Plugged In

Review: ‘No Man’s Sky’

no man's sky

After five years in development, Hello Games has finally released its ambitious space exploration game, “No Man’s Sky.” And after more than three weeks of discovering new planets, mining resources and continuing my push toward the center of the galaxy, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the experience.

“No Man’s Sky” started out strong, largely delivering on its promise of truly open-ended gameplay. After awakening on an undiscovered planet with a busted spaceship, I began the slow process of gathering resources to craft upgrades for my ship and suit, which was providing me protection from the planet’s moderately high levels of radiation. I spent hours scouring the planet, exploring abandoned buildings, locating and identifying the native flora and fauna, and meeting some odd-looking aliens who seemed friendly enough even though I understood little of their language.

Eventually my need to discover every secret this planet held locked away behind those green question marks on my map took over and those hours turned into days. I continued collecting minerals and selling excess resources to increase my bankroll. I located a greatly improved version of my multi-tool, the handy device that is used both for mining and self defense from the AI sentinels that patrol the galaxy and take umbrage with the excessive removal of resources.

After spending nearly a week on my starting planet and having discovered 100 percent of the plants and animals that dwell there, I decided to make my first leap into outer space. The feeling of exhilaration that accompanied that first launch into the unknown was unforgettable, and I immediately set off in search of my next world to explore. I pointed my ship toward the nearest planet in the system, engaged my hyper-drive and touched down on my second planet in a matter of minutes.

I wasn’t altogether sure what to expect on this new planet — would there be a new alien race to meet or some grand new mystery to uncover? The answer, sadly, was no. From one planet the next I moved, and each time the process repeated itself. I would explore, tag some new creatures, collect more resources and continue to the next world. The magic I felt during those first few moments simply disappeared after so many hours and days of doing the same things over and over again.

What didn’t disappear, however, is the peaceful, zen-like feeling I got from simply taking my time and soaking up every inch of these strangely beautiful vistas. It is that feeling which keeps me coming back and continuing my interstellar journey. I know that I can boot up “No Man’s Sky” and chill out, whether for a few minutes or a few hours. It’s like my own virtual vacation.

There’s no doubt that “No Man’s Sky” has the potential to be a truly remarkable game. As Hello Games has promised to support the title with new content and updates, and with a solid foundation already in place, it’s easy to see what “No Man’s Sky” could one day become. But in its current state, “No Man’s Sky” shoots for the stars but ultimately comes up short.

“No Man’s Sky”
Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Hello Games
Available for: PlayStation 4, PC ($59.99)
Rating: T for teen
Score: 7.0/10

batman telltale
A scene from “Batman: The Telltale Series, Episode 1.”

Gamers are no strangers to donning the cape and cowl and defending Gotham from all manner of villains as the iconic Batman, thanks in large part to Rocksteady Studio’s classic “Arkham” trilogy. But what happens when the costume comes off and Bruce Wayne is left to fend for himself?

That’s the side of the superhero mythos being explored in “Batman: The Telltale Series.”

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Review: ‘Inside’

"Inside" is the latest offering from "Limbo" developer Playdead.
“Inside” is the latest offering from “Limbo” developer Playdead.

It’s taken a while, but indie developer Playdead has finally delivered a follow-up to its 2010 smash “Limbo.” And after playing through their latest effort, “Inside,” I can safely say it was worth the wait.

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LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens


There has been an awakening …

Yes, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was just the shot in the arm that the “Star Wars” film franchise needed after the much-maligned prequel trilogy. And in a similar fashion, “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is exactly the kind of effort developer Traveller’s Tales needed to deliver in order to get its family-friendly video game series back on track after a string of so-so offerings.

As such, “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is easily the most enjoyable LEGO-branded game since “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes” way back in 2013.

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While it may not be the new “Batman” game from developer Rocksteady I was hoping for, the announcement of a remastered collection of the first two installments in the acclaimed Arkham trilogy is nonetheless a welcome one.

“Batman: Return to Arkham” bundles the Game of the Year editions of “Arkham Asylum” and “Arkham City” along with all of the DLC released for each game. The titles are being remastered by Virtuos using Unreal Engine 4, which allows for improved graphics like character models, environments, lighting and effects.

“Batman: Return to Arkham” launches July 26 for $49.99 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

A look inside April’s ‘Quest’ Loot Crate

My sons are back again to unbox another Loot Crate, this time the April 2016 “Quest”-themed package.

This month’s box features items from Harry Potter, “Uncharted 4,” “Vikings” and a pretty sweet “Labyrinth” T-shirt that had my kids stumped — of course, considering the film came out roughly 18 years before they were born, it’s easy to see how that could happen. A 20-sided die ice mold and the obligatory collector’s pin, also featuring a 20-sided die, round out the box.

IMG_5078The highlight for me was definitely the Harry Potter socks, which feature the various horcruxes (horcruxi?) Harry must track down and destroy in order to stop Lord Voldemort. Yes, that was a pretty serious spoiler but if you haven’t read the books by now you have only yourself to blame.

The “Uncharted 4” poster was a little underwhelming but the Viking drinking horn will definitely look cool sitting on my desk at the office.

For more on Loot Crate, check out their website at

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, Marvel has finally given us our first look at Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange.

Set for release on November 4, “Doctor Strange” is certainly shaping up to be the most … unique film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I’m curious to see how casual fans will respond to the Sorcerer Supreme. Let’s face it — despite his prominent role within the pages of the Marvel Universe, Strange remains a far less recognizable character than any the publisher has brought to the big screen thus far.

Of course, one could argue that neither the Guardians of the Galaxy nor Ant-Man were household names and I seem to recall those films doing OK at the box office, so clearly Marvel knows what it’s doing. We’ll have to see if that magic continues this fall.

“Doctor Strange” is directed by Scott Derrickson and also stars Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams.


Disney and LucasFilm today gave fans their first glimpse at the next feature film set in the “Star Wars” universe — “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” And it looks amazing.

“Rogue One” is set before the events of “A New Hope” and tells the story of a band of rebels who attempt to steal the plans for the first Death Star. The ensemble cast is led by Felicity Jones, who plays lead protagonist Jyn Esro. “Rogue One” also stars Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna and Donnie Yen, among others.

Directed by Gareth Edwards, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is set to open Dec. 16.


Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is nearly upon us, but fans looking to experience America’s Pastime on the digital diamond needn’t wait any longer.

Whether you’re looking for a no-frills pick up and play title, an insanely deep text-based sim or a highly detailed virtual recreation of the sport, there’s a video game for that. Here’s a look at this year’s offerings, peanuts and Cracker Jack not included:

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Review: ‘Layers of Fear’

layers of fear

When it comes to horror games, I have no problem dealing with hordes of zombies or twisted creatures ripped straight from someone’s nightmares. It’s the unseen terrors, those things that go bump in the night and lurk in the dark corners of the mind, that make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

And that’s exactly the kind of horror you’ll find in “Layers of Fear,” the recent release from independent development studio Bloober Team.

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