Nidhogg 2 is a 1v1 fighting game in which players fight for the right to be sacrificed to the nidhogg.
Release Date: August 15th, 2017
Platforms: Windows, Mac, PlayStation 4
Nidhogg 2 is a 1v1 fighting game in which players fight for the right to be sacrificed to the nidhogg, a tug-of-war in which the last player to get a kill gets to continue moving forward until they are killed. It is vastly improved over its predecessor, offering an entirely new art style, customizable characters, several new weapons, an improved and expanded combat system, new maps, and more. Players can either fight against other players in local and online multiplayer or take on a series of increasingly more difficult AI in the game’s single-player arcade mode.
- An all-new art style – experience the Nidhogg universe like never before with an all-new, detailed art style.
- An improved and expanded combat system – Nidhogg 2 allows players to knock each other over, divekick each other, disarm each other by kicking their opponent’s weapon, and curbstomp each other’s faces.
- Customizable characters – customize the character that you take into battle by changing their hair style, clothes, accessories, and more.
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By Matt Chelen
We were laughing within minutes of beginning our first match. I had played Nidhogg 2 with Kat and we had selected a map that has pits that you can fall into. It was about the fourth or fifth time that I had divekicked into her character, attempting to knock her over so that I could stab her and get past, but had failed, rebounding off and falling into a pit instead. Despite the repeated failure in the exact same manner, costing me the only lead I’d had every time, I was laughing. It’s just that kind of game.
Part of the reason that Nidhogg 2 is so enjoyable is the art style had been met with scathing criticism. The characters are probably best described as goofy, lending to a competitive, but not-so-serious environment during play. Even some of the levels, which include a dancing tree, a nightclub, and a nidhogg that you have to literally run through, it dramatically opening its mouth each time as its tongue flops to the ground, give the game a less-than-serious vibe that helps it to remain enjoyable even during the most disastrous of defeats.
It also helps that gameplay is fast-paced and tightly designed. Like its predecessor, it is designed around a core set of actions that you can use in combat. You can jump, crouch, slide, divekick, change the height of your weapon, parry an attack by standing still and holding your weapon at the same height as your opponent’s weapon, throw your weapon, and kick your opponent. Unlike its predecessor, the game has several weapons and a vast amount of nuance that comes from performing the core set of actions in specific situations.
Nidhogg 2 offers players a set of four weapons: a fencing sword, a broadsword, a dagger, and a bow. The fencing sword and dagger can be held at any of the three heights, whereas the broadsword can only be held high or low and the bow can only be held mid or low. The broadsword makes up for this hole in its defences with both a basic attack that swings in an arc rather than thrusting forward and an incredible knack for disarming your opponent. Similarly, the bow makes up for the hole in its offensive capabilities and complete lack of actual defensive ability by being ranged. Regardless of their other capabilities, all weapons can be thrown by holding the left stick up long enough for your character to hold its weapon behind its head and using the basic attack button.
While this is all simple enough on its own, its nuance becomes clear the moment that you begin fighting. Over time, you will learn that, while the bow can be thrown, it will only knock your opponent down upon hitting them, rather than killing them, as other weapons would. You will learn that, upon being disarmed, you can disarm your opponent by kicking their weapon out of their hands and then subsequently steal their weapon by rolling over it. You will accidentally hold your weapon high as your opponent tries to divekick you, learning that you can counter such an attack, killing them. You will go to attack an opponent during a failed attempt at sliding past your feet and knocking you down, your character curbstomping their face in retaliation. You will accidentally deflect an arrow by holding your weapon at the height of the arrow that is headed towards you. The game even models the effects of holding a weapon on running speed, allowing unarmed players to move slightly faster. In short, the simple mechanics give way to a complex combat system that eschews the need for combos, allowing anyone to pick it up on a basic level, but offering an infinitely richer experience to those who take the time to dig deeper.
As the death count rises and you begin to learn the complexities of Nidhogg 2’s combat system, the map will slowly become strewn with the blood of you and your opponent, a monument to your failed attempts at victory. Souls will slowly float into the air in the spots where you die. It’s oddly satisfying to look back and see indications that there was, in fact, a battle held in the present location.
The game’s maps add to the complexity by offering their own unique twists. Many maps offer you the option of climbing onto higher platforms and jumping down on your enemies. Several levels feature pits that you can fall into. Some levels feature doors that can be maneuvered around in a way that blocks your opponent’s attacks while setting them up to be attacked. One map features tall grass that makes it difficult to see your opponent and their weapon. Another map even features a conveyor belt of sorts that is made of lava, speeding up the progress of the player that is closer to winning while slowing down the player that is farther from winning. Each of these has their own challenges that will ultimately require you to rethink your strategy in order to win. I was pleasantly surprised by the slight differences that the maps have from one another.
As with its predecessor, Nidhogg 2 is largely focused on multiplayer gameplay. It offers both local and online multiplayer and, although we were only able to test within the confines of the same office for the review, the netcode seems solid. I didn’t notice any lag of any kind, nor were there any disconnects. It was a smooth experience that felt as if we were playing on the same computer. However, as with any online game, that is liable to change the greater the distance is between you and your opponent.
In addition to the local and online multiplayer modes, Nidhogg 2 features an arcade mode. In this mode, you face increasingly difficult enemies as you play through its maps in sequential order. At the end, the amount of time it took you is recorded and you are shown the fastest times that have been recorded thus far on an online leaderboard. The mode could have done with additional difficulties, as the difficulty provided is fairly easy once you’ve played the game for a few hours, but the addition of a leaderboard does add to replayability. That being said, it doesn’t offer a particularly deep single-player experience.
I also want to note that the soundtrack is rather good. It represents a variety of musical styles that are used across the game’s wildly varying locales. It manages to be ambient, but distinctive and memorable. It’s the kind of music that gets you pumped, but doesn’t distract you from the task at hand, which is exactly what you want in a competitive game.
A perfect competitive game, if ever there was one, Nidhogg 2 stands out due to its smooth, fast-paced, and tightly-designed gameplay that allows anyone of any skill level to enjoy it. It is simple enough for anyone to pick up, but nuanced enough that it will take time to truly master. It is the kind of game that is enjoyable even when you are losing, an instant classic in the fighting game genre. You owe it to yourself to purchase this game.