No Man’s Sky had a very bad year last year. It ended up garnering the top spot for “Most Disappointing Game” on lots of game of the year lists. A quick google search will explain what went wrong. A small indie company with a great idea for a game which was picked up by a larger gaming company. When the gaming community as a whole found out about the concept for the game, their imaginations went wild. A storm of expectations followed and when the game came out it did not live up to the hype. Some individuals felt that the trailers that were shown to them were outright lies compared to the game that was delivered. There are lots of articles out there on the causes of the disappointment, including a particularly good one where the writer pointed out that the biggest disappointment is that with the game falling so far short of expectations it becomes all that much harder for a large game company to take a risk on a new style of gameplay or on an indie company. And believe me when I say that is bad. It’s hard to find the new and creative in a market that is built so solidly on games that are vetted and styles that are known to sell well. I mean who would take a risk on a Katamari style game when they could just produce another shooter and rake in the money.
We bought No Man’s Sky for one of our kids for Christmas. I was looking for a game that fit his interests and his style of gameplay. We checked the reviews for the game and saw the mediocre scores and we asked one of our trusted Gamestop managers (we have two) what her thoughts on the game were. The game reads as space exploration. Which seemed to hit the nail on the head for a kid who likes science and, well, exploration. This is a kid who wants to complete everything on a level. Giving him a game where he can infinitely search and there is always more to discover, with the added bonus of science, really seemed like a win. The manager we were talking with confirmed that there were some hiccups when the game came out, but the company seemed responsive and there was already a patch for the game to help make up for some of the initial concerns. So we brought it home.
I think that it helps that we really had no expectations for the game. We didn’t expect it to be something grand and unattainable. We weren’t expecting an action adventure. We didn’t really care if he met and communicated with other explorers in the game, at least not to start. We thought it would be cool if he could explore to his heart’s content. And really, this is what he got. The algorithms that make up the game, so far, have not had a whole lot of variation in terms of what each planet looks like or what the creatures on each planet looks like, but he’s been having fun harvesting plutonium and carbon and various other items to repair his ship and build his space station. It’s very zen. And for him (and me – I got to have an account, too) it’s engaging and enjoyable.
So here it is. I recommend the game. I think it’s fun and so does boyo number 1. If you have a kid who likes space or exploration or even just science, I would give it a shot. Be prepared for a calmer gaming experience. There is danger from the risk of the wildlife and hostile ships killing your character, but for the most part it’s harvest, mine, build, walk, discover, walk some more, fly through space, “Ooo look a new planet! I shall claim it for my own.”