Inflexion Games‘ shared-world survival crafting RPG, Nightingale, will launch in Early Access this February, to welcome players into its Victorian gaslamp fantasy world.
Global gaming media giant IGN was given exclusive access to showcase the game and its many gameplay elements, giving fans a clearer picture of what to expect when they take their first steps in Nightingale.
A wild world to explore
The initial stages of Nightingale begin in its wild Fae Realms. Players are tasked to find their way back to the city of Nightingale—but first, they must master the basics, starting with building up a home base, otherwise known as an estate, with the help of guide character, the mysterious Puck.
Viewers got a closer look at the game’s mechanics, covering movement, resource-gathering, and hunting. Nightingale aims to offer the player a sense of freedom in exploring its world, while nudging them in a direction to progress in the game.
As Inflexion CEO Aaryn Flynn told IGN: “That was definitely a challenge: to construct a game that inspired players to go and achieve their own goals instead of just dictating to them what they had to go do. And that was a real mindset shift for us at the studio.
“And so the idea there was rather than have a straight narrative set of quests…a game model we’re all very familiar with at the studio, we put the sites of power in to inspire players to say, ‘Oh, well, I wonder what’s in there. I’m curious about that.'”
Procedurally generated worlds keep the experience fresh
Nightingale has one unique trick up its sleeve—the Realm Cards mechanic. By combining three types of cards, players can open up new worlds that contain fresh mysteries and creatures to discover.
One of the three, a Biome card, determines the overall environment, and the Major card will spell its challenge level. The last, a Minor card, adds various modifiers such as weather or special abilities. The cards need to be crafted with materials in-game and can also be found in the wild, encouraging players to explore and collect.
Users can go about these tasks alone, but the game also allows players to buddy up in groups of up to five for multiplayer fun. With a group to tackle the Faewilds together, the game’s more challenging content like vaults, puzzles, and large creature hunts become more accessible challenges.
Designing the world’s large monsters
Those large monsters, or Apex Creatures, are some of the most challenging foes in the game. After Inflexion revealed the Sun Giant at Gamescom 2023, this showcase with IGN gave us a look at the Humbaba and Eoten creatures.
The Humbaba is a dragon-like beast designed to fit into the gaslamp fantasy realm. Inflexion concept art director, Steve Klit, noted that it has expressions that are almost human-like. “The face on that creature had a real kind of humanity to it that we retained in the final version that I think was really cool. You could kind of feel the personality when you’re looking into the face,” he said.
With the tree-like Eoten, art director and head of audio at Inflexion, Neil Thompson, said that the team drew inspiration from the Ents in Lord of the Rings. The result is an imposing Apex Creature that still manages to blend into the Faewilds, embodying characteristics of their natural habitats.
When players locate one, they’re in for a fight. The Humbaba can call upon Harpies to disrupt the players, while it attacks with poisonous fumes and its large body. As for the Eoten, its long roots stretch out for long-ranged combat, and smaller Eoten can join the battle to raise temperatures.
No more ‘old school‘
As Flynn tells it, Nightingale could have been a massively multiplayer online game (MMORPG) instead. But after iterating and working closely with its player community throughout development, the studio listened.
“I don’t know how you go back and do it more old school like we used to do it,” Flynn said. “There’s no substitute for having players engage and them being so generous with their time. They’re extremely thoughtful, clever…They know what they want to play.”
“We work very hard on a lot of the systems that help us collect feedback and pair it with telemetry,” said Inflexion production lead Leah Summers. “We’ve got analysts on the team, and so we are putting a lot of value in how to get feedback, how to organize feedback at scale so that we can bring it back to the dev team to say, ‘Hey, this is what’s really important to players.'”
This feedback also paved the way for big changes such as a third-person perspective and arachnophobia mode. Other smaller quality-of-life changes were also influenced by the community, allowing Nightingale to be polished further even before officially becoming available.
With Early Access, the studio expects to kick up feedback gathering a big notch. “If you look at Baldur’s Gate 3, I think [Larian Studios] did something truly remarkable by launching their game and then having almost three years in Early Access, and learning from their players,” Flynn said.
“I think they definitely showed that approach can work for any experience…It can and should be a valuable evolution for the overall culture of the industry.”
Nightingale will be released in Early Access on Steam and the Epic Games Store this February.