It's both. That 'review' is just plain stupid. But also, Polygon has an earned negative bias.
Here are my early impressions. Which, may or may not contain spoilers, because I have no idea what type of planet everyone will start on, but I can assume some things will be similar.
I thought for sure they'd start me in the shallow end, get my feet wet, teach me the basics before throwing me into the deep end. I thought my starter planet would be devoid of life, rich in resources, so that I could learn at a leisurely pace. Nope. I start out taking radiation damage and have no idea what I'm doing with only some VERY basic instructions. It felt almost identical to the very first time I fired up Minecraft—you know danger is coming and you have a limited amount of time to prep for it. And you are fumbling to figure things out. Fast. Once you get the hang of things though, the radiation warnings were easy to circumvent.
Exploring caves also gave me the Minecraft vibe. That feeling you could get lost and never find your way out... so I tend to play it safe and not venture too far in any given direction.
Then, I began fixing and upgrading things and life got easier. I found animals, non-threatening ones, and it was like a feeling I've never had in a game—knowing this animal will probably never be seen by another living human. And it moved and interacted with me and the other animals around it. I marveled at the tech behind this and could not believe this was random 'maths' at work.
Once I got my ship up and running, I went exploring the surface more, because there were things on my scanner that were too far to walk to, but a ship had no problem reaching them in seconds. Now I had a different sensation—Mass Effect 1. Except, prettier. With more variety. And things to do. I remembered tooling around in the Mako, trying to collect things, but this was the Mako on a completely different level. Someone didn't hand draw these mountains. There wasn't a set course that everyone in the world would follow, the same architect didn't design every base and everything was completely unknown. It was what I wanted the "extra credit" planets in Mass Effect to be. Driving the Mako around a barren wasteland had it's moments, but this was way better.
I actually like that you start off having to survive. It teaches you the game rapidly. And I know that once I upgrade a few things, the game will get easier. Then, of course, harder, I'm sure. Yeah. Your inventory is laughably small. But I know that can be upgraded later, so whining about it now is foolish. Unless you get paid to whine like the Polygon staff.
tl;dr - This game is amazing. It's the love child of Mass Effect and Minecraft and I can't wait to get home and play some more.