No Man’s Sky is an Introvert’s Game

According to Steam, I have played for 36 hours since the game came out. I’ve got my Atlas Pass v1. I’ve only jumped a few systems so far. I’m still using the Omega bonus ship. I’ve installed about a dozen mods.

That’s the sad part. That I like the game. I’m enjoying it. But I can’t deny all the complaints. I know exactly what they’re talking about. I can feel it too to a degree. And I’ve installed those mods to breathe a bit more life into it, still hopeful that the devs will add more content in the future.

And after thinking about it, for just a few hours (not 36), I think No Man’s Sky is an introvert’s game. It’s not about a glorious adventure through the stars where you team up with your friends to take out pirates, track down Alosaurus size fauna, run and blast sentinels while doing… I don’t know what.

No Man’s Sky is chill. It’s slow. It’s relaxed. It’s existential.

Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of players out there. Every planet has hundreds of stations with about 4 out of 10 containing an alien. And the stations have an alien. And every ship has an alien. A single alien. Alone, sitting in solitary, interacting through barely understandable dialect and sometimes through a counter or even a view screen. And you’re there too, jumping from planet to planet, in your tiny ship. All alone.

And the universe is proc-genned. It doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t care about what you think is fair or just or even or truly random. It does what it does. It’s not our galaxy. It’s No Man’s Sky’s galaxy. And it’s weird, yes, I know. And what happened to the three big races, the ones from the ruins we keep finding? They were great once. Everything was great once. Then something happened. And now everyone is alone and weak and almost biting at you for a few units, some radioactive isotopes or just a piece of advice.

This is not an extrovert’s game. This is not a run ‘n gun, shoot ’em up, 5 minute match thrill of a game. This is slow. This is dark. This is Goth. Mention one sky squid and it’s practically Lovecraftian. It’s a game that almost laughs in the face of the premise that a game’s primary function is to deliver enjoyment to its player.

I’m not saying it’s perfect. It’s not. Far from it. It’s a great show of force. It’s a great platform with a lot of potential for things to come. It’s wide and shallow…

…and I love it as it is and as it will turn out to be.

Posted in Art, Gaming, Humanity, Philosophy, Practice, Thinking Out Loud by with 4 comments.

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