Nidhogg 2 emraces the joy of the original, but there isn’t enough that works to differentiate it. The FingerGuns review;
Just like the original, Nidhogg 2 is at its best when played in multiplayer, with little else to recommend it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the enormously popular original, the game tasks you with reaching the end of a level by killing a single enemy over and over again in what can only be described as murder fencing. Once your enemy is down it’s up to you to run as quickly as you can to progress to the next screen, where your enemy will respawn and you’ll need to take them down. Fail, and the enemy will run the other way off the screen to take you back to previous areas. You’ll respawn again, though you’ll need to kill them before they reach their end of the level in the opposing direction.
If you reach the final screen, victory is er, being eaten by a huge worm looking monster known as the Nidhogg, and thus, the spoils are yours. Of which there are none.
The game had a big following and as such, a sequel seemed inevitable. What’s changed this time around then?
It would be averse to not mention the new visual style. The original Nidhogg stood out due to its traditional pixel figures with would seemingly allow the game to get away with its more violent recreations of stabby murder, taking the game back to its basics and yet somehow it all looked really rather lovely, harking back to the days where gameplay was king and without question, Nidhogg’s appeal was in its aesthetic. Nidhogg 2 still runs with that idea, but looks more 16-bit than 8-bit, moving Nidhogg from the NES to the SNES, and packs in a vastly more varied colour palette with improved backgrounds and character animation, which has made me laugh on more than one occasion.
The controversial aspect of Nidhogg 2 comes in the form of its characters, which are no longer pixellated but almost Claymation characters. As previously mentioned, this allows the characters to have some kind of personality, and adds to the madness of the whole shebang. You’re able to create your own character with a single colour of your choosing, and you’ll have the joy of watching them being stabbed through the chest or curb-stomped like Edward Norton in American History X, leaving a trail of specifically coloured entrails surrounding your lifeless corpse. I personally don’t mind the visual style as it takes the game in a stronger direction, and makes it all look as bizarre as the concept originally was in the first place. Visual styles are improved upon for a reason, and it seems somewhat strange to get mad about something with will benefit the game in the long run. Should there be a Nidhogg 3, it would be cool to see them mix up the visual style again, giving each entry in the series its own identity. I’m a fan, but then I try to look at the positives rather than get involved in forum wars. Each to their own and all that.
When I say that the visuals benefit the game, they really do. In terms of backgrounds, you’re tasked with battling in a variety of different areas, whether it be airships, boats, beaches and they all look terrific, notably the level select screen, which looks like it’s been ripped directly from a 16-bit platformer, Yoshi’s Island, Crash Bandicoot style.
What else is new? Well there are new weapons for starters. Whilst you begin with the original sabre to get your thrust on, you’ve also now got bow and arrows, daggers and swords that can all be used in a variety of ways. You’re still able to throw your weapon which can come in handy in certain situations, but throw from too far and there’s every chance your enemy will simply jump over it. Combat has evolved to where you’re now able to hold your weapon at low, medium or high levels, which can also be utilised for blocking. So if you’re attacking from a high angle and your opponent is blocking, it’s not going to go anywhere, so in the short amount of time you have to make an offensive decision, you need to keep a weather eye on your opponents choice of stance, as you’ll easily be able to attack in other areas that your enemy is failing to defend.
The new weapons are useful but you may just find yourself sticking to the more traditional sabre based gameplay. It’s where the game shines and as such it’s far more fun to just go on the run as a ferocious fencing fiend rather than pretending you’re Katniss Everdeen trapped in a Mega Drive.
If you’ve played the first game it’s pretty obvious that Nidhogg 2’s appeal lies in its multiplayer, particularly the local matches. There’s very few games that can be matched when it comes to pure sweating it out with a mate next to you as you do your absolute best to get to the end of your run and there’s every chance a few friendships have been ruined because of this. It’s hilarious and an absolute must to be added to any multiplayer gaming night. I’ve played the game for several days now with my partner and to be honest it’s a wonder she’s even still with me, the amount of pure venom that comes out of our mouths whilst playing Nidhogg 2 would be enough to have any neighbours that may have heard us call the police thinking we were having an actual fist fight. It’s bizarre how much you can get away with under the guise of just being angry at a video game. But I digress…
The biggest issue with Nidhogg 2 though is just that. It’s designed for multiplayer and as such, playing it on your own is almost an experience that’s not even worth partaking in. If anything, it’s used solely as a way to practice before you play locally or take it online – though that’s a rather singular experience, too – and adds very little to the overall experience. We were expecting a little more innovation in this area, because the game feels almost like a remastered version of the original, rather than a fully fledged sequel and as such, the charm of the original game overshadows the whole thing, even if Nidhogg 2’s visuals has given the original a bit of life.
Still, for £11, it’s an absolute must for your gaming nights. Just ensure there’s a swear jar nearby.
Nidhogg 2 is available now for PC and PS4.
Developer: Messhoff Games
Publisher: Messhoff Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.