I turned 36 in October, and one of my birthday gifts was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 Remastered. It was a game I was good at as a kid, and loved playing, despite my total disinterest in skating in the real world. But, for whatever reason, the muscle-memory never came back to me, and I couldn’t connect to those vaseline-on-the-lens-tinted memories of youth. Cold, hard reality, like the sidewalks I kept face-planting on, kept getting in the way of my nostalgia kick.
After several evenings, I started to feel a little anxious, because I was playing it out of a sense of duty, not fun. Then, I noticed an icon for No Man’s Sky on my PS4’s homescreen, a game I reviewed back in 2019 and rarely since. One night, I settled in for an hour of two of skating and found myself activating the open-world, procedurally-generated space simulation instead. And despite it being possibly the worst thing to play when you’re skirting the border of a mid-life crisis, it’s swallowed me whole.