Originally released on PS3, Vita, and PC, the Nidhogg series has finally made its way onto Microsoft’s platform. Although Nidhogg 1 remains exclusive to Sony’s consoles, Nidhogg 2 is still a great 2D fencer especially if you never played the original.
Think of Nidhogg like a game of tug-o-war. Two players face off to take down their opponent with one-hit kills using a sharp object. Once your opponent dies, the player needs to run to the opposite side of the screen, sort of like a football player running towards the end zone. However, the opponent you just killed will respawn in your way with another attempt to stop your forward progress. The overall objective is to make it to your “end zone” in which a giant worm, or Nidhogg, eats you. Is it weird that the winner gets eaten as a way to celebrate victory? Yes. But this is just one reason why Nidhogg is so great and quirky.
Nighogg 2 is essentially Nidhogg 1 only with a new visual style, new weapons, and new stages; gameplay, control, and even multiplayer remain nearly identical from the original. To be clear, this is not knocking the game as Nighogg 1 is one of my favorite games of last generation.
Visually, this sequel, in my opinion, is inferior to the original’s pixel graphics. Here, all characters look like a decomposing ghoul and just winds up being overly gross. Even the Nidhogg itself and the environment drip with a decaying zombie aesthetic. The player has more options to customize an avatar and moves with the same exaggerated moveset of the original but isn’t the same. Although still colorful and fits the gory mood of gameplay, this sequel almost seems like it is trying too hard in the visual department; the blocky but bright and well animated pixel design of the original just looked better.
In addition to the new layer of visual detail, the fighters now have access to a few more weapons. The dagger is fast but lacks reach. The bow allows for long-range attacks but defenders can send arrows back to the shooter. And the broad sword easily knocks weapons loose with its powerful but slow attack speed. The weapon mechanic adds needed depth to the sole rapier of the original. Fighters can even square off using nothing but their knuckle-dusters. Luckily, each weapon has strengths and weaknesses so one weapon shouldn’t necessary be favored or another. For example, a broad sword might place the player at a disadvantage in close quarters but a quick jab of the dagger could exploit the weak point of a fleeing enemy. Weapon options can also be turned on or off from the menu as well. The sound effects of each weapon, in addition to the double jump and ledge grabbing mechanics, helps to make combat the satisfying experience that it is.
In single player mode, the AI provides a challenging but fair fight. But thanks to a thoughtful multiplayer environment, players can compete both locally and online and even square off in eight player tournaments. Besides tweaking available weaponry, there are several quality-of-life options players can tinker with as well. Detailed leaderboards also keep replay value high with the goal of completing the campaign as fast as possible or racking up kill counts. There are also 13 Achievements, most which do not require too much challenge but yield higher Gamerscore.
The Xbox One version contains two exclusive stages over the PS4 and PC versions. Does this make this Xbox One the superior version? Not necessarily. Although each stage looks drastically different, they are still mostly composed of the same hazards, jumps and ledges, only with a new visual style. If you already own the PS4 or Steam version, you don’t have to double dip for this Xbox One edition.
Nidhogg and Nidhogg 2 are easy to grasp with its pick-up-and-play rule set. However, there is a ton of depth to the fast-paced combat, most of which will cause uncontrollable swearing and expletives. But even if you get stabbed in the face with a rapier and squirt gushing blood all over the battle field, players will still have fun. At the same time, combat is always satisfying whether fencing off against your foe or throwing your dagger from the across the screen to nail your enemy in the back of the head, gaining control of the arrow at the last second. Gameplay is always fast but just feels so, so good. Having such a simple concept with addictive gameplay makes Nighogg and its sequel a must play. Glad this title has made its way onto Xbox Live and takes advantage of Microsoft’s online landscape.
Also Try: One Strike (Switch)
Better Than: getting rope burn playing tug-of-war for real
Wait For It: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate