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Nightingale hands-on preview: What if Minecraft were a fantasy survival game?

Minecraft for the dapper gentleman

We’ve seen plenty of trailers of Nightingale, and yet it feels like a game we know so little about. This is mostly because of how unique the game feels, mixing up genres and taking features and additions from various other popular games. The easiest comparison to make is to Minecraft, as a good deal of the gameplay is based around designing and building your own base. However, it feels like Nightingale takes the Minecraft formula to its limits, including an incredibly dense crafting and creation system.

Nightingale takes place in an alternative future based on Victorian London, where most of the world has been destroyed by ‘the Pale’ save the titular town. A species known as the Fae approaches you and lets you know that you can travel via portals to other worlds where you can gather resources. In order to use these portals, you must gather tarot cards, and the combination of cards will decide which planet you are transported to.

Nightingale video game screenshot

After you create your own character, with a striking array of customization options, you will then set off through a portal and land on the first of four tutorial planets. Each area contains a mix of different resources that you can gather, and you can craft these from your menu. While the crafting system seems rather deep, the resource gathering is your usual set of picking plants, chopping down trees, and gathering the organs of your enemies. Nightingale has combat, and there are a variety of creatures that will engage you in each area.

Many of the animals will not bother you if you do not bother them, though others will aggro as soon as they see you. There are both guns and melee weapons here, but unfortunately, I didn’t see anything that sets it apart from the usual survival game. After completing the first four tutorial areas, you will be rewarded with a housing pack and be able to build your first place. While you are given quite a basic pack of wall, floor, and roofing materials, the team showed how you could build quite elaborate structures if you put your mind to it.

Nightingale video game screenshot

As you progress and earn different panels for the building, you can create crafting tables to create decorations as well as bigger and better equipment. This includes creating your own portals and tarot cards so that you can find even more worlds to explore. It seems the core gameplay loop is gathering resources to create things that will allow you to gather better resources and so on. Nightingale is a game where you make your own fun from the things you create and new worlds you discover.

You only have to look at Minecraft to see just how popular these types of games can be, but the market is incredibly saturated. Nightingale has a high quality of graphics and fine detail, though the animations still feel rather clunky. Minecraft shows that you don’t need flashy graphics to do well in the genre, and more important is the player base, and the incredible creations they can create. Minecraft’s passionate player base has been bolstered by frequent communication with the development team who help with their requests, and with the huge amount of player freedom available to them.

Nightingale video game screenshot

It’s hard to preview a game that relies so heavily on its player base to dictate its playability and popularity. However, in its current state I don’t particularly see the appeal of Nightingale over what is already available on the market. There is a long time left before its release, and it will only be going into early access in February. If this campaign gains enough popularity and the team reacts properly to player feedback, then it could develop into something worth playing. As it stands at the moment though, it feels like a mish-mash of ideas that don’t blend together coherently.