Nightingale Early Access review in progress – a convoluted mess

Nightingale Early Access review in progress – a convoluted mess
Jack Webb Updated on by

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Survival games are a dime a dozen, and while some can push the genre to new heights, Nightingale only serves to rehash the same well-trodden tracks with a different lick of paint. With a lacklustre opening and an annoyingly bland guide in the shape of Puck, Nightingale suffers from the start and frequently drops the ball as it struggles to the finishing line.

Before we get more into our Nightingale review, I want to caveat that this is a review in progress for a game in Early Access. I have not made it to the end yet, but with well over 30 hours in Nightingale, I have a fairly good read on it. Given its status as an Early Access game, I can forgive bugs and the like, but it seems unlikely the core gameplay will change between now and the full 1.0 release.

This is precisely where and why Nightingale struggles. There is enough interest in the unique Realms system – whereby you select your biome and enter procedurally generated Realms full of exploration to complete – but it is exacerbated by increasingly convoluted systems that detract from the game.

Nightingale - how to upgrade and infuse weapons
Image by VideoGamer

Speaking of convoluted systems, let’s talk about the hot mess that is the crafting and loot systems in Nightingale. To be blunt, the crafting is horrendous. What should be a simple and satisfying mechanic is needlessly messy and a pain to do. Let’s say you want to make a structure. To make this one, you need to make three different structures and use them to refine the same material into four different things. On and on and on it goes, unfortunately.

Materials aren’t much better or different. For some reason, different forms of the same materials exist in huge supply, simply with a different name. You can get multiple types of meat – bug, prey, predator, etc – and every single one does the same thing. This is mostly the case for all items in the game, stretching to ore, metals, plant fibre, and the list tragically goes on and on.

Not only do you need several different benches to make one thing you want, but you also need multiple tools required to harvest materials. The worst part of this? You don’t have enough space on your hot bar for all the tools you need, which translates to a ton of menu micromanaging that is simply dull.

Something that surprised me about Nightingale is the impactful and weighty combat. Smacking an enemy with an axe is weirdly satisfying, and the animations for the swinging and impact are done very well. It’s too bad, then, that the combat itself and the task of fighting enemies is boring and a frequent annoyance, especially with such a lack of variety and challenge.

As an Early Access game, some quality-of-life issues may get fixed later on, but at the moment, there are far too many that hinder the enjoyment. Even Palworld could figure out that everything in your storage can be used to craft a structure without needing to have it in your inventory. Compound this with the awkward stack splitting of items, and you will pretty much have to overburden yourself with the materials and slowly walk your way back to the bench you want to make.

Nightingale Augmentations - Augments between Structures
Image taken by VideoGamer

My main takeaway from Nightingale is that there is far too much bloat, and the grinding required for anything is astronomical. Sure, the game has a cool ‘explorer’ vibe as you travel to different realms, but everything inside these realms is the same flavour of encounter. The procedurally generated nature of each biome is extremely impressive, however, and with some changes to the overall streamlining and progression in the game, this could help that aspect shine through more.

Nightingale will scratch an itch for those who want a truly in-depth exploration and crafting sim, but while it is in Early Access, it might not be the best choice for you. Not to mention, the game has a great aesthetic, with a clear Victorian-era theme in the clothing and weapons. There is something oddly charming about using an umbrella as a glider; nothing embodies the Victorian era more than this of course.

Nightingale has a lot of neat ideas that simply aren’t implemented well. It doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to the survival genre, and its gameplay is overburdened with bloat and needlessly time-consuming mechanics that culminate in a rather aimless experience that causes more frustration than wonder.

Reviewed on PC via Steam.


Nightingale doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to the survival genre, and its gameplay is overburdened with bloat and needlessly time-consuming mechanics.
4 Procedurally generated Realms are interesting and shows a lot of promise Fun aesthetic with weighty combat Overly bloated crafting and building system Exploration struggles to remain interesting due to copy-pasted objectives Severely lacking quality-of-life