Nightingale Downs: catchup review

Nightingale Downs, the latest game by indie studio SimProse Studios, had us playing as a deer tasked with saving the woods from the evil humans. The game is, in a way. special. It has a special place in our collective heart as one of the shortest yet most repetitive games we have played.

We were optimistic about the game when we first launched into some respectable pixel art, that looked nice on the small screen of windowed mode. The game also greeted us with some atmospheric, enjoyable, yet slightly bland music. Things were looking just fine until, that is, we selected the option on the main menu to launch the game. We were flung into a generic storybook-inspired introduction, with a less than optimistic narrator rambling away to give some poorly constructed backstory to this game’s uninspired world. After almost 30 seconds of narration, we were let loose into the clearing outside the chieftain’s hut, a boring empty screen with nothing to see or interact with on it. Anyway, a dialogue box appeared telling us to talk to a cow (because why not) off to the West from our current location. Slightly baffled, West we headed.

We reached the wise cow a good ten seconds later by heading one screen to the left, encountering a three or four second freeze as the map loaded. The cow here said something vague about talking to a sheep off to the East before vanishing into thin air, never to be seen again (as cows tend to do). The game here turned into a monotony of battle after battle, death after death, every time a few steps were taken. Random battles are one thing; but when enemies only take one hit to kill, and those enemies are pigs, sheep, dogs and trees, questions need to be asked. Eventually we levelled up, oh deer oh deer. It presented us with the option to upgrade the attack or the defence of our deer… and that was it. Eventually we met the sheep, who asked us to kill pigs by the well. Whilst trying to initiate dialogue with him again in an effort to get more information, he told us that he’d “heard you had dealt with those pigs” and moved us on to the North. This monotony continued for another fifteen minutes before we reached the human’s camp, killing the leader without any dialogue and winning the game. No need to do any sort of quest or mission, as simply talking to the task giver a second time automatically completed the quest. We were left speechless as the credits rolled by, the game being offensively short, bland, and boring. What a shame.

Nightingale Downs is one of the worst games we’ve played. Zero combat difficulty, no need to complete any form of quest, boring map navigation, long delays between changing screens, and the whole game was over in under an hour. All in all a real shame, as who doesn’t want to run around as a blood-hungry deer out for vengeance?


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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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