What we’ve been playing | Eurogamer.net

8th March 2024

Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we’ve been playing over the past few days. This week: first impressions, mazes, and zombie apocalypses.

If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We’ve Been Playing, here’s our archive.

Nightingale, PC

I’ve been playing a lot of Nightingale in the last couple of weeks, and I think there are good ideas there but also a lot of frustration. The game is too eager to have you grind, and it suffocates all of the more interesting things it’s trying to do. I wrote about this in much more detail in my Nightingale Early Access impressions piece published yesterday.

Zoe has been playing a lot of Nightingale too. Here are her thoughts.Watch on YouTube

But there’s an additional thought I want to get into here, and it’s about first impressions, because I worry, now, that Nightingale won’t get to make them again. A game gets one real moment in the sun, one chance to arrive and convince people there’s something worthwhile about it, and I’m not sure Nightingale has done enough.

It’s the risk-reward of an Early Access release. You get the chance to put your game out there and earn extra income to develop it with, as well as get invaluable community feedback to shape it with, but you also run the risk of turning people away with an unfinished product. There’s usually a palpable sense of excitement around a game even with this, particularly with survival crafting games, but in Nightingale’s case, I don’t see it.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of other big survival crafting games like Enshrouded and Palworld being out, and co-op sensation Helldivers, which is doing better than I think anyone expected. Whatever the reason, Nightingale has not caught on; it’s not even in Steam’s top 100 most played games.

The message from Inflexion, the developer, will of course be: “Look to our 1.0 release!” Whenever that may be, presumably a year or so from now. Clearly, there’ll be another big push then. But will it be enough to overcome a muted first impression, and to appeal in a crowded 2025 on top of that?

I hope I’m wrong because I like a lot of what Nightingale is about, but I fear for it.

-Bertie

Mazescape, tabletop


A photo of a pile of paper leaflets for the game Mazescape - a game about drawing mazes. And it's mazes we see on these booklets here.
Amazing Mazescape. | Image credit: Pablo Céspedes and Víctor Hugo Cisternas / Thames and Kosmos

Mazescape is a game from Pablo Céspedes and Víctor Hugo Cisternas, who run a studio in Chile. You buy the box and inside you have a leadless pencil sort of thing which works as a pointer, and a series of maze maps that all unfold in complex ways.

The aim is to get from the start of the maze to the end, without taking the pointer off the page and without leaving the white tracks. You can go up steps and under bridges but you have to stay on the path you’re on. The fun comes from the fact that when you reach the edge of a page, you might be able to unfold the page you haven’t moved onto yet, opening up new paths and new connections. It’s basically a Mad Magazine fold-in that you can play.

Alongside just getting to the exit there are a range of optional goals. On the first maze, which I’ve just completed, I had to collect three treasure chests and switch on the nearby lighthouse. I play, and sometimes lose my place, and feel a gentle panic mounting. And I also wonder what Greg Bright, the genius of maze designers, would make of such a thing as this.

-Chris Donlan

Dead Island 2, Xbox Series X


Cover image for YouTube video13 Awesome Dead Island 2 Easter Eggs & Secrets – GORE BLIMEY!


Tips for your next visit to zombie-riddled LA.

Full disclosure: I cannot handle horror movies. If anyone ever mentions watching one I will ‘nope!’ my way out of the room. I’m not sure what it is I can’t deal with but the entire genre is something I can’t do. So why, dear reader, can I happily sit through mildly horror-themed games like Dead Island 2?

I think it’s because I’m in control. If a zombie decides that feasting on a corpse hanging out a car window is no longer for them, and I’m on the menu, I know I’ve got a pitchfork waiting for them. Even the odd jumpscare while peeking through people’s abandoned LA homes is more manageable because I can push back.

Dead Island 2 fully leans into the humorous side of a zombie apocalypse, which helps. Nothing in this game is truly terrifying. Last night, I had to fight a boss that was a large zombie in a wedding dress. She just popped out after the words “Dance with the Bride” appeared – there was no tension, no build up – and seeing a zombie whose face was melting off while wearing a gorgeously ornate wedding dress was hilarious.

Also, I now understand why the Scooby Doo gang made such elaborate traps to catch their ‘villains’: watching your questionable ideas come together to capture – or in my case eliminate – your targets is very fulfilling. The other night, I accidentally set off a car alarm which drew a horde of zombies to me, so I used a canister to spread water in a dividing line between us, me and them, and then lit it up using a car battery. Sparks flew, zombies were electrocuted, and I walked away. A meat cleaver would have been faster, but Dead Island 2 is all about improvisation, elaboration, and choice. It’s my apocalypse after all.

-Marie


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