Right out of the gate Nidhogg 2 makes a statement; it looks very different than the original. Many people have voiced their concern over this as well. Mainly over the art style, which is now much more colorful and resembles the Super Nintendo era more than the Atari. The character models are no longer faceless fencers, but instead chubby naked warriors gleaming with expressions and personality. Characters react to hits, whether that may be an arrow to the chest or a sword stab below the belt. The animations are fluid and the accompanying sound adds a weird squishy-ness to it all. Hearing the screams and squishes of a poor fencers head under several curb stomps added a brutality that was softened by over the top visuals. This adds a certain charm to the game that the first lacked due to its minimalistic nature.
With the more robust art comes even deeper gameplay. Nidhogg stays true to the original while adding some great additions that changes how you’ll be killing each other. The goal is the same, get to the other end of the screen and sacrifice yourself to the grotesque Nidhogg (the giant worm thing). How you’ll be getting across the screen is what makes Nidhogg 2 so much fun.
In the stage I got to play there were often 2 paths, high or low. This made each decision to go high or low critical to my survival. Often I would get trapped and forced to duel with my opponent, which created the tension that only Nidhogg knows how to make. Often fighting wasn’t my first choice, rather I would try to trick my fellow fencer to over commit or make a mistake and then capitalize on the situation.
Thankfully combat is still immensely satisfying and each time I took out my opposition had me cheering. That cheering usually didn’t last long, because your opponent gets right back in the mix trying to kill you. Once you respawn it’s often with a different weapon. The classic rapier is the starting weapon, but once you come back from the dead you’ll be able to wield a broadsword, axe, or even a bow and arrows. Each weapon felt a bit different and allowed for a different type of offense or defense. The broadsword’s heavy swing was great for defending off pesky dive kicks, but I often threw it away once I was running for the goal. My favorite was the bow. Attacking once will notch an arrow and upon the next attack it will fire. I loved sniping my foe then taking a few extra shots to hopefully catch his new fleshy body before he spawned.
Nidhogg is one of my favorite games to play with friends, it can be fast and fun or a back and forth bloodbath. It’s frantic nature plays great into party situations or if you’re in need for some fast competitive fun. Despite what some may think about the art style, Nidhogg 2 seems to be delivering a wackier version of the original. It’s a change that embraces the weird and down right silly gameplay that I love.
Impression are based on an early build from The PlayStation Experience 2016