The first Nidhogg released in 2014, and was quickly followed-up by games like TowerFall and Samurai Gunn. These games led a sort of renaissance of local multiplayer focused games that strengthened the idea of eSports games being more than mainstream titles like Dota, Call of Duty or StarCraft. Nidhogg showed the game industry that indie developers could create highly competitive titles. Now the studio behind Nidhogg, Messhof, is back with a sequel, and it achieves at delivering new changes without losing any of its quirky personality.
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC (Win, Mac)
MonsterVine was provided with a code for review.
Nidhogg 2 retains many of the same fundamentals of its predecessor, which means fans will adjust easily in this game. For new players, here’s the rundown of what to expect in Nidhogg 2’s gameplay: two players are pit in a tug-of-war style match where each player must run into the other’s end of the arena to win. Each player must kill their opponent to gain control of the screen so that they can run to the next stage of the level.
The back-and-forth gameplay is tense as the smallest slip-up can mean your opponent will get the best of you and get closer to your end of the arena. Nidhogg 2’s controls are easy to grasp but come with a lot of depth. You can throw your weapon at your opponent, perform a slide kick or a dive kick, or you can simply dodge your opponent when you already have control of the screen. Players can also kick their opponent to death in brutal fashion.
While fans of the original game may think all of that sounds the same, Nidhogg 2’s gameplay does evolve thanks to the addition of new weapons. These weapons include a broad sword, a dagger and a bow and arrow. Each weapon behaves differently, for example the bow introduces ranged combat to Nidhogg 2. Daggers require players to get in close and the broadsword is slow but can easily knock a weapon out of your opponents’ hands. Each weapon can be easily countered however, which makes combat interesting. Arrows can be bounced back towards its user. Broad swords are easily out-maneuvered by the game’s smaller-more pointy fencing-like sword.
Thanks to the new weapons, Nidhogg 2 starts to feel more like a fighting game than its predecessor, probably the biggest and most welcoming change. There’s a lot of depth to be found in Nidhogg 2’s gameplay and it’s exciting to see all of it unfold in a single match. Under the default rule set (you can customize the rules before each match in local mode), players will spawn with a new weapon after they die. I really like how it forces players to quickly adapt to a new weapon on the fly as their enemy bearing down on their neck.
The only issue I had with the new weapons is that it made matches carry on longer than what felt necessary. Since every attack can be countered, I found that players can be stuck on one screen for too long, and that was draining. Stalemates are intrinsic of tug-of-war style gameplay, but in Nidhogg 2 it started detracting my interest in some of the matches I played. I was more excited about longer matches ending rather than me winning them.
Nidhogg 2 comes with singleplayer and multiplayer modes. The multiplayer modes are divided into local and online, but at the time of writing this review, I was unable to get into an online match. In local, players can adjust the rule sets and add in modifiers like low-gravity and boomerang throws. Some mods made the game almost unplayable, but at least it was funny as hell.
There’s also an option to create a tournament for up to eight players. The tournament can be adjusted for double-elimination, an important feature for eSports enthusiasts. The only thing missing is a statistic page at the end of each match. I would’ve loved to see the amount of kills and death I racked up in a single match. It also would be great to know which weapon performed the best and which screen in a level was the most dead-locked. Hopefully Messhof can patch in a stats page down the road.
The single player arcade mode gives players a good run through of all the maps and weapons. Each AI you’ll face in the arcade mode will become increasingly harder which gave me a good sense of the Nidhogg 2’s depth.
Nidhogg 2 looks very different from its predecessor. The first game had a pixelated aesthetic akin to games from the 1980’s. For the new game, Messhof changed up the art style with a more absurd cartoon aesthetic which reminded me of Celebrity Deathmatch. Nidhogg 2 is visually over the top with limbs and organs exploding from a dead opponent to background scenes highlighting the weirdness of the world created by Messhof. It’s disgusting in a comedic and welcoming way. Its vibrancy helps sell the game as step up from its predecessor.
The music is also more of what players heard in the first game. Electronic beats fuel the matches from artists Mux Mool, Daedlus and more. Nidhogg 2’s overall presentation fits in well with its frenetic gameplay.
The Final Word
Describing Nidhogg 2 as “more of the same” I think undersells the work Messhof put in to make it stand above its predecessor. Nidhogg 2 feels like a fuller version of its fundamentals with expanded art and music. Some of the gameplay additions make matches unnecessarily longer but the depth it adds is rewarding. It doesn’t lose any of its unique and quirky personality found in the first game, which is always a refreshing thing to notice in a sequel.
– MonsterVine Rating: 4.5 out of 5 – Great