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No Man's Sky PlayStation 4 Review: Spaced Out

By: Derek Strickland | Adventure in Gaming | Posted: Aug 19, 2016 3:40 pm
TweakTown Rating: 75%Developer and / or Publisher: x

No Man's Sky is oddly soothing and cathartic

 

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Despite all the frustrations that can occur with annoying inventory management and constant resource mining, the game can be immensely soothing. The facade of freedom isn't responsible for this feeling--you are free to determine how you spend your time, to an extent, even if it's limited--but the simple joy of getting lost.

 

 

You see, No Man's Sky might be a game built on so-called "discovery," but it's really about getting lost. The game teaches you to go with the flow of the cosmos and not to fight the whims of the Great Magnet (what fools we were to think we could defy it). Can't buy an exosuit upgrade? Pass it up. Don't have enough mats to keep landing everywhere? No worries, you'll always find more outposts. Soon you stop caring about specific things because it feels better not to, and that's usually the sign of a bad game.

 

This kind of lazy attitude permeates the game in such a way that makes you feel at ease, but at the same time, it works against you and punishes you. For example, you can't afford to be lazy about vital resources like Oxides for your Hazard Protection Suit, or Isotopes for your Life Support System.

 

It's a strange dichotomy that shows No Man's Sky is built on a twisting webwork of things that both conflict and synergize with one another. It's rather fascinating, to be honest. The game is both its own best friend and its own worst enemy, and it clashes with itself and harmonizes at whim.

 

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"I had the ambition to not only go farther than man had gone before, but to go as far as it was possible to go." -- Captain Cook

 

But honestly, firing up No Man's Sky after a tough day's work can be a treat. There's something mesmerizing about drifting in the vibrant nebulae-ridden cosmos and listening to the eerily beautiful and haunting electronic symphony of the game's soundtrack.

 

There's a beauty in its isolation, too: being alone with nothing but a giant alien planet to keep you company. It's oddly comforting to break away from the hustle and bustle of our lives and step into the shoes of an interstellar astronaut and roam the galaxy.

 

This is really how you enjoy No Man's Sky.

 

You have to look past the grinding, look past the sameness of the universe, and be willing to tune yourself to a different frequency: the frequency of the lonely stars. You have to be able to disconnect and drift, care-free, and just admire. You have to let go and give in, to stop fighting it and swim across the waters of celestial wonder.

 

There's a truly intimate feeling in discovering a planet that no one will likely ever see but you. To watch a sun set across an irradiated emerald sky, knowing that someone out there is probably looking up at the stars and seeing the very planet you're standing on. But they'll never be here. This is your planet. This is your game, your journey.

 

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"It's human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand. Exploration is not a choice, really; it's an imperative." -- Michael Collins

 

Don't look too close, or you'll break the illusion. It's like a good magic trick: you know it's fake, but you don't care. You want to believe. That's how you enjoy No Man's Sky.

 

You have to want to believe in the universe around you, want to invest yourself. You have to be willing to imagine yourself being there the same way you imagined yourself stepping into those old retro copies of Amazing Stories and even The Twilight Zone. The only difference here is that there isn't a distinct payoff, more of a slow, long-term drip-feed of feels.

 

Last but not least, you have to be willing to look past the game's many flaws to enjoy it. You don't have to ignore them, perse, but you do have to be willing to look beyond them, to look in its layers and be okay with the things that are missing and incomplete.

 

It's a hard thing to do for any extended period of time. I certainly can't, and I think that's why so many people have mixed feelings about the game.

 

Beyond anything else, what you do in No Man's Sky is see. To fully enjoy the game, you have to want to see what's out there. That's the drive, the motivator. What you see isn't necessarily in your control, but how you see it certainly is.

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