Game Reviews

‘Nidhogg 2’ Review: Freaky Facelift

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Quick Take: Nidhogg 2 is a great sequel, and overall an amazing game if you have a friend or two to play with. It takes all the good from the original and gives it some much needed new features and visual makeover. Even after hours of back and forth duels, we were never bored.

I played the hell out of the original Nidhogg. It featured some retro Atari-era graphics and a basic concept; two players race against each other to opposite ends of a playing field, the first to get there wins. Players were given a sword and could attack using high, mid, and low stabs, or just throw it at the opposing player. One hit kills and whoever was last to get a kill can move toward their finish line. With a bit of tug of war, and basic fencing, Nidhogg was the most fun, two person indie game I had ever played. Now developer Messhof is back with Nidhogg 2. I was originally a bit sceptical after seeing the major facelift and graphics upgrade, as newer isn’t always better.

This time around Nidhogg 2 looks, well, very different than anything I have ever seen. The closest comparison visually would be the old Clayfighters series for SNES. The player characters are built at the selection screen, using a few different base bodies, legs, and hair. Players pick from a choice of bright colors for the whole avatar. There’s not a whole lot of customization, but after previously using stickmen, it’s an improvement. Some folks may not care for the quirky design style, but I love the goofy ragdoll like movements and bright colors.

Nidhogg 2 is obviously a major change in graphics, and it’s not all weird. The 10 playable levels themselves are all beautifully rendered. Each one is distinct with tons of little easter eggs scattered about. The selection screen is even a nice throwback to Yoshi’s Island on SNES. Old timers like me will notice these little things and smile. Perpetual blood stains in the color of your character may cover the floor in disgusting dripping gore, but take the time to notice the awesome backgrounds and design. Bravo Messhof!

Gameplay in Nidhogg 2, while the same basic setup as the original, now includes multiple weapons. No longer just a fencing sword, players can now randomly spawn with a dagger, broadsword, or bow and arrows. This adds more complexity to combat. While no longer so focused on timing and placement, players must now be aware of their opponent’s weapon an alter their tactics. Much more luck is involved as well now, and I am okay with that. I found it made Nidhogg 2 more fun. There’s nobody to blame when your opponent spawns right in front of you with a bow and arrow and you take one to the face.

The music in Nidhogg 2 is catchy and various enough that even after hours of play, I wasn’t irritated. In fact, I found myself with some of these earworms in my head long after. The Arcade mode is a good starter for newbies, throwing them into all 10 levels against an AI opponent. I was able to defeat it in under 15 minutes. Couch play PvP is the best way to play Nidhogg 2, just as in the original. My friends and I played until our thumbs hurt and fatigue started to show. Switching sides does help, as most times you are pushing toward your finish line in one certain direction, that the change up helps a little. Online play seemed much more robust this time, although I was only able to find matches when choosing ranked. Some lag and stutter was apparent but a good 90 percent of online play was fine and responded well. Not something I could see myself playing regularly alone though; it’s just not as fun as taunting your friends in the same room.

Nidhogg 2 is a great sequel, and overall an amazing game if you have a friend or two to play with. It takes all the good from the original and gives it some much needed new features and visual makeover. Even after hours of back and forth duels, we were never bored. The various conditions that can be set add even more to the fun. The “Baby” condition makes both players crawl; “Low Gravity” lets you both jump like Jordan; and “Boomerang” sends thrown weapons back at the player. It might not be for everyone, and certainly not for a single player, but Nidhogg 2 is my new all-time favorite two-player game, sorry O.G. Nidhogg. At an MSRP of $14.99, it’s the best money you can spend for a good time with friends in front of your screen.

Nidhogg 2 is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC. This review is based on a PS4 code provided for that purpose.

SCORE: 4.5 out of 5

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