I have a confession to make.
I was wrong.
I hyped & I gushed & I sang a full-throated anthem for something I’d heard only rumours about, and when it finally came into being, I let the de-hype sink in deeper than the hype did. As a gamer and as a critic, I’ve become part of the problem. I’ve allowed the judgment of others to dictate my own.
No Man’s Sky, for all its space-faring ambition, was released in what seems to be an Alpha state. The glitches and crashes are forgivable - but what will probably never be patched in are the countless gameplay features not only promised, but literally demonstrated in demo footage. Planets do not spin through a real-physics day & night cycle. There is no galactic faction war for territories and resources. Ships and planets barely differentiate in any meaningful way. And, no: there is nothing at the centre of the Universe but a big fat fucking middle finger.
But surprisingly, as a flag-waving hopeful for the game’s success, I report on none of these disappointments firsthand. I might have done if I hadn’t been out of town during the game’s release. Friends and Youtube reviewers derided the game’s shallowness, but I refused to hear them. They just weren't appreciating it for the Zen experience it's designed to provide, I told myself. They're just not getting it, like I already do. But once I laid eyes on the now-infamous class-action List of Lies on Reddit, my will was broken. For whatever reasons, the game was 1/10th of what we were told it would be. With that list alone, the sun had set on No Man’s Sky for me. I still might play it someday. But, on principle, I will never pay money for this insult to enthusiasm.
No Man’s Sky aside, I’m a lazy critic. I was recently talking to Rob Fernuk, friend and sometime contributor to Evade Gismo, about the Daredevil TV series, and he identified a deep flaw in my method: I’m a media flake. Four episodes into Daredevil’s first season I started periodically checking the timestamp several times before the end of each episode. Eventually I started falling asleep and picking up where I’d left off, only to groan at the painfully banal crime-show procedures out of episodic context. I not only abandoned watching; I critically dismissed the show, and Rob rightfully chastised me for the pathological consistency with which I do this. The same thing happened with BioShock: Infinite, a game I played for just over 2 hours before completely ditching it. I cut myself loose from the risk of further dissatisfaction, but at the expense of knowing fully what it is I am disappointed with. I seem to convince myself I’m simply being rigorous about which media deserves my attention before I allow it to finish its sentence, so to speak. I’ve thrown out fifty babies with a hundred baths of water. This goes totally against what a critic should wish to do — bear the brunt of what he encounters so he can give a description in full of how it went.
With No Man’s Sky, I didn’t even PLAY THE GAME before deciding I deserved better. And that, my readers, is shameful. Even Superman64 must be PLAYED, by some brave soul, to be understood at all. Yet even after they were deflated I allowed my expectations to get the better of me. And while I could back up my boycott with specious claims about deceptive hyping and consumer responsibility, I’ve still failed in my essential role as a reviewer and critic. I’ve created a vacuum of meaning at the centre of my own opinions.
And for that I apologize. It won’t happen again.
That said... my friend who bought the game has shared his Steam library. Perhaps I can make it up to you - and to myself - by giving a firsthand opinion over the next couple of days.