Created by veterans with many successful games behind them, Nightingale seems to want to give a serious boost to the survival genre. We previewed it.
It often happens that groups of programmers tired of the chaotic and brutal world of triple A flee to milder shores, eager to rediscover the joy of independent development. It happens less often, however, that the group is large enough to form a team of over 100 professionals and that their first project immediately has ambitions similar to those of the main blockbusters on the market. The story of Inflexion Games seems to belong to the second and very rare case: this Canadian team, made up mostly of ex Bioware veterans, decided to get noticed immediately by presenting its new baby on the illustrious stage of The Game Awards some time ago, and since then Nightingale has intrigued many fans of survival crafting games with its peculiar qualities.
And yes, anyone reading without having paid particular attention to the title is probably already puffing at the genre just mentioned; on the other hand i survival they have seen such an explosion in popularity in recent years that they have almost grown tired of the repetition of their formulas and structures. However, it would be wrong not to give Nightingale a chance, because the veterans behind the project seem to want to field something more elaborate and interesting than average, and curiously also much more accurate from a narrative point of view. We have seen in Nightingale preview before The Game Awards, and today we’re going to tell you what we found.
A cylinder is always classy
Old habits die hard, and in fact Inflexion, coming from an illustrious RPG historian, still have a passion for storytelling elaborate. Nightingale therefore starts from a much more detailed background than the vast majority of its “competitors”, which is based on an alternative timeline to ours, where humans have lived parallel to the Fae people for their entire existence. Creatures endowed with mystical powers and inscrutable motivations, the Fae have influenced the entire development of humanity, leading it to build a complex network of portals to visit various realms and even a huge city called Nightingale, where the races live in “relative” harmony thanks to a series of indissoluble pacts and contracts.
Everything seems to work, until a mysterious pale miasma begins to intrude across the realms, destroying portals and ending human society, leaving millions scattered across uncharted regions. The only town capable of withstanding the disaster? Precisely the magical city of Nightingale, the primary objective of the journey of our alter ego, and the nerve center of this new and unpredictable universe.
In short, in simple terms, in this game you are one of the “missing” among the realms, forced to survive by exploiting the surrounding resources, while trying to at least partially repair the network of portals to reach the aforementioned capital. Described in this way it might seem like the usual formula with a more detailed justification than expected to shape the usual loop of gathering materials, fighting and building, but in reality Inflexion were keen to go much deeper into the narrative, explaining that the Fae have almost divine origins and are divided into noble courts – which you will probably have to keep in mind during interactions with them – and that, although it is difficult to discern their plans, they are not necessarily evil creatures.
That wasn’t enough factional structure seems to be an integral part also of the remnants of human society: in Nightingale there are reworkings of pre-existing historical characters and unpublished personalities at the head of important organizations, and the plan seems to be that of putting in place a very important division of roles and groups for the future game progression. To give you an example, in this world an alternate version of Ada Lovelace (a famous historian who died young, but here alive and well) leads the scientific faction of Calcularia, while the Realmwalkers, the main explorers of the game, are led by Allan Quatermain (fictitious literary hero, here rendered “real”).
Inflexion didn’t go into more detail than that, and factions won’t be in theearly access and are clearly part of a more structured plan for the full game and future updates. However, it is pleasant to see a discreet emphasis on the story, which should also be accompanied by quests during the game.
Mary Poppins gliding master
Turning to gameplay, also in this field there seems to be much more care than the average of the genre. In the first presentation, the developers had talked about the construction system, specifying how it was designed to give shape to real inhabited centers in the kingdoms; here, however, we have gone into more detail than the other aspects, and especially the exploration seems very valid, since not only should the rock walls be freely climbable, but it is even possible to glide using an umbrella like a novel Mary Poppins. In short, although it is a first-person survival, the movement in the maps has considerable similarities to Breath of the Wild, and it is a level of freedom that we like a lot.
You, however, are a Realmwalker, and as such you’ll also gain a plethora of skills as you play. The bulk of the combat seems to be concentrated on melee – this makes sense in a survival where usually the first tool to fight is a stick – but there will be a usable magic system, complete with the possibility of customizing a lot weapons in detail. Talking about customizationthen, the style of the game (called Gaslight Victorian Fantasy) allows you to indulge yourself with the clothing of your alter ego, and it is truly peculiar to see these groups of ladies and gentlemen grappling with the dangers of the mystical realms of the Fae.
The intent of the development team seems to offer an experience mainly oriented towards collaboration, albeit perfectly playable alone, full of mystery and a sense of discovery, and not necessarily focused on combat and horrific threats. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be very dangerous monsters (the artists of the team seem to have a thing for demonic creatures or creatures with vampire traits, to be honest) or realms that are very difficult to deal with, given that in Nightingale even the progression system it will be very different from usual.
In practice, almost all realms seem to be based on one series of cards to be used on portals, findable or printable. Realms are procedural, but they have specific biomes and the cards modify their characteristics in detail, including the danger. The deeper you go into a map and it is changed according to your will, the more numerous the rewards are, so we don’t doubt that if you want it is possible to face Nightingale even in a much more hardcore way than the average. For the record, the cards can even be combined to access certain realms (yes, you can also combine them with those of other players) and each user can choose a “rest realm” where to build his headquarters, and come back to relax after the clashes.
It’s already quite a mix of factors to handle in a similar title, yet the team appears to be well on their way to delivering one beta in early 2023andearly access official for the first half. Clearly, however, early access means continuous feedback from the community with potentially total transformations of the systems, therefore, although the base already seems more solid than average, we imagine it will be a long time before we see Nightingale take its final form.
Full of ambition and apparently much more elaborate than the vast majority of other survival, Nightingale seems to be able to actually distinguish itself from the mass of titles that populate its genre. Of course, Inflexion still have a lot of work to do, and their universe is complex enough to require years of work to fully exploit its potential; who knows, however, that with the support of the community (and a well-calculated early access) this may not become one of the best games of this type around. The possibilities are there.
- Neat and charming environment
- Free exploration and very elaborate realms
- Interesting approach to difficulty progression
- Still many elements to develop and discover
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