Competitive fighting games seem like all the rage these days. From Tekken to TowerFall, players around the world compete daily, either on the couch or on an online headset, vying with friends and foes in pursuit of fame and glory. No matter how gaming has evolved over the years, one thing remains constant: people just seem to love beating the stuffing out of one another.
Developed by Messhof Games, Nidhogg 2 brings a unique and interesting tug-of-war approach to the fighting game genre. Provided with a handful of different weapons, two opponents face off, either via AI or online. These combatants participate in an intense and exhilarating duel, with the goal being to reach the opponent’s final screen. Doing so rewards players with the rather interesting reward of getting sacrificed to the Nidhogg, the game’s namesake.
Drawing comparison to simple yet deep fighters like Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros., Nidhogg 2 is a fun and competitive experience that offer hours and hours of fun multiplayer mayhem. Despite a slow-burning campaign and some frustrating difficulty, the game deserves a spot in your library as a top multiplayer fighting game.
Learning the Basics
Having never played the first Nidhogg, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I loaded up the game for the first time. The game’s single-player content consists of an arcade mode that pits you against an AI across a variety of different levels. At first, playing arcade mode was pretty underwhelming and felt rather one-dimensional. The game provides the player with only one type of weapon, and completing early levels is simply a matter of positioning the sword at the right elevation to proceed.
However, in the later levels of the 10-stage arcade mode the game gets exponentially more difficult, as the AI becomes more aggressive and obtains new behaviors and play-styles. Each few levels also introduces a new weapon type, giving the player a random chance of getting four different weapons: a rapier, a broadsword, a bow and arrow, and a dagger. In doing so, Nidhogg 2 creates a pseudo weapon triangle where each weapon has its advantages and disadvantages against another weapon. This rock-paper-scissors mechanic ends up providing a ton of depth and allowing for intense duels filled with epic comebacks.
While those who played the original Nidhogg may find it to be more of the same, for those new to the series, Nidhogg 2’s arcade mode should provide a few hours of frustrating yet nail-bitingly thrilling gameplay.
Taking Things to the Next Level
Although the arcade mode is impressive in its own merit, Nidhogg 2’s greatest potential lies in its multiplayer. Similar to fighting games such as Super Smash Bros., Nidhogg 2, at its core, is a party game meant to be played with close friends, either in quick one-on-one matches or in a longer tournament style. For the more competitive players, Nidhogg 2 also has a ranked matchmaking system.
Thanks to the amount of depth provided by Nidhogg 2’s various systems, no individual game will play out in exactly the same way. Games can be a quick one-and-done affair, or can turn into long, epic battles filled with close calls and crazy comebacks. And with additional game mechanics on display, including dive-kicking, rolling, reflecting arrows, and many others, there isn’t a single dull moment while playing.
A Visual Feast
Stepping aside from Nidhogg 2’s gameplay, visually the game looks amazing. With a wide range of silly yet intricate backdrops, each stage feels completely unique, introducing environmental hazards and numerous platforms that allow for aggressive plays and counter-plays. Compared to the more minimalist-style backgrounds from the first Nidhogg, it is exciting to see the game add such vibrant and colorful backgrounds. Although they are just backdrops, it is hard to ignore the extreme and meticulous detail that undoubtedly went into each one. Every character is also customizable with additional hairstyles, tops, bottoms, and accessories that add to the goofiness of the game.
Overall, Nidhogg 2 is well worth a purchase. The game is easily accessible, with only a small learning curve to pick up the mechanics of each weapon. At the same time, there is also a high ceiling to Nidhogg 2’s gameplay, as combos such as dive-kicks and rolls can be mastered and perfected through additional runs through its arcade mode. Its solo campaign may suffer from some simple early levels and uneven difficulty spikes in the later half, but its multiplayer should provide countless hours of entertainment, whether you’re playing alone or with friends.
Although not as popular as the other big fighting games, Nidhogg 2’s uniqueness makes it stand out as one of the greats.