The first Nidhogg dominated countless office lunch-time breaks back in 2014. Revered for its incredibly simplistic gameplay, it boasted an astonishing level of depth and replayability. Now, developer Messhof attempts to expand the fencing title with the addition of new maps, weapons, and… a startling new visual style. The end result of Nidhogg 2 is, for better or worse, both completely different and exactly the same.
You can pick the game up for PlayStation 4 at the PlayStation Store.
Nidhogg 2 pretty much retains the same objective as the original. Two fencers murder their way towards one end of a level whilst preventing your opponent from reaching the other. Players can switch to low, mid, and high stances to parry incoming attacks or exploit openings in an exciting rock paper scissor mechanic. The game still has the original concept at its core with the addition of new levels and more significantly, new weapons.
Players cycle through four weapons, each with its own unique playstyle. The broadsword swings heavily upwards and downwards, great for disarming weapons or completely obliterating your opponent into chunks of meat. The dagger has short range but is great for quick rapid stabs and makes for a speedy projectile. The bow can fire a steady stream of low or mid arrows that can be reflected back at you if you're not careful. Though the classic rapier is still the most strategic weapon in Nidhogg, it's a close tie with the broadsword when it comes to fun factor. The bow and dagger come up short on that end, but when cycled with the rest of the weapons, creates a strategic dynamic that keeps the flow of combat fluctuating.
Arcade mode gets you through all the available maps, gradually introducing you to all of the available weapons. Though the AI difficulty is enough to give you a decent challenge, it doesn't compare to the multiplayer experience. You can take on your friends in 1v1 local multiplayer, or take your game online with matchmaking and private games. Besides the standard 1v1 mode, you can also tweak the game rules with over 10 game modifiers.You can also participate in 8-player tournaments that add a little meta flare in-between bouts.
Nidhogg 2 largely maintains the original formula but with some noticeable changes. For one, the combat area is slightly more zoomed in and the avatars are also obviously larger in scale than before. As a result, the action, though still pretty fast-paced, doesn't quite match the speed of the original. Oddly enough, many of the levels don't really offer many obstacles aside from the usual fall pits and conveyor belts.
With all the new bells and whistles that Messhof has added onto Nidhogg 2, it doesn't quite capture what made the original so engaging in the first place. It isn't obvious at first, but after booting up the first game to make a direct comparison, it's easy to see, or better yet, feel the subtle differences between the two. Nidhogg 2 is still an impressive sequel, but there's definitely something that makes it feel incomplete.
Graphics and Audio
Perhaps the largest change Nidhogg 2 introduced is in its visual style. Though the game maintains the old-school look (though more 16-bit now than 8), The minimalistic visual style of the original has now been converted into a grotesque and somewhat comical look that initially reminds me of The Simpsons but gave me more of a Ren & Stimpy vibe and a bit of Earthworm Jim. All the levels are interestingly crafted, each with their own theme ranging from creepy woods to the innards of a Nidhogg beast.
The avatars are a bit more fleshed out this time around. You can customize them with shirts, pants, accessories and even hairstyle. There's not a lot to choose from and there doesn't seem to be any way to unlock more. There's more talent involved in Nidhogg's music this time around, but if I'm being honest, none of them really stood out quite as well as the original's soundtrack.
Nidhogg 2 is a solid step forward, just not in any particularly meaningful direction. The game has twice as much content as the original, but the original didn't really have much, to begin with. In spite of that, it at least manages to maintain it's multiplayer appeal. Nidhogg 2 still manages to take a spot at the top of the list of competitive party games, and lunchtime breaks will once again be splattered by heated rivalries and ruined friendships.
|+ Welcome new weapons.||– Content leaves you wanting.|
|+ Visuals are unusual in an interesting way.||– Repetitive (especially when playing solo)|