Led Astraeus: A No Man’s Sky Story

by | Aug 24, 2017

No Man’s Sky has been a fascinating project since it first appeared in the gaming consciousness four years ago, and it’s something of a relief that after the game’s troubled and premature launch, it seems to have rallied somewhat and now be well to capturing the quality that first caught everyone’s attention.

I’ve been interested in it as a storytelling playground – there’s just something about the premise of 18 quintilion unique-ish planets and an art style influenced by the covers of the mid to late 20th century sci-fi paperbacks that sets off the imagination. Of course, storytelling in a videogame is not the same thing as writing a narrative down on paper: One must take account of the agency of the player and what is communicated –  “implicitly narrated” if you will – by the gameplay mechanics. How does this fit with the narrative story as supplied by cutscenes, scripted dialogue etc? How do both of these fit with the game’s premise? To what extent are they satisfying in their own rights?

In this illustrated long-form video essay ludo-narrative fanfiction thingy I’ve attempted to unpick the story waiting to be told by No Man’s Sky, and then recondense it into something that works on multiple levels, narratively and mechanically. It might not be to your taste, but I think it fundamentally works. Hope you like it!