Parents need to know that "No Man's Sky" is a first-person sci-fi simulation game where players explore a virtually endless universe filled with massive planets, alien life, and technological secrets. The bulk of the game is composed of exploration, discovery, and using resources to craft new items and technologies. Players can also engage in battle with aliens and machines - including those that pose no threat, should they choose (though most creatures will fight back if attacked, and many are much more powerful than the player's character). The gun-based combat involves explosions and bursts of light, but no blood or gore.


"No Man's Sky" begins with the player's character stranded with a broken ship on a random planet near the outer rim of the galaxy. It's up to the player to explore, discover, and figure out where to go and what to do. The game provides few formal long term objectives. Most players will likely begin by searching the nearby area to find crates, plants, rocks, and animals capable of supplying the minerals they need to fix key parts of their ship. Once fully repaired, they'll fly their ship to the stars, eventually traveling to any point of light they like. For defense, your character is armed with a gun that can also be used to break apart rocks and destroy barriers. As players explore, they'll gradually discover recipes for new technologies - better ship parts and improved equipment - that will encourage them to hunt down rare minerals, land in space stations where they can trade items and buy better ships, and encounter ancient alien relics and slowly learn alien languages. It's up to players to decide what they want to accomplish.


Few games made by just a handful of people are more ambitious than this space adventure. "No Man's Sky" provides us with a randomly generated universe nearly as big as the one we physically inhabit, making the possibilities for discovery virtually endless. The stuff you'll find and the places you'll see in the opening hours only impresses upon you the vast, essentially infinite scope of the experience and a distinct and colorful visual presentation.

But there are a few chinks in "No Man's Sky's" armor. The lack of formal objectives, for example, will leave goal-oriented players itching for purpose, and some may be turned off by the lack of explanation. Text clues pop up here and there early on, but players are by and large left to figure out most things for themselves. Perhaps the most frustrating thing players will encounter at the start, though, is the small and restrictive inventory - within the first half hour, you'll likely find you need to start prioritizing which elements to keep and which to leave behind as empty slots fill up. Even with these problems, though, "No Man's Sky" is well worth trying, if only to appreciate what it represents for freedom of play and how even a small group of designers can create incomprehensibly vast virtual worlds.

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