☆ Review: Nidhogg 2 "There will be (multi-coloured) blood" ☆ #Nidhogg2

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Nidhogg 2 - PC

I played the first Nidhogg game a couple of years ago at a friend’s house whilst drunk and had a good time with it.

It was only when I was sent this review copy that I remembered how much fun it actually was and cursed myself for forgetting to buy it and smash into it some more at the time.

I’m pleased to say that Nidhogg 2 does what the sequel should in this case and stays true to the original’s roots whilst improving on every aspect.

The premise in Nidhogg 2 is much the same as the first game, it’s a side-scrolling one-hit kill fighting game where the goal is to attack your opponent to get them out of the way and peg it several screens past them to win by getting eaten by a huge god-like serpent, obviously (the titular ‘Nidhogg’, more info here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%AD%C3%B0h%C3%B6ggr).

The premise is simple but what makes it work are the tightness of game play, speed and well-balanced weapons and tactics that make up the game. For example, there are four weapons available which are randomly assigned each time that you spawn; dagger, rapier, broadsword and a bow and arrow. Each has its own benefits, the dagger can deflect arrows and is swift on the attack, the broadsword does a cutting sweep that arcs, killing the opponent should they try to slide past you or jump over you, the rapier can kill the other person by just standing still and allowing them to run into you and is a more precise, poke-y weapon and the bow and  arrow are long-range and have infinite arrows (the amount of times that I re-spawned, quickly threw what I thought was a sword at my enemy to stop them getting away and realised that I’d just thrown away my bow, like a goose-knocker…)

It  may seem like  a small arsenal, but due to the style of the game play and how well worked-out the balancing is in the game, it feels right. No weapon is clearly better than the other and so each re-spawn gives you an opportunity to gain back some much needed distance. There are also other neat touches in the game such as the ability to push diagonally down as you run past a fallen weapon, which makes you roll over it whilst picking it up, action-film style whilst making your escape. I NEVER got bored of that!

Speaking of the controls, they are very straightforward and allow even new players to dive into the action with only a few buttons being used throughout the game.
There are ten stages that make up the world of Nidhogg 2, all very different aesthetically but similar in setup. There are the usual ice and lava worlds, but also a castle, dungeon, swamp, nightclub, etc. to add some variety. The graphics are all chunky and bright, they reminded me of Toejam and Earl with their wonderfully garish yellows, pinks and purples but also Splatterhouse 2 in their fleshiness and finally Splatoon, in that multi-coloured blood is sprayed around the levels in a paint-like fashion with gay abandon.

Whereas the overall style of the original Nidhogg was reminiscent of the 8-bit era, Nidhogg 2 leans more towards the 16-bit style which furthers the feel of a jump in quality from its predecessor. Animations are smooth and if unarmed, you can kick your opponent down and stamp on their head in a gory finale, before skedaddling past them, making up some hard-earned distance.
The game play in Nidhogg 2 has an incremental style of gaining points, much as how in the Codemasters classic top-down racer Micro machines you have to reach the end of the screen to gain a point, in Nidhogg 2 you have to reach the far side of the screen to raise your score. The same style of play is used in Speedrunners (and my dear favourite, Wrecked) and is a style of play that I never tire of as I find it works so well in a back-and-forth tension-filled multiplayer game.
I played Nidhogg with my girlfriend for a few rounds instead of online and as a local multiplayer game; it’s one of the best and most frantic games that I’ve ever played. The tempers will rise, let me assure you, as you desperately try to hack down your friends and family’s character in a bid to make it past them, dodging daggers and arrows, cursing yourself as you miss a jump and fall into icy waters, the precious few seconds before you re-spawn giving ground to your enemy as they run past your sinking  corpse, or just as you are about to make it to the next screen, a hastily thrown dagger smashes into your back, briefly taking you out of the game and giving the advantage to your nemesis.
There are several options that you can alter such as gravity, disabling certain weapons or forcing the players to crawl, etc. and there is also a very light character customisation screen which offers a few ways to alter the look of your player but this isn’t a particularly deep system and as the game doesn’t save your look, is more an afterthought than anything that alters the game in a meaningful way but still, is a nice touch and adds a level of variety.

Nidhogg 2 supports both local and online play in exhibition matches and tournaments, it also has a single player arcade mode but, much as in my previous review for Super Blood Hockey (and also this applies to the games I’ve mentioned previously in this review) this game is really meant for multiplayer and it definitely shines. As usual in this type of game, the mileage you will get out of it will vary depending on how often you play with friends or with strangers over the internet but if this does strike a chord with you; it will remain in your Steam library for a long, long time. I’ve added this to my ever-growing list of awesome multi-player games alongside Towerfall, Bomberman & Speedrunners as it has the same pick-up and play timeless feel to it, and I know I’ll be returning to it for years to come.

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Messhof

Reviewed By Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)

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