“As strange, hectic, and confusing as the beginning was, I started having a blast once I got the hang of things.”
Well, my copy of No Man’s Sky finally showed up yesterday evening at around 9:30, so I was able to start playing at 9:45. The few hours I had with it were rough; I had started out on a planet with highly toxic rain, so the tutorial and the first few minutes felt rushed and skimmed-over because I had to keep my eye on this toxicity timer that was rapidly draining whenever I wasn’t sitting in my defunct ship. The game never made it clear that I could recharge my suit, what the difference between life support and health is, and never gave me any hint as to what this basic loot I was getting was or what it might be used for. The only direction it did give me was the objective tracker in the bottom right that would only appear at seemingly random times and barely gave me enough information to know what I was looking for. The only way I managed to progress in as timely a manner as I did was due to my experience playing games (the “Gamer’s Intuition”) and, more specifically, the survival games I’ve been playing of late.
Shortly after I got my ship off the ground and into orbit, it was easier to see my means and my ends. I was better understanding how the game communicates with me and what the flow of the game might look like. The aliens were great to speak with and I loved whenever a word that you know flits past and you get to guess its context. The bits of text scattered throughout were intriguing, well-written and a lot of fun to read, but the story itself seemed… broken? I’m worried that I missed some text somewhere, because my character’s inner monologue started talking about all the options ahead of him and he mentioned that he could explore randomly, go follow Atlus, or go try and find these two characters whose names I hadn’t head yet before. The whole thing made it seem like I was supposed to understand who these two were and have some sort of reason to try to find them. I can’t decide on if I hope I missed anything or not; if I did, then I’m lacking an important element of the story, and if I didn’t, then the game is woefully vague and confusing. I certainly hope that changes.
Really though, as strange, hectic, and confusing as the beginning was, I started having a blast once I got the hang of things. I am entirely open to the possibility that my bad experience was a rare and unfortunate product of such a unique and proceedurally generated world, and as such I don’t want to judge the game too harshly. Discovering all these different species of flora and fauna, all these minerals, biomes, and planets… it really is an adventure, and it’s rewarding in and of itself. It feels great when I come across a new upgrade for my suit or discover a new Korvax word, and the sense of exploring the galaxy is magnificent! The game is honestly a ton of fun, even if I’m only starting to experience that, and I’m excited to play some more tonight!
See you out there, astronauts!