Nightingale Review: Deep, Complex, and Nuanced Survival Strategy


Nightingale released last Tuesday on Feb 20, 2024, and it’s been a while since a game has completely gripped my ever waking moment quite like this. Over the past weekend, I spent a total of about 5-6 hours relocating my base. My wife also plays, and I decided to move my workshop (and eventual house) into her realm. This involved:

  • Breaking down my house
  • Breaking down all of my crafting benches
  • Creating the initial blueprint for my workshop
  • Re-building all of my crafting benches
  • Carting over my (extremely full) storage chests
  • Creating (and organizing) my new storage system for crafting materials
  • Building my new house

And while it seems like it was a lot of work, and there was a lot of ‘grindy’ elements involved… nothing ever felt like a chore. Nightingale feels incredibly polished for an early access game. It’s also nice to be able to play the game without significant server failures.

What is Nightingale?

In case you’re out of the loop, Nightingale is the newest in a long line of “survival-crafting” games. The premise is similar to most: survive the wilds, craft gear, and explore the world. But, there are a few things that set Nightingale apart from its contemporary siblings.

For one, the exploration is procedurally generated. As you progress, you obtain “Realm Cards”. These cards serve as the generation for any worlds you want to visit. These cards increase the difficulty of the world, and change its biome. Different biomes, and difficulties, have different resources you can gather.

But these worlds are procedurally generated. If you are tired of a world, spin up a new one with just the play of a few cards. There are also minor cards that change the rules of the world – resource drops, combat, and even mixing up the drops you find.

Combat in Nightingale is similar to The Elder Scrolls series – you have a main hand (or 2-Handed weapon) and an off-hand that can hold food, light sources, or an umbrella glider. One-handed weapons have a dodge ability, while 2-handed weapons allow for blocking. There’s also a magical element to cast certain spells, but it’s secondary to weapon combat.

Nightingale’s Complex Crafting System

The crafting system, to me, is where the game shines. There are several ‘deep’ trees of items that need to be created in order to build more of the mid-game and late-game items. For example: the “Tudor” style house needs both lumber and beams. One beam takes two lumber to build, and one lumber takes two wood bundles. So, one beam takes about eight wood bundles.

It can be cumbersome to keep track of what needs to be crafted, but the blueprint system does help to alleviate this. As you create complex structures, you can lay all of the pieces out before you craft them in a blueprint. Once you have your structure planned, it will tell you exactly how many of each material you need to finalize the craft. As you create them, you can add them to the print, and the structure will materialize as the necessary parts are included.

For gear creation, the process is more involved. While you can throw any type of ingots or wood into your building, your workbenches, armor, and weapons benefit from nuanced materials. A predator hide may have health modifiers, while a prey hide increases your stamina. You can pick and choose the types of hide, metal, or bones you want to add to your gear to refine and pick your wanted stats.

This allows for a deeply customizable armor set that works for your play style. Want to use 1-handed weapons and dodge? Stack up your stamina to dodge more. Need to be more ‘tanky’ and use melee weapons? Use predator materials to stack on health and health regeneration.

What’s Next in Nightingale?

The developers have promised an offline-mode to allow you to play without internet access – currently unavailable thanks to the ‘sharded server’ infrastructure currently implemented. This isn’t a huge bother to me, but I know that for people with sub-par internet speeds or who need offline play, this will be a huge benefit. There have also been plans posted for new biomes, new gear, and new endgame content that will push the limits of highly-geared players.

For an early access game, $30 is a steal for the sheer amount of content you get, as well as several fully fleshed out gameplay loops (crafting, combat, fishing, exploration… the list goes on). I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it, and I encourage anyone who’s even a remote fan of traditional survival-craft games to pick this up now before it releases. It’s a solid title, and if the developers can deliver on their promises, this is a game that has potential to be played for years to come.