Underlying the promise of exciting exploration is a dull grind for the same few resources within a shockingly limited universe.
In space, no one can hear you scream. In No Man’s Sky, they can’t hear you at all. They can only read the names of planets and species you’ve discovered. An infinite universe of randomly generated planets is an intriguing premise. But underlying the promise of exciting exploration is a dull grind for the same few resources within a shockingly limited universe.
No Man’s Sky isn’t a grand massively multiplayer space game nor an action-packed space flight sim. It’s a survival-crafting game.
You begin on a random, undiscovered planet with a broken down spaceship. Using your laser multi-tool you can break down whatever counts for trees and rocks on your planet for basic resources. Resources are limited to a handful of categories, which helps prevent you from ever getting stuck on any one planet. But limitations like that peel back the layers of clever game design to reveal the not-so-clever base components.
There are plenty of fun sci-fi and space-themed games out there. But precious few are grounded in realistic physics. Kerbal Space Program is as much a full on NASA-simulator as a game. It nicely uses the scientific method to keep you tweaking your journey toward galactic discovery.
Kerbal Space Program is a deceptively dense game hiding behind the cute green Kerbals that populate this space-age world. In Career mode you’re given a basic NASA-like facility. Buildings include Vehicle Assembly, Tracking Station, Mission Control, and a launch site that’s little more than a slab of concrete.
Stellaris captures the craziness and fun of sci-fi in an engaging, infinitely replayable strategy game.
Grand Strategy games have been around for awhile – a genre coined and perfected by Swedish developers Paradox Interactive. Previous Paradox titles dove headfirst into Medieval and World War history, and Stellaris finally takes us to the stars.
Managing European provinces is trite compared to large-scale galactic conquest, allied federations, and playing god to lesser beings. Stellaris isn’t just Paradox’s most accessible title; it’s also the best space empire management game I’ve ever played.
I’ve finished another backlogged game from the excellent Humble Indie Bundle I purchased earlier this year thanks to Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts on my gaming blog, and enjoy the excerpt below.
Rogue’s Adventures has introduced me to a lot of non-violent puzzle games, especially in the last year – Antichamber, Fez, Portal, etc. The Swapper is absolutely the best of the bunch (yes, I enjoyed it more than Portal, I generally prefer 2D to 3D with my puzzle games) and is also one of the few games with a foreboding sci-fi horror theme that is never actually reaches heightened stages of horror. A friend of mine put it succinctly: It’s like the first 15 minutes of a sci-fi horror film where we’re delving into the danger before *** hits the fan, extrapolated over a five hour game.
To me that pervading sense of dread and curiosity without having to feel scared of zombies or aliens jumping out at me is a huge plus, and something I rarely get to experience in games. I really don’t do horror games and The Swapper’s emphasis on puzzle solving and exploration while still maintaining its creepy atmosphere of What Went Wrong was wonderful to experience.
Read the full Final Thoughts over on Game Informer >>