Nidhogg was one of those game I never tried until I got it really cheap on a PSN sale. It was a super simplistic fighting game where the goal was to cut down your enemy and make it to your side of the level to win. The back-and-forth gameplay was infectious, and I found it to be one of the best local multiplayer experiences in recent memory.
Now, Nidhogg 2 is here with new weapons, more levels, and a drastically different art style. Does it manage to do better than its predecessor, or is it not worthy to be sacrificed to the cosmic worm? Let's find out!
A Simple but Clever Premise
Nidhogg 2 takes a very simple approach to the fighting game genre. You have several weapons that can potentially spawn, eight levels to choose from, and one specific goal. You need to cut down your enemy and run across several screens towards your goal.
You and your enemy will go down in one hit. Once a player has fallen, a glowing arrow points the remaining player in the direction of their goal screen. After several seconds, you will respawn with a new weapon and the chance to take revenge.
If you get a kill, the glowing arrow will point in the opposite direction, and you'll need to pursue your goal on the opposite side of the level. You'll pass through several screens in either direction before reaching the end. Being devoured by the Nidhogg worm is your goal.
It's a tug-of-war at its finest, with only one hit from a weapon, or several melee punches between you and death. Does this premise carry it into the halls of greatness? Let's talk gameplay.
Weapon Variety and Unique Levels Keep Things Interesting
The original Nidhogg was a really cool idea, but it lacked a lot of customization and variety. Nidhogg 2 doubles the levels from four, to eight. it also keeps the original rapier style swords, while adding a broadsword, dagger, and a bow-and-arrow.
These new weapons, along with more interesting level design, make the fights in Nidhogg 2 more dynamic than the first. The controls are a little more floaty, but nonetheless responsive.
You can change your stance by pressing up or down, swing your weapon, or throw it in a pinch. Stabbing a fleeing enemy in the back with a sword or dagger is always satisfying.
When you're unarmed, you can always throw fists. If you land a few hits, you'll knock your opponent on their back and proceed to stomp their face in. It's actually quite gruesome, with colorful blood spraying out anytime a character is defeated.
The weapon each have a nice feel to them, and while the bow requires a few frames to pull back, it can make for a great ranged weapon. The only real issue with the weapons is that you'll spawn with a different one each time.
The bow isn't very useful in tight quarters, so when you spawn with one, you may feel cheated as you're immediately cut down. Other than that, I would say I prefer the multi-weapon options and updated level design in Nidhogg 2.
As far as single player content goes, there's not much here beyond bot matches. This game is best played on the couch with friends in one-on-one matches or by setting up a tournament of rounds.
Nidhogg 2 does offer online multiplayer as well, but the intense action is often let down by connectivity issues. The best way to play the game, by far, is local. If you're looking to play this game with friends in the same room, I can't recommend it enough.
The fast-paced action and weapon variety make it one of the most accessible fighting games ever. If you're planning on playing alone or online, your mileage and enjoyment will vary.
A Fresh Coat of Paint
Nidhogg 2 has a cartoon art style with an uncomfortable amount of detail. It reminds me of old cartoons like Ren and Stimpy in that it has a focus on grotesque character designs and environments.
The wide array of colors makes for a visually pleasing experience compared to the ultra-minimalistic style of the first game. The levels all have unique setups and artistic choices that make them stand out as well.
The ability to create a fresh new character from the ground up for each match also gives you more identity than the first game. None of your characters will be good looking individuals, but you'll have your own unique look each match.
Turning our attention to the soundtrack, Nidhogg 2 has an excellent collection of tracks composed by Mux Mool, Geotic, Osbourne, Doseone, and Daedelus.
It effortlessly switches between heavy beats and light-hearted electronic ballads. For every cheerful and upbeat track, there's a thrashing run of guttural synthetic sounds.
It fits every emotion and sensation of an intense fight. I often found myself distracted by the music as I sat in the menus picking the next level for my victims. Sorry, did I say victims? I meant opponents.
When it comes down to it. Nidhogg 2 succeeds the original in every way for me. Its core gameplay hasn't changed much at all, but that's honestly for the best. It would be nice if there was more compelling content for single player and a stronger online experience, but the local multiplayer is some of the best in the business.
If you've got some friends nearby who come over and play games regularly, it's time to sacrifice yourself to the worm!
Final Score: 8.5/10
A copy of Nidhogg 2 was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date: 8/30/17