Review – Nidhogg 2

Nidhogg 2

Just a forewarning: I never played the first Nidhogg, but I’m starting to think maybe I should. Even after playing Nidhogg 2 for a while, conquering the arcade mode a handful of times and messing around with the local multiplayer. . . I still have no idea what Nidhogg 2 is. Why are these characters fighting each other to get to the end just to be eaten by a massive flying worm? That’s literally the entire point of the game and it is never explained. Hell, there isn’t even a training mode or tutorial. You just hop right into an arcade mode and start fighting. Even though you’ll have no idea WHY, it is still pretty dang entertaining to gore your opponents in what I assume is just a very unique fighting game.

This is typically the paragraph where I give a synopsis of what the game is about and some plot points, but there isn’t much to say. Nidhogg 2 is all gameplay and it doesn’t care if you don’t know what is going on. But to elaborate a little more on what I wrote above, Nidhogg 2 is a 2D, side scrolling, 1v1 fighting game where you need to use various weapons and melee to make your way to the end where you’ll then be eaten by a flying worm and be crown victor. That’s about it, so let’s jump into the gameplay.

Nidhogg 2

Why getting eaten by this giant flying worm is considered winning is still a mystery.

There are only a handful of modes to play so unfortunately there isn’t a ton of replayability, considering I couldn’t find any online matches to participate in I wasn’t able to test it out. Besides online multiplayer there is an arcade mode and a local 1v1 and local tournament that features up to 8 players. Arcade mode will pit you against an AI enemy who will ramp up difficulty as you progress through the stages. The longest an arcade match took me was 32 minutes and that was my very first run when I had no idea about the various moves you can do that they don’t teach you. Strangely the arcade mode does not feature a difficulty setting so there is no way to challenge yourself further.

Like I mentioned above the gameplay is a 2D 1v1 fighting game, but there is a certain level of skill and strategy involved in it. Since they also don’t tell you how to play there is a decent learning curve to hurdle over for some of the less obvious moves. Besides the basic attack, jump, and changing your stance level there is also a roll/slide and the ability to throw your weapon. Roll/slide is just pressing down as you’re running forward to roll and then press attack to slide tackle. Throwing your weapon is just pressing up and the attack button at the same time. Once you learn all your moves, it comes down to outmaneuvering your opponent.

Nidhogg 2

Killing your opponent with a Rapier to the face is both skillfully and visually satisfying.

There are only 4 weapons, excluding hand-to-hand, to figure out and each one has their advantages and disadvantages. The Rapier allows for a high, mid and low stance and is very effective for sending arrows back at enemies. The Broad Sword is powerful with a high and low stance and can knock the Rapier right out of your opponent’s hands. The Dagger also has a high, mid and low stance but is a lot faster than the Rapier. It allows faster running speed and you can throw it much faster. The Bow is the hardest weapon to get used to because you have to knock the arrow by holding attack. It can shoot mid and low, but can be deflected and sent back to you if a Dagger or Rapier is in the proper stance. It is also the only weapon that will not instantly kill your opponent when thrown at them.

As you progress through the arcade mode more weapons unlock to you, but you don’t get to choose which weapon you want. You will just cycle through them upon each death so you’ll want to keep a mental note for what weapon your opponent is going to spawn with next. All of this comes together in an interesting fashion and while not overly complex there is still enough depth here for some addicting back and forth fights.

I have never been one that requires really good graphics to enjoy a game and I usually appreciate a heavy stylized art style over realism, but Nidhogg 2 has a very interesting visual style. I’m not even sure how to describe it. It has a mix of pixel art, but the characters look like puppets. Even the animations resemble the characters being puppets the way their limbs sort of flail around. It’s not exactly a bad art style, but it isn’t exactly visually appealing.

The soundtrack on the other hand is extremely well done, featuring some fantastic songs from Mux Mool. I’m not even typically a big fan of the electronic house music genre, but I found myself looking up the soundtrack and listening to a good amount of it. I feature one of Mux Mool’s songs in the gameplay video I have embedded here and I encourage you to have a listen. As for the other sound effects, they could use some work. Not that they’re bad, but the swords clanging together sound a bit low quality.

Even though I sill have no idea what the overall point of the game is, I couldn’t help but enjoy the wacky nature of the game and the simple yet skill based combat. Unfortunately I was not able to test out the online multiplayer, but even if I could Nidhogg 2 still lacks enough modes to keep me coming back for more. The lack of a difficulty setting is also a let down for the arcade mode.

Graphics: 7.0

Not the most visually appealing art style, but it does fit the overall wacky theme of the game.

Gameplay: 7.5

Very simple mechanics that you’ll be able to pick up within one arcade round, but has enough depth to stay interesting.

Sound: 9.0

Absolutely love the soundtrack and the gore kills are well done. Some of the weapon sound effects are a little off though.

Fun Factor: 8.0

It is extremely lacking in modes and I wasn’t able to get in an online match, but arcade and local multiplayer are very fun. There is something addicting about the gameplay, even if it isn’t perfect.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Nidhogg 2 is available now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

A copy of Nidhogg 2 was provided by the publisher.