Nightingale Early Access Review

Nightingale Early Access Review

Things Growing Are Not Ripe Until Their Season

In my eyes there’s a few types of early access titles. There’s the ones that exist in their current state and will never leave EA, the ones that change with community feedback until their 1.0 launch, and the ones that just use it as a loose beta and don’t change overmuch. I love early access for this reason. Sure, it can be a mixed bag but I think that’s awesome. The games that make it through the gauntlet of EA and come out the other side are all the more interesting. Nightingale is the next on my list for EA titles, and it’d been one I was keeping an eye on pre-launch, a rarity for me.

Nightingale is a weird one. It’s a mix between Victorian steam(ish)punk cross Fae fantasy, which makes the aesthetic a bit of a wild ride sometimes, yet at the same time, it doesn’t use it anywhere near interestingly enough to warrant the fantastical. Realms, the game’s world system, all end up feeling a bit samey and not different or cool enough, with the exception of the modifiers on the region. Ok, I just wrote a lot of words, let’s dial it back to explain.

The gameplay loop is this; kill a boss in your base world, craft the next major realm card level, go to that level through the portal, gather some ingredients, come back to your base and craft the new gear which unlocks a new boss to kill. Rinse and repeat. Each of the major realm cards is a modifier for the biomes, which alters the materials inside. The differences though are fairly minimal outside of the level of creatures, materials gathered, and the level of essence gained, which is the game’s currency for all crafting and trading.


I think the realm system was the second most disappointing thing to me. I wanted realms to be weird and fantastical, but they’re just not. The challenges in each area also start repeating themselves quickly, and some are so basic that you’ll spend all of about five seconds looking at it before completing it. In a vacuum, if you looked at a high end realm and a low end realm, you’d see no differences. There’s three biomes: swamp, forest and desert, and this helps break things up but doesn’t ultimately fix the underlying problems. Realistically you’ll want to visit all three biomes of a difficulty level anyway, because the vendors are unique to each variant and buying recipes for crafting is important. You can set the difficulty of a realm when you create it, but ultimately it just makes the enemies spongier and the combat isn’t nearly exciting enough to make it worthwhile, it’s not like the drops are any better on the higher difficulties, unfortunately.

The main gripe I had was around the bosses. Almost all of the bosses behind which the difficulty modification cards are locked are the same, and their AI is not great. It was on me in part because I started on the hardest difficulty, but I ended up just shooting at them over and over for about five minutes until they dropped. Getting close was a no-no, as there’s no iFrames to help against their massive AoE attacks. It just became a huge slog that did not feel worthwhile or rewarding, outside of unlocking a new set of realms. The dungeons they’re spawned in also aren’t super engaging, so I actively dreaded doing them. Especially when I failed.

It’s not all bad news though. I think the crafting is best in class. I actually got a little whiplash going from bosses to unlocking a new set of stuff to craft. All of the stations, of which there’s plenty, can be augmented with a different decoration so there’s plenty to mix and match. All of the unique materials have stats too, so I end up doing some quick spreadsheeting (a good sign a game has something special for me) to create the perfect weapons and armour for my playstyle at a specific time. Honestly, the crafting really saves this game. I also like the building system, but it’s very limited by how many pieces you can place, which feels very low for how many are offered.

Finally, there is the games’ online functionality, which was a piece of information that I had missed prior to launch. I love survival games, but I also love running private servers and modding them. This can’t really be done with an always online system. The developers have announced that there will be an offline mode coming, but no date has been set for it. Online is fine, but it doesn’t feel necessary in this game. There’s a hub right at the start of the endgame, but it wasn’t very populated and I ended up doing things solo.

I think Nightingale has potential. It’s certainly not there yet, and this is the most divided I’ve been in any survival game. The developers seem active in the community and receptive to feedback, which to me is a great sign that Early Access will drastically change this game for the better. It’s still rough now, but with polish this could be a very interesting one to watch.

Stay Tuned For More Whenever The 1.0 Launch Arrives!

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