What is the Point of No Man’s Sky?
No Man’s Sky is a video game created by Hello Games back in 2016. And although many gamers consider it an action/adventure, or a sandbox game, for me it is primarily a survival and exploration game.
Furthermore, No Man’s Sky is a science fiction fan’s dream come true.
In effect, you can tell this game was created by true fans by small details such as, whenever your character dies, your “death” screen always shows a quote by a famous author.
And since I die so often, I got Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Herbert, Bradbury, Vonnegut, and Banks so far. (Maybe I should play on relax mode).
Back when No Man’s Sky launched, the point of No Man’s Sky was to reach the center of the galaxy (such a cliché but you wanted to find out what was so special).
Confession: I bought the game on day one because my friend Dan hyped it up so much (not that I wasn’t already hyped). Indeed, there was so much hype surrounding this game. We thought we will finally live up to all our all fandom wishes in video game form.
A procedurally generated galaxy full of planets you could visit, all different, all full of alien life…
Except, after playing it all weekend and dying constantly in the first mission, only to finally escape your initial planet, you found there was not much to do, and you became bored.
The hype did not live up to the execution. I stopped playing.
Except recently, I did something I don’t normally do out of principle. I double-dipped. Yes, I bought the game again for Nintendo Switch. Why? What changed?
One thing that did not change is how visually arresting the art direction is. This universe is beautiful. Even its most desolate and dangerous planets are gorgeous to look at.
Hello Games Eventually Delivered
The release of No Man’s Sky resembles the release of another overhyped video game, Cyberpunk 2077, another game I bought on day one that failed to live up to the pre-release hype.
The difference is that Hello Games did not give up on the game and its dedicated fan base.
Because a small group of fans kept playing and exploring that universe. We were in love with the concept of No Man’s Sky. And Hello Games eventually delivered through a series of updates on all those pre-release promises.
No Man’s Sky 2022 does not look like No Man’s Sky 2016.
Oh, the game’s opening planet, a tutorial, is still annoying (did I land on the only planet full of carbon and oxygen but zero sodium and highly poisonous?). But once you get past Awakenings… Wow.
You can pet the fauna, you can build a home base, it is now multiplayer, and crossplay, and there is a survival mode (and, gulp, a permadeath option). Frightening.
Some animals and plants will attack you. Space pirates will attack you (often), and your oxygen depletes fast and you take toxic damage seemingly by just walking. Can you survive?
Combat is better and you can recruit squadrons, or you can collect fossils, buy a spaceship, or better yet, a Void ship (which is sentient) and visit space stations.
Moreover, there are expeditions full of amazing rewards you cannot get in the regular game. How cool is that? Like we need reasons to keep returning. Did I mention the VR mode?
And did I mention you can even get a robot pet? Adorable. And yet, many people just play to build stuff and show off their creativity.
But There is Something at the Center of the Galaxy
Granted, you can play the game forever, exploring the whole universe, visiting every corner, and building and buying cool stuff. Kind of like Minecraft in space.
But open and sandbox games are not my thing. I like games with structure and a narrative. Fortunately, No Man’s Sky delivers this.
Spoiler Alert: There is something at the center of the galaxy. It will take you dozens of hours, if not weeks to reach.
Second spoiler alert: the answer to the mystery at the center of the galaxy is quite meta. And you the player have a semi-important decision to make, one with repercussions.
Your answer will determine how would you continue playing the game once the main plot is over. Without spoilers, it takes inspiration from the Matrix and it touches on themes of continuity and rebirth.
What should not be a spoiler is that Hello Games made No Man’s Sky better. And although my PS 4 version is better looking than my Switch Lite, the latter is portable and looks astounding.
There is a lesson here: you cannot live up to overhype but hard work will and dedication will make fans of naysayers.
I highly recommend this game to all science fiction fans who love to explore the galaxy vicariously through characters, now they can be the intrepid astronaut themselves.
No Man’s Sky in 2022 is a stronger, better game than when it debuted. It would be my game of the year if it was not a game from six years ago. Still, this is my second most-played game of 2022.
Buy it, play it, reach the center of the galaxy–and choose wisely.
Reader, have you played No Man’s Sky? What is your favorite feature? Or your weirdest discovery? Share in the comments.