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Nightingale Hands-On Preview: Bird In A Hand

I really love survival games! And I’m not gonna lie, I have been eating up ALL the survival games this year. Palworld, Enshrouded; I have been spoiled and it’s only February. And then we have new up-and-comer Nightingale.

Nightingale is something I’ve been looking forward to ever since I first laid eyes on it. It’s a third-person survival game that you can play with friends. Wait, let me rephrase that. A portal-jumping survival game, with Victorian-era-ish characters with guns!

Developed by former Bioware developer Aaryn Flynn, the game has been in the making for about 5 and a half years at Inflexion Games. Hence why I was very excited when I got to play the final preview.

Other than being a survival game, what is Nightingale? Well, it’s set in a fantasy world, in which there is one particular realm, a Victorian, steampunk-ish era connected to a whole lot more other realms via some form of arcane portal network. One day, this network has collapsed, and you are stuck in the Fae Realms. Your end goal is to reach the Nightingale City!

Your journey starts with Puck, a Fae inspired by Shakespeare who will explain how everything works as soon as the game starts. He’ll guide you through a short tutorial which will then help pave the way to your journey.


Getting Carded

Here’s what makes Nightingale unique. Nightingale has a card system which allows you to travel through realms. Realm Cards offer a thrilling and creative experience in crafting virtual worlds through Nightingale’s portal network. Crafted from various materials, these cards come in three types: Biome Cards determine the overall landscape, Major Cards bring significant changes like increased creature spawns, and Minor Cards introduce subtle alterations such as weather and time of day.

Think of it like playing a hand of cards, and the combo you choose determines the overall look and danger levels of the realm. There are 3 Biomes currently, the Forest, the Swamp, and the Desert, so you can imagine the possibilities!

Given the time frame we were given to play the preview, I did not get to play around with the cards as much as I’d have liked to. One thing I have to mention about Minor cards is that the players must adapt their strategies to changing weather conditions, such as seeking shelter during storms or taking advantage of darkness to avoid deadly threats. I found a trusty umbrella that I looted from a deserted place. I walk around with it, not just as a fashion statement, but because I need to shelter myself from the pitter-patter of the rain. I honestly felt like Mary Poppins.

Not only that, the game also introduces a variety of creatures that inhabit its world, each with its own behaviour patterns and dangers. Players must learn to understand these creatures to avoid or confront them effectively. The unpredictability of creature behaviour adds an element of suspense, keeping players on their toes and encouraging a cautious and strategic approach.


Brick By Brick…

Building and crafting is a major gameplay mechanic of survival games. It is no different in Nightingale. I’m so glad that building is beginner friendly here and not as hard as other games. Resources are as scarce as other games, and you will have to venture into different areas to get what you need. You’ll craft better armour, tools as well as weapons as you progress through different realms and acquire these blueprints. There are a certain amount of crafting stations that will help with the progression.

One thing that irked me is that when crafting, you NEED to have the materials that you need in your very small bag. However, the developers have confirmed that they are working on improving the crafting system so you can craft items from chests, so don’t worry! It’s definitely coming down the line.

At the very least, there are some NPCs in realms who are happy to help you with your daily farm life. In my playthrough, I ran into Chester, an NPC who needed my help in building his own shelter. In return, I could recruit him to help me on my journey. he’ll help me fend off the while creatures, and carry some extra weight so I won’t always be over-encumbered like the loot goblin I am.

There are of course other merchant NPCs that will sell you various things from crafting stations, raw materials and even cards. This helps, even just a teensy bit with the grind!

The combat, however, left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Swinging a mace, or even stabbing monsters with my hunting knife just didn’t feel satisfactory. There was even some issues with hit registration. I can tell you though, that ranged combat is definitely the way to go. Using the crossbow felt much, MUCH better as opposed to melee. I’ve heard that combat gets a bit better at later levels once you unlock guns, but we’ll see how that goes!

Nightingale launches into Early Access on the 21st of February, and it is said to stay in the early access period for about a year. You’ll be able to play with up to 10 friends so go crazy and grab your friends along. Console gamers: you’ll have to wait for quite a bit but we hear the developers are considering console parts, so fear not.

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