It’s unusual for me to take much interest in anything with so much hype, but I thought I must make an exception for No Man’s Sky, a game which brings together two things I’ve treasured during my life: firstly, the concept of space exploration in a computer game, as originally explored in the form of the glorious game Elite which I spent a great deal of time playing as a teenager; and secondly, graphics inspired by wonderful 70s sci-fi artwork such as that produced by Chris Foss, which I’ve enjoyed in books since my early childhood. I was so keen to play this game that I even went so far as to buy a new PS4 so I could play it.
The controversy surrounding the game is curious, though it’s sad that so much of it has been so negative. The amount of shocking abuse that’s been hurled at Sean Murray, the founder of Hello Games, is simply appalling. As a game it’s not exactly adrenaline-fueled and it certainly has its flaws, so I can see why some are disappointed and frustrated with it. It’s easy to see the places in the game where development was cut short, and I hope that Hello Games will continue to work on the game to realise the full extent of their original vision. Even if that doesn’t happen, I won’t regret for a second the time I’ve spent immersed in this endlessly gorgeous universe.
For me, indeed, this game is a beautiful, almost Zen-like work of art which – to an intriguing extent – explores notions of, and raises questions about, the purpose of our existence and the nature of the cosmos. The visuals in the game are remarkably reminiscent of the beauty we find within nature in the real world, and the need to find our own reasons for playing the game – without being handed a story on a plate like most other games – echoes the existential dilemma we all face when it comes to trying to find meaning within our lives. The mind-bogglingly huge, procedurally generated universe in the game reflects our increasing suspicion that our own universe could actually be a virtual simulation, generated by machines located in some other reality, as explored in films such as The Matrix and World on a Wire.
Oh, one other thing: last but certainly not least, the epic and atmospheric soundtrack by 65daysofstatic is an excellent accompaniment to the graphics and gameplay in No Man’s Sky.
This is a video I took within the game just after I’d first started playing it, quite a while ago now. I still think it’s a great example of the visuals and atmosphere within the game, and of course this is just some of the stuff that happens in space. For planetary artwork, check out the desktop wallpapers I created below as a result of adopting the role of “photographer” within the game, just as I do in real life.
These are all taken directly from the PS4 version of the game. They’re not modified or edited in any way, apart from the HUD details which I’ve photoshopped out.