Format Reviewed: PC
Provided By: Messhof
Nidhogg 2 combines intense high stakes combat with retro charm to create a fun local-multiplayer experience. Like gladiatorial combat, Nidhogg 2 is grotesque and challenging, with each move potentially being your last. Each match will have you repeatedly duel your opponent as you try to push yourself to the end of the stage.
These duels start and end in moments with players dying in one hit. This frailty causes combat to become a flurry of feints and dodges as you try to find an opening to strike. Yet while every duel has high stakes, the individual matches are quite forgiving. With each match containing multiple stages, players have plenty of duels to decide the victor.
The combination of intricate techniques and risky plays are all built from a simplistic, yet intuitive control system. While there is no tutorial to teach players individual moves and attacks, combat gives players the ability to experiment without costing them the match.
And you will have to experiment, as there are a variety of weapons to learn and master. May it be the fast throws of the knife, or the quick lunges of the rapier, players must know how to both use and counter each weapon to win. This creates a steep learning curve and can overwhelm new players who just want to jump in and play.
Luckily, Arcade Mode eases players into to the combat of Nidhogg 2, introducing new weapons and stages throughout the playthrough. Like most fighting games, Arcade Mode is short and insubstantial, giving neither context nor interest to the combat and world. Even with the online leaderboards, Arcade Mode serves as a quick introduction to Nidhogg 2’s combat system and nothing more.
These combat arenas however, are both interesting visually and strategically. Players must not only outmatch each other, but also navigate arenas filled with traps and challenges. This could be as simple as fighting on uneven terrain, to as challenging as fighting on conveyor belts with traps on either side. These variables continually make combat interesting, no matter which stage you’re on.
Tying the gruesome combat together is a grotesque art style that further emphasizes the brutality of each duel. Blood and gore will fill the battlefield as players repeatedly fight and die. While the characters themselves are ugly and unimpressive, the stages look beautiful and set the perfect scene for combat. While the game occasionally looks disjointed with its combination of disgust and beauty, it serves as an entertaining backdrop to the challenging combat.
Nidhogg 2 is simplistic yet intense. While a steep learning curve and forgettable single-player may turn off new players, fluid combat makes the game a joy to play. It’s clear that the game excels in providing a slew of interesting challenges that keeps players coming back for more. Replayable and brutal, Nidhogg 2 shows how deep combat doesn’t require extreme complexity.