Nightingale (Early Access) review for PC

Platform: PC
Publisher: Inflexion Games
Developer: Inflexion Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

Given that we’re only a few months into its Early Access run, it’s definitely a little early to pass final judgment on Nightingale. After all, the developers have said it will be in Early Access at least until the end of the year, and as of last week the game just got Update 0.2, so we’re a ways off from seeing Nightingale in its final form.

But that doesn’t mean it’s too early to look in on its progress to see where it is. And based on the current state of the game, it’s not looking like Nightingale is going to live up to its pre-release promise.

Before saying why it doesn’t do that, it’s worth saying what Nightingale’s promise was. It promised a magical open-world survival game where you could teleport across an untold number of realms, building and crafting and creating to your heart’s content while getting into magical battles either solo or with a group of friends.

The problem isn’t that Nightingale doesn’t deliver on that – we’re not talking about some Day Before-style bait-and-switch scam. If you’re willing to put in the time, Nightingale really will allow you to find a realm and claim it for your own and build incredible structures with your friends.

Rather, Nightingale’s problem is that it’s really hard to want to put in the time. Or, to put it another way: it’s kind of boring.

It feels like Nightingale’s developers – Inflexion Games, which was founded by a couple of ex-Bioware executives – had a bunch of ideas for their game, and really want to make sure you fully explore all of them. While this is understandable, it also means you spend a lot of time gathering materials, and going on fetch quests, and pausing to craft things, and basically doing lots of stuff that starts feeling like busy work after not too long.

To be sure, that’s kind of the essence of survival games: you often have to do the same things over and over to, well, survive. But the way it’s done here, it quickly feels like there’s not much else to do beyond that. The gameplay loop feels far too shallow, with the only real difference between realms being whether they’re a forest, a swamp, or a desert.

Of course, the obvious counter to all that is that’s why Nightingale is still Early Access. There’s lots of time to add in things like a proper story with a plot and motivation. It’s not as if the game is fundamentally broken and doesn’t work. In fact, the visuals are prettier here and the game generally runs more smoothly than plenty of other titles that aren’t in Early Access. It’s very easy to imagine Nightingale following a path like, say, No Man’s Sky, where the building blocks are in place to turn into something special down the line.

For now, though, Nightingale isn’t quite there. I’m still interested in seeing where the game gets to by the time it leaves Early Access, because I’m still intrigued by its promise, but for now, it needs some work.

Inflexion Games provided us with a Nightingale PC code for review purposes.

Early Access Score: 6.5