Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. I remember my days at Uni where me and my buddies would relentlessly play the original game till dawn and drank shots and whenever the great Nidhogg came to feast. So there were plenty of shots! Remember kids, don’t drink and game. It's a dangerous combo.
Back on track now! Nidhogg 2 is the sequel to the smash hit fencing game which took Steam by storm back in 2014. It was extremely simple yet highly captivating by introducing gamers to a dynamic tug of war style game that involved fencing and sprinting. It was a refreshing formula to competitive gaming and left an impression on many gamers. Now the sequel has been out on Steam since late last year, but finally Xbox One owners can relish in this brilliant and wacky fencing game. There have been some drastic changes to its visual style which may upset some fans, yet everything else is kept close to the core gameplay of the original with some minor tweaks.
First let’s discuss the major overhaul for Nidhogg 2's presentation as it's very different from the original. What made Nidhogg so memorable were the retro inspired visuals, incorporating simple uses of colour and a lack of textures. This actually worked very well in Nidhogg’s favour as it gave a surrealistic vibe that matched the gameplay and fast pacing. When I saw the reveal of Nidhogg 2 I was taken back by the immense change to the visual style.
Don't get me wrong, I do love the effort and detail that’s clearly gone into making bright and colourful world. It's actually a style which works well with the tone of the gameplay and logically it's the right step to take. I can understand why some fans may not like the change of aesthetics but overall it's visually pleasing and at least keeps in tone with the gameplay. But I will admit the original had an alluring charm, with its extremely bare bone visuals that worked well with the energetic pacing.
What the updated visuals do however is give a stronger sense of world building by adding a story behind every level in much more depth. There is some great environmental story telling taking place, great detail in the landscapes and a sense of meaning for these duelling weirdos to fight it out. From fighting on castles plotted in the clouds, to fighting through enchanted forests and inside the belly of giants beasts, we can sense the epic scale to this world. I especially like the weird, Homer Simpson looking Nidhogg creature overall and felt like it represented what a giant, pink worm eating me would look like!
Framework for Nidhogg 2 remains largely the same with two players fighting to the death and then the survivor having to run to the goal on the opposing side before his rival comes back to take a stab at them. So it goes from stabbing your foe, running, dodging, running and being eaten by a giant flying worm! What’s not to love? Players will have to traverse large spanning areas, avoiding contact with their opponent and doing everything they can to make it to the end. One of the major inclusions to Nidhogg 2 is a variation of weapons that include short swords, long swords, axes and bows and arrows. Each weapon has their own stats that include speed, power and range which matter a huge deal when it comes to gaining an advantage. Environment layouts are simple yet offer tactical advantages and narrow corridors to intensify the final run to the finish line.
Mechanically speaking, Nidhogg is a very simple, very engaging experience which is more fun with people. The single player experience is sadly limited with an arcade mode being the main highlight from the co-op experience. There are modifiers which can be applied yet this is only for the co-op mode.
Nidhogg is a colourful, brutal and highly compelling competitive multiplayer that sticks to the roots of the original game yet gives it a complete visual makeover. There are a few new features in the main game including a few additional weapons which helps give a tactical edge to gameplay with some neat level design as well. There was more room for inclusions, with extra game modes being something missed with this entry. Overall Nidhogg 2 is still a very fun game much like the original but for the next game, there needs to more additions to give the game a longer life outside of multiplayer.
PRAISE THE NIDHOGG!
++ Intense and riveting tug of war gameplay
+ Colourful and beautiful
- Short life outside of multiplayer
An Xbox One copy of Nidhogg 2 was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review