So this game has been a curiosity for me that didn’t seem like it was possible. It sounded like one of those much-maligned Kickstarter vaporware schemes. But lo and behold, it formed from vapor to solid. Not only that, it’s a thing that’s becoming reality to my PS4, which gives it a strange sense of permanence to me somehow.
It’s easy for people to think it’s not possible – a videogame where the point is to dart seamlessly from planet to planet and map out the wider galaxy? Sounds like the ramblings of Peter Molyneux after looking directly at the Elder Scrolls. But now that we’re coming to a release, there’s still grumblings about whether it’s “an actual game” or not. Which got me thinking…
I should mention that a game where all you do is boink around from planet to planet and walk is just fine by me, especially if it captures what I’m calling “The Myst Feeling”. Basically, after having beaten the very first Myst, I was granted the ability to walk around the dreamscapes and just…take it all in. The sights, the sounds, the whole ambiance. It was one of the biggest rewards in gaming for me then.
So, after having watched several videos of both the game being demo’d as well as the game being played live, I have a very strong feeling that No Man’s Sky will hit those notes for me. Being able to land on a surface, hop out and take a look around is pretty much amazing for me.
The fact that there’s more to do while on a surface is a little more icing. The environment or the creatures are all things one has to be prepared for, and being able to communicate with the locals by virtue of exploration sounds excellent. The collection of resources for crafting and the ability to find ships from other peoples is awesome sounding…
…but is it really? How involved will all of these end up being? Is walking around the surface of so many planets going to become really trite and boring? Basically, is this going to turn in to Spore?
Specifically, the Space Stage of Spore. The final stage of your personal civilization. Nevermind that I had more fun in this mode creating a bunch of spaceships for my race than actually playing the Space Stage, but that sort of had the same idea – exploring the universe, checking out proceduraly generated planets, picking up resources and making friends…there’s some divergence in both tech, systems and some game mechanics, but brass tacks they kind of are about the same. And the Space Stage of Spore was boring as hell.
Having to manage relationships with other spacefaring races was the first and biggest annoyance for me in this stage of Spore, but the worst part was the fact that it all felt like busywork. Exploring was tedious, terraforming was an annoying minigame, setting up trade felt less like forming relationships and more like a crap shoot, trade routes had no autonomy whatsoever. But even if I were to remove all of those annoyances, all I’d have would be a star map and slightly different vistas to look at. Which is even more boring.
So there’s concern that No Man’s Sky will kind of twang those same strings – that sense of samey-ness despite the locations being slightly divergent, or that the exploration and discovery and gathering will become busywork or routine or just boring. Maybe the races that I run in to will all end up being different in the Star Trek way, in that they’re basically humans with erroneous makeup pieces slapped on them.
I mean, this game looks pretty, the tech is an absolute achievement and there does seem to be more things to look at. But how often will these things repeat after a while? I mean, there are A LOT of planets to find, but will it all just be different paint jobs on the same row houses, so to speak?
Ultimately, I don’t think I can really know without playing, and that’s perhaps the thing that still keeps me wanting to play. If this game ends up being Myst or Spore, whether it all really comes together in a way that grips me is something that I feel like I can only know unless I get in there. I’ve paid for potential before, and have been both delighted and let down, so the cost isn’t something I’m taking to consideration here – it’s something I’ll already budget for.It’s just something I have to explore for myself.
Either way, I’m willing to give it a shot, because a game like this is worth putting money down for. It’s an idea that needs to be supported, and something that I hope creates a platform for others to create on. If this game’s tech launches a bunch of other amazing games, then No Man’s Sky will be worth it for gaming. And if this game gives me something to escape in to for a little bit to just explore horizons, then it’ll be worth it for me.