After over a month since its initial release I still haven’t beaten No Man’s Sky, the universe-trekking exploration game that tasks players with making their way through near infinite unique worlds, inhabited with their own unique flora and fauna.
No Man’s Sky was pretty immediately bashed for not being particularly substantive, which can be hard to argue. Despite boasting a reported 18 quintillion plus planets to explore, the things you do on whilst exploring those innumerable worlds are entirely identical from planet to planet, on top of being pretty mundane. Mine for minerals, walk to checkpoints, discover new plants and animals that will either attack or ignore you. It doesn’t take long for the onus of entertainment in No Man’s Sky to fall on the player.
Which is how I discovered that No Man’s Sky doubles as a hauntingly accurate, guilt free bullying simulation. As detailed in a previous post, I kept myself entertained for countless hours discovering one functionally-deplorable creature after another and, as is my right as No Man’s Sky’s space-faring colonialist megalomaniac, naming them whatever I want for all of eternity. Bipedal wolves with no elbows, hulking cows with gorilla arms and dainty little deer legs, running coat hangers with bird beaks, none of them fared well under my bullying gaze. Deep in their genetic roots perhaps these creatures had some primordial identity, but to me (and now to the entire universe of anyone who might ever discover them) they’re “Whoops” Said Something Omnipotent, or THX 4 PLAYING I GUESS, or Something Ugly With a Case of Something Bad.
And that’s okay, because they’re not real. I’m allowed to bully them. They aren’t gonna do anything about it.
And therein lies the aforementioned haunting accuracy of the bully simulator No Man’s Sky’s shortcomings forced me to make it.
People who aren’t currently being bullied say you’re supposed to deal with a bully like you deal with a bear attack – you just kind of ignore it and they’ll eventually stop, the idea being that a bully bullies to get a reaction. It’s a sentiment I always figured was sappy, Chicken Soup for the Soul nonsense. An old wives’ tale at best.
And then, long hours into my intergalactic reign of nominal terror, I saw a very, very dumb looking Toucan monster, went to name it and thought “eh, what’s the point?”
And I haven’t picked up No Man’s Sky since.
In the sprawling universe of No Man’s Sky bullying eventually proved to be just too much work, for pretty much zero payoff, which is pretty indicative of the game as a whole.
You mine resources and discover new locations so that you can craft and buy enough items to get to the next planet and… mine resources and discover new locations. The payoff for your efforts in No Man’s Sky is essentially an opportunity to revisit the setup. If No Man’s Sky were a joke it would be “Why did the chicken cross the road? Why did the chicken cross the road?”
I had hours and hours of fun contemplating why that chicken crossed that road, but eventually, just as all the initial reviews of No Man’s Sky that I was so intent on not taking to heart insisted, it just got old.
Maybe if I could just shout names at the screen instead of having to type them out with a PS4 controller?
As I said, I haven’t beaten No Man’s Sky yet, so consider this less a final verdict on the game than a second impression for which no follow-up is currently planned or ever intended. And what is that second impression?
No Man’s Sky is precisely as fun as being a bully.