Hands-on preview: Nightingale prioritizes worldbuilding in a world worth exploring
12.02.2024 - 21:41
Recently, successful survival-crafting releases like Palworld and Enshrouded have turned early 2024 into a competitive market for the genre. Inflexion Games has been crafting their take on the genre, Nightingale, for over five years now.
In just over a week, it will be released in Early Access with a plethora of content readily available. I had the opportunity to spend a few days in the world of Nightingale and explore all its many realms. I know you may be getting worn out with all the survival-crafting releases of late, but trust me when I say you’ll want to save room for a bite of Nightingale.
Alongside previewing Nightingale, I also had the chance to chat with Inflexion Games CEO Aaryn Flynn, Art Director and Head of Audio Neil Thompson, and Director of Production Leah Summers. All three are former BioWare developers who, quite frankly, know how to create special worlds. I’ll have that interview up later this week, but one of the key points of that interview reverberates when detailing my time with Nightingale: the world-building is what sets it apart from all the other titles in the genre.
Nightingale is set in an alternate-history Victorian timeline that the developers refer to as “Gaslamp Fantasy”. If you’re not sure what that means, don’t worry, neither did I. It’s similar to Steampunk in my opinion, although I was told the two are vastly different. But it seems like Gaslamp Fantasy is rooted in a more magically-infused world than Steampunk.
Anyway, humanity has constructed a network of portals that connect the various realms to one another. However, the portal network collapses and it’s up to the players to search out these portals, repair them, and explore the many realms in search of the fabled city of Nightingale.
The first part of my hands-on let me explore the world of Nightingale on my own. After a brief tutorial that taught me all the basics—how to gather materials, craft, and build a base—I met Puck, a seemingly nefarious Fae who offers me help, but I’m pretty sure has his own agenda. From here your adventure becomes mostly open-ended. You explore a realm—essentially a 2km map of a specific biome—while gathering more resources, defeating creatures, and exploring points of interest in the realm. If you find a realm you like, you can throw down an Estate, which allows you to start building structures in that area.
You’ll also come across Realm Cards that allow you to open portals to new realms. At first, you need to find designated Portal structures scattered throughout each realm. But, eventually, you can create your own Portal structure at your Estate, and then explore the realms as much as you want.
Realm Cards have certain tags that dictate the biome and features of each realm.