Sunday, February 25, 2024

If You Can't Play It, Write About It

I have about half an hour before dinner. I could either play Nightingale or put the quickest of quick posts together. I logged out last night outside a "dungeon" that did not go well on first attempt. I'm not going to try and run that in thirty minutes but I do have plenty of screenshots so...

I've been playing Nightingale a lot. Steam tells me I've racked up just over twenty hours in five days and I was at work for two of those. I think this is probably the most hours I've played any game, per day, since Valheim

It's not exactly the game I was expecting, either. I went out of my way to avoid finding out very much about Nightingale before Early Access, so that's hardly surprising. I think I was imagining something along the lines of an open-world, 3D Fallen London

It's not much like that at all.

For one thing, Nightingale is much more of a puzzle game than I was anticipating. There are puzzles everywhere, although they're hardly intellectually taxing. What's more, some of them are jumping puzzles. I very much was not expecting those.

There are difficulty settings but they mostly affect combat, as far as I know. Those are good for getting through tough "dungeons"but I'm not sure they can help much with the non-combat challenges, although the Minor Arcana certainly can. We'll get to how that works later, I expect. When I actually understand it.

Fortunately, if you can't jump, you can climb. Or build. Stairs, ramps, scaffolding, bridges.... It's a weird game that gives you jumping puzzles and then lets you avoid having to do any jumping. 

But then, Nightingale is turning out to be quite a weird game. In so many ways.

For example, I certainly didn't anticipate spending half my time gliding through the air, hanging onto an umbrella like a steampunk Mary Poppins. It's hella fun even if it is nearly impossible to steer. 

Gliding chews through stamina at a terrifying rate but there are ways to change that. Quite a lot of ways. There seem to be quite a lot of ways to affect everything. I didn't expect that, either. It's like modding the game in real-time, from within.

Overall, Nightingale seems to be much more of a "game" than I imagined, even though it absolutely is a survival sandbox as well. At least at the stage I'm at, it has a narrative strucrture and a linear plotline as well as all the usual survival mechanics. It's almost like playing two genres at once.

An anecdote: the screenshot above was taken following what may have been my most Valheimesque moment since I last played Valheim. I was edging along the coast when night fell. I couldn't go right because I'd drown in the sea. I couldn't left because I didn't have the stamina to climb the cliffs. I couldn't just wait it out because I was in danger of becoming exhausted from lack of sleep and I was getting too tired to fight off the maurading Bound and spiders that kept coming at me out of the darkness.

In the end I had to build myself a hut and put down a bedroll so I could get through until daylight. Then I found the cave where the spiders were coming from and discovered a portal to another Realm entirely. That never happened in Valheim.

But that's just how things are right now. Adventure, mystery, discovery and wonder at every turn. After a while all of it will start to feel codified and familiar but for the moment it still seems other-worldly and magical.

I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide