NO MAN’S SKY

All the world’s a stage

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased out now! Re­viewed on Ps4 Also on PC Pub­lisher Hello Games

There are 18 quin­til­lion full-sized plan­ets in this pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated space ad­ven­ture, and if some­one dis­cov­ered a new one ev­ery hour from birth un­til death they would only find 718,320 of them. It’s big, is what we’re say­ing, but more im­por­tant than the im­pres­sive stats and all-con­sum­ing scale is how No Man’s Sky plays. You start on a ran­dom planet amid ship wreck­age, with the aim to gather re­sources so you can blast off and be­gin a grand in­ter­stel­lar ex­plo­ration. The goal? Reach the centre of a star-stuffed uni­verse.

You mine el­e­ments, fuel your en­gines, warp to the near­est star, and re­peat the process a few light years away, but what staves off rep­e­ti­tion is never know­ing what to ex­pect. Rock for­ma­tions, weather pat­terns, sound­scapes, fun­gus, the length of the grass and the colour of the sky – all of it is de­cided by cold, hard maths, which means your story is your own. We’ve seen worlds of end­less blue oceans; hon­ey­comb cave sys­tems con­tain­ing tow­er­ing crys­talline trea­sures; vast ridges of feath­ered red coral. Each planet has a story to sniff out, like an alien war­rior at­tempt­ing to blow the hinges off a vault and de­mand­ing you hand him a com­bustible stim­u­lant, or a cy­borg doc­tor at­tempt­ing to in­ject you with mys­te­ri­ous green goo.

It sounds un­grate­ful to com­plain about a game with enough con­tent to last be­yond the heat death of the so­lar sys­tem, but that’s the root prob­lem, as new sights and sounds quickly boil down to vari­a­tions on a theme. There’s al­ways a lone alien trader on a sta­tion. Al­ways a shel­ter con­tain­ing a multi-tool blue­print. Stretched across a game this size, that starts to make less and less sense. These nig­gles set­tle in af­ter a healthy chunk of time in the com­pany of great­ness, how­ever. When the gleam does start to fade, you’ll al­ready have en­coun­tered fas­ci­nat­ing beasts on strange worlds, charged through lu­mi­nous pink at­mos­pheres, and won mind games with tele­pathic par­a­sites. In­deed, No Man’s Sky is an as­tound­ing achieve­ment, a tech­no­log­i­cal tri­umph fash­ion­ing num­bers into art. As a £40 game, though? You’ll strug­gle to shake the creep­ing feel­ing some­thing’s miss­ing as your imag­i­na­tion fills in the blanks. Ben Grif­fin

Quickly boils down to vari­a­tions on a theme

Hello Games cre­ated a math­e­mat­i­cal for­mula to de­sign the weird and won­der­ful crea­tures for the game.

Don’t like this world? Choose an­other. And an­other. And an­other…

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