. I’ll be listening to it all day.