Dark or Light

Nightingale - Early Access Review

Kazuma Hashimoto Posted:
Reviews 0

When Inflexion Games announced Nightingale in 2021, I was mildly interested in what I saw. I genuinely like survival games, having dabbled in Valheim and V Rising quite a bit. But what drew me towards this particular game was its setting. 

Gaslamp Fantasy isn’t something you see all that much in games, and when it came closer to Nightingale’s release, I found myself more and more interested in what this game could offer. And though Nightingale does tread some familiar ground, it uses its unique setting to create something fun and exciting for the player while incorporating a new mechanic that allows for hours upon hours of gameplay.

I was able to play Nightingale on two different PCs; a laptop running a 1060 and a desktop with a 3080ti, and performance between the two was fairly solid. Naturally, the 3080ti was capable of running Nightingale with better graphics. Still, the game played and functioned perfectly on my minimum systems requirement laptop, which was great, since I spent more than half of my time with the survival game while traveling through Europe. 

The only real issue I had with Nightingale, at least regarding its performance, was loading times. These disappeared the moment I booted up the game on my desktop once I was back in the United States. Loading times shortened considerably, but I was also playing the game on much better hardware.

However, Nightingale is full of minor technical issues — which is to be expected, it’s an Early Access game. Animations are clunky and sometimes don’t complete, depending on what weapon or item you have equipped. Sometimes, when felling trees, the game wouldn’t register that I had successfully broken through the trunk with my ax and the remains of it would remain floating in mid-air. 


Climbing is a sordid affair, even through the use of craftable climbing picks. I attempted to scale several steep cliff faces but never made much progress. This was due to how finicky the system is, as sometimes the game would register that I needed to pull myself up over a ledge, or I would get stuck jumping against the wall until I would finally make it up and over.

Thankfully, I never encountered any major technical issues, such as getting stuck in the environment or falling through the ground. The same cannot be said for one of my co-op partners, who got stuck in a cliff face in a desert biomes while trying to reach an Essence Merchant. 

There is an in-game unstuck button that resolves this issue, however. So it seems like Inflexion Games came prepared. However, that same co-op partner did experience crashing while mining rocks. It didn’t matter what kind of rock they were mining, just that the sheer amount of rocks the game would generate would cause their game to crash. Additionally, the arcane portals that are used to navigate through Realms ended up bugging out for them, which meant that they couldn’t actually generate new Realms without someone else doing it for them, which is honestly one of the worst things that can happen in the game.

The general lack of polish the game has weirdly enough reminded me of a Bethesda game, and I don’t necessarily mean that negatively. There’s a sort of charm to it in how clunky character animations are. Or how your player character looks coarse and unrefined regardless of how much you fiddle with the character creator, which in its current state is somewhat decent. Players can create their own family tree, picking presets to define their lineage regardless of their ancestor's race or gender, which I found to be a nice choice. This is mostly for role-playing purposes, however, as these choices are ultimately negligible outside of the character creator.

Your player character is then generated from these selections, but your features can be fine-tuned through other character-creation tools. Currently, players cannot pick any scars or tattoos, or further modify their appearance outside of initial character creation. However, Inflexion Games intends to add these additional cosmetics through further updates. That said, hairstyles are not gender locked and the selection of beards is appropriately period accurate — which means you’ll be dealing in a small selection of mutton chops and perfectly shaped mustaches, as Nightingale is set within the late 1800s during the Industrial Revolution and the westward expansion in the Americas.

I would describe Nightingale as an arcane alternate history, one where Earth faces a destructive calamity that threatens to wipe humanity from existence. Ripped from our realm and transported into the world of the fae, the player character encounters the mysterious being known as Puck. 

Here, they are introduced to various fae magic and given an introduction to the world, with their main objective to find the city of Nightingale. It’s fairly straightforward, and there are some suggestions of various faction wars and political intrigue. What’s neat is that even early on, if you meet characters from opposing factions, you can choose to withhold information from them while walking around the world and questing. You also encounter real-life historical figures like Bass Reeves, which is where the alternate history bit comes into play. 

But the narrative of Nightingale, thus far, does not interrogate the politics of our survival and colonization of these Realms in any meaningful way as you continue to chop down trees for resources and pillage other Realms all for the sake of getting closer to your main objective.


Players can pick from a handful of different character backgrounds and professions, which, outside of adding some texture to the narrative, more or less define the difficulty you start off with. However, Realm, or world difficulty, can be changed to accommodate your personal playstyle. This more or less just adds some flavor to your interactions with NPCs that populate the various Realms players can generate through the use of Realm Cards. 

There are a total of three different Realm cards; Biome, Major, and Minor. The Biome card dictates what environment your Realm will be, while Major and Minor cards supply additional effects — this includes increasing the general difficulty of a realm, increasing material gain, and even changing weather or day and night cycles. You can effectively tailor make a Realm of your choosing every time you generate one through Arcane Portals found on the map, or through ones they can create as they progress the game.

Realm generation is effectively infinite, and players can always return back to their “home” Realm. This means if you’ve completely emptied out a Realm or have run out of things to do, you can generate new Realms to explore with different enemy times, varying difficulties, and even new NPCs. I generated around five Realms during my time with Nightingale, testing out the various Realm cards that I either discovered or crafted through the use of essence.

Each of these Realms was procedurally generated and featured its own set of unique challenges, NPCs, and items I could acquire either through exploration or by finding an Essence Trader on the map. Essence is one of the key ingredients players will need to create Realm cards, trade with NPCs, and repair your gear, with progress being halted through your need to increase your gear score at various intervals.

Dungeons also exist in Nightingale, but are rather straightforward and kind of boring. While they would reward me with much-needed essence and sometimes rare materials or Realm cards, I would let my co-op partner tackle them since it was really just wave clearing mostly uninteresting-looking enemies. 


There were a few designs that did catch my eye, which included a strange bird-like creature with a human face. It got me invested in the world's lore and had my wheels spinning when it came to speculating about the history of the fae realms. There are other things players can do to obtain essence which include solving puzzles, which are fairly basic, and, again, clearing enemies around smaller encampments to reclaim them. This is arguably the least engaging part of Nightingale, as base building and exploration are more or less the bread and butter of the game.

But what I liked most about Nightingale is its ability to allow players to visit and play in my Realm when I was offline. While Nightingale is definitely a “blink and six hours have passed” kind of game, I tend to get burnt out on games pretty quickly. And when playing survival games with friends I tend to be the one hosting the game, which means I need to be logged in at all times. Nightingale circumvents this, either through inviting players into your Realm or by giving them a special Realm card that they can use in arcane portals you can create to always get access to your Realm. I liked that I could log off and my friends could continue to play my game without me being online. It made Nightingale feel less stressful and less like an obligation. Also I didn’t have to shell out money to host a server, which was great.

Solo-play is also an avenue in Nightingale, but if you’re left wanting for help you can always hire NPCs that are found in each Realm. Upon completing a specific request, certain NPCs can join you and accompany you throughout any Realm you generate. You can provide them with gear so that they can also assist in your harvesting or mining, and are great to take into dungeons. You can also recruit these characters in multiplayer as well, which means you can get a party going even if it’s just you and one other friend.

When it comes to base building, there is a lot Nightingale has to offer, which makes it one of its more appealing features. There are a lot of furniture items you can craft, and lots of interesting ways to build your base. However, crafting upgrades are a little too plentiful and can clutter your base to extreme degrees. My crafting room was full of things to make crafting more efficient, as you can tie crafting items together to increase production speeds. As a result I could barely move around the room, and I had to build an additional two areas and figure out the most optimal placement for each item to get the same crafting speeds as before.

Overall, Nightingale is an engaging survival game and one that feels like you can have low commitment to in order to have fun. It’s easy to pick up and put down, and has some solid foundations. Even in its early stages, Nightingale has a lot to offer players, even if it is very clearly in Early Access. I’m eager to see what the game will be further down the line when some of these issues are ironed out, and what the core narrative of the game will eventually turn out to be. For now, I’m content logging into Nightingale for a few hours every few days just to hang out with friends and explore the vast wealth of Realms the game has to offer.

Full Disclosure: A copy of the product was provided by PR for the purposes of this early access review. Reviewed on PC.

7.0 Good Early Access Review
  • You don't need to be online for friends to play in you Realm
  • A lot on offer, even in EArly Access
  • Gaslamp Fantasy setting feels unique
  • Realm generation keeps it fresh even after hours of gameplay
  • Runs great, even on min spec
  • Serious glitches, which can halt progress
  • Dungeons are a bore
  • Crafting mechanic is way too convoluted
  • Enemy designes often leave something to be desired
  • Gear score system slows progression to a halt

Early Access Reivew: This review is based on the Early Access launch of the game, and is not reflective of the game's status when it launches its 1.0 update.

To learn more about our approach to how we review Early Access and why we are applying scores to Early Access releases now, check out this post.


Kazuma Hashimoto