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No Man’s Sky review: A game for explorers of the universe

Exploration in

Exploration in "No Man's Sky" may lead you find dinosaurlike wildlife. Credit: Hello Games

PLOT Journey to the center of the universe.

RATED T for Teen

DETAILS PlayStation 4, PC; $59.99

BOTTOM LINE Lovely to look at, but action lovers will be bored.

Asteroids glisten. Marauders, perhaps, hover in the distance. Where to go? What to see? What to do?

The greatest fault and the greatest achievement of the new game No Man’s Sky is that it only partly answers these questions.

The game essentially has no story. There’s a vague quest prodding the player to get to the center of the universe, but there’s no need to heed it. This is exploration for exploration’s sake, an argument that games should transport us to another world and let us write our own stories.

If you really want combat, No Man’s Sky will allow you to battle robot forces and space pirates. The former protect the galaxy’s animal life and fauna, but you most likely will die attempting to take them on. You can spend the entirety of your time with the game upgrading weapons to make combat more rewarding, but doing so means you’re ultimately taking innocent life.

Instead, as with the games Journey, Firewatch and Abzu, No Man’s Sky promises near free-form wandering; sometimes a question mark will appear on the screen. What’s there? Walk 10 minutes and find out. Sometimes, as in the classic 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” there will be a giant alien monolith. Maybe this monolith will present you some keys to an alien language. Other times, a monolith may offer an apparition and ask the player a moral question. Mostly, though, you will wonder why you just walked for 10 minutes to find said monolith.

The look of No Man’s Sky is brilliant. It’s bright and optimistic. Caves with twinkling red plants beckon. Occasionally, a dinosaurlike figure will cross the screen. If you believe games should have goals and objectives, No Man’s Sky doesn’t care for such things. The game cares most for pure beauty.


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