Every Survivors-like is to some degree a scary game, overwhelming you with foes that ends up making you tense by the end of a run. Some of them, like 20 Minutes Till Dawn, even use a spooky aesthetic to make it scarier. But I don't think I've played one until now that could be a considered a horror game. Every minute of Snake Farm gets under your skin on some level, feeling equal parts jovial and threatening, from the droning synth to the overwhelming GIANT SNAKES AND YOU WEREN'T LYING WHEN YOU CALLED IT A GIANT WORM.
You know, I think the Forgotten Realms might be a bad setting. One of the most uncomfortable aspects of this game, for me, is how one of the early heroes is a bird dude who takes an affinity for one of three racial selections. Such as "human", which immediately makes "a party entirely of humans and one bird dude" a very optimal build, and reminds how, yeah, Forgotten Realms is kind of racist isn't it.
It's also just not a very satisfying idle game. You have to spam acceleration potions to make it feel as fun as incremental games like Orb of Creation. And the writing is just... so boring. It's just generic fantasy stuff. Imagine if the fetch quests from opening Runescape took four times as long. I just keep wishing I felt invested like I did with YourChronicle.
It's also got some gacha mechanics. So that's a thing. Buh. I don't know, I'm just tired of D&D's cultural dominance and especially the dominance of its settings, when it's really just a haphazard grab-bag of stuff that is often more interesting elsewhere.
In summary it's weird that this boring idle game reminded me so strongly that D&D is Bad about the races thing.
No Man's Sky drives me insane in a particular way which no other game really has in a long while. It has two viciously opposed things it is trying to accomplish, in a slapdash way that really feels like it is just continuously adding stuff without thought.
I am playing this in the year 2023, when the game has been out for a while. It has been patched numerous times, with all sorts of content. And every single piece of that content feels like it was made for Gamers™. I don't know what I am but I don't feel like I'm the core demographic here, because every one of these things feels like a superfluous feature that obscures what must've been a hauntingly pensive game.
No Man's Sky is also one of the bleakest capitalist games I've ever played. In it, you pilot spaceships which require no more attention than mining some resources, with the ultimate goal of finding more planets to visit, to carve giant holes and canyons out with your mining laser, so you may reap more rare materials and treasures to sell to an abstract space market. Plants are treated by this game with equal care and diligence to stones. A gorgeous tree that has evolved over a hundred thousand years is carbon, and maybe oxygen! Loads of delicious carbon. You carve it down and destroy it, not even letting it be wood, not even letting it be something to shape with your hands, but evaporating its form and reducing it to a basic molecule.
And for what? So you can do this a hundred more times? In dozens of more systems full of strange personality-vacant aliens with the same mysteriously vapid dialogue? So you can "discover" planets covered in settlements and crashed ships and aliens and you never can walk more than 500 meters without finding some remnant of civilization?
What scant environmental storytelling I can pick describes that the sentinels wandering around may be the remnant of some sort of fascist apocalyptic war. What then is this resource extraction hell we now exist in? Is all of No Man's Sky in some kind of purgatory? They added pirates and pirate raids recently, and they are the most boring flavorless call-to-action unnecessary gameplay I've experienced all year.
You follow leads after some entity named Artemis, slowly figuring out that they've crashed on some strange foreign planet. They describe it being covered in darkeness or something, and being utterly alone. How I wish I empathized at all. Can you imagine the weight this would have if I wasn't assaulted with a hundred meaningless NPCs before finding my way to finally speaking with Artemis? Imagine if the fascist Sentinels and idle fauna were the only signs of life except this one distress call, and finally after a dozen hours we connect our radios and talk, and they tell me how lonely they are, and how they feel so lost. How much resonance, how much solidarity we would feel!
But instead I am caught feeling that such an exchange must be an error of some degree. Some sort of remnant of the old game. It is impossible to fly to another planet before passing a dozen ships. Artemis cannot be truly so lost.
I was minding my business once when some pirates started attacking a base I was nearby. The game encouraged me to intervene. Why though? I found myself struck with the snarkiest thought: It's called No Man's Sky, but the way they're carrying on - I don't know, must be their sky!
No Man's Sky is so terrified of letting you feel alone, and I imagine that's because gamers yelled at them about it. And that's a damn shame, because when I landed on my second planet and discovered a poison mushroom planet full of giant worms that filled the sky, I did feel awe for a second. And then the game directed me to scan, and pointed out all the fun ore deposits and things for me to pillage, and the feeling was gone.
It's definitely somebody's sky. But not mine.