That’s the studio where Aaryn Flynn, the head of the studio that made the game, came from specifically, so it’s only fitting to compare Nightingale to BioWare’s older RPGs.
In 2019, before the formal announcement, we heard about the game as an online RPG made by BioWare’s ex-general manager’s studio using the cloud-based multiplayer platform SpatialOS and the player-created content of Neverwinter Nights was cited as inspiration. The studio has since been rebranded (Inflexion Games). Flynn now talks about how the game took elements of old BioWare RPGs and turned them into a magical, Victorian-era, shared-world crafting, survival game.
After Nightingale’s announcement at The Game Awards, Flynn spoke to Eurogamer about it. “When we began the studio, we had been thinking for a long time about an alternate history game and just loved the Victorian era. [The Victorian era lasted from 1837 to 1901, as that’s how long Queen Victoria’s reign was.] This alternate history idea is something we didn’t explore at BioWare. You know, Mass Effect is ostensibly a future with an alternate history, but we didn’t touch on that,” he said.
Nightingale deviates from the real historical events in that there are magical portals to other worlds. Still, this portal network collapses. The player characters (Realmwalkers) are trapped in these alternate worlds and have to do everything they can to survive and get to the magical city of Nightingale, which is the game’s namesake. “We had imagined the kinds of things we would build in this game and the kinds of things players would get to do in this game. [Inflexion wants to] create a world that is highly interactive and empower players to do what they want,” Flynn added.
Flynn’s comments focus on the choices available in classic BioWare RPGs rather than a sandbox. In the video, you can see first-person perspective combat, woodcutting, building, and crafting, and there are also larger creatures in the alternate worlds. There’s also a moment where the dichotomy (duality) of the world is palpable: “There’s a nice moment in there that’s meant to show the dichotomy the world will present—where a giant is bending down to receive an offering from players. That’s one way you can solve that encounter. [Combat (and the giant stomping the community) is the other option in the video. You can also get quests from NPCs.] Each challenge has different outcomes, and each decision has different consequences,” Flynn said.