Faster, messier and more swords: Nidhogg 2 is a textbook sequel.
Nidhogg 2 is horrible. Which isn’t to say that the graceful austerity of the first game has been stamped into mush by this sequel, but that its new art style is memorably grotesque. If you spliced misshapen clay men with Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, you’d get something close to Toby Dixon’s squishy, messy, delightfully grisly art—a far cry from the original game’s minimalistic visuals. The best multiplayer games are those that prompt the most spontaneous exclamations during play and that’s still true of Nidhogg 2. But now you can add ‘eww!’ to the list.
Otherwise, not an awful lot has changed. Nidhogg worked small miracles in squeezing depth and nuance from a two-button (one to jump, one to attack) control scheme. You could throw your sword, jump and dive kick or slide into your opponent. Tapping up or down changed your stance and your sword’s position. That’s all still here. Once your opponent is down, you’ll still race off towards your destination. They’ll still respawn after a few seconds. It still feels like a weird, but fun, hybrid of fencing and tug of war.
If Nidhogg 2 was to have a subtitle, it would be ‘Nidhogger’—it’s Nidhogg, only there’s more of it. There’s more variety in the weapons, for starters: Alongside a rapier, there’s a quick, highly throwable dagger, a heavier but rangier broadsword, and a slow-firing bow. Arrows can be returned to sender with a well-timed swipe, though you can return the favor in kind, which can lead to the odd silly arrowtennis interlude.
The environments, too, are different, and not simply because they’re much richer and more detailed than the spartan settings of the first. Pyroclastic flow and conveyer belts change your momentum, forcing you to readjust your tactics on the fly, there’s high ground and low ground, tunnels that see you fighting in silhouette, and rooms within rooms where doors become a factor. Even if you didn’t take to the new aesthetic at first, you might well warm to it as you play. The extra detail sometimes makes the action a little less readable than the original, but it lends a character to the battles that makes them more amusing to watch. Stomping on a grounded opponent until they’re nothing more than a puddle of brightly-colored goop is just the right level of gross to be funny.
To the point
It’s such a brilliant local multiplayer game that it almost doesn’t matter that its singleplayer component is a bit rubbish, and that its online still suffers from lag. The latter’s an improvement on the first game, but it’s still annoying for those who don’t have a friend or family member available for a scrap. But if you do—what a game. You could argue that Nidhogg 2 is an unnecessary sequel, but if you loved Nidhogg— and if you didn’t, get in a trashcan—it’s an almost mandatory purchase.
If Nidhogg2 was to have a subtitle, it would be ‘Nidhogger’
A handful of modifiers let you change the rules.
Clouds is the prettiest stage of the lot.
You can set up local tournaments.