Crazy tug-of-war battles are back in this sequel to one of the most interesting multiplayer combat games ever created. The question is; does Nidhogg 2 offer enough new content to warrant being a sequel?
If you're unfamiliar with Nidhogg, you and an opponent fight to the death in order to be granted the opportunity to advance closer to your goal. The combat itself is intuitive, brutal, and a heck of a lot of fun. You basically press the attack button to use your currently equipped weapon or punch, kick, and stomp if you don't happen to be armed. You'll also discover that you can jump-kick, slide, throw your weapon, and change stances which can all give you the upper-hand in battle. Disarming your opponent with a perfectly-timed kick, picking up their weapon, then stabbing them only to watch the colourful gore explode onscreen is so much fun. Once you get the green light to advance to your goal and you avoid all of your opponent's attempts at ending your life along the way then finally get eaten by the glorious Nidhogg itself, it makes all of your hard work and training pay off.
So, what's different in Nidhogg 2? Simply put, it looks and sounds completely new and there are a few additional weapons to master. Besides the standard rapier that was the only weapon in the original game, you can also hack and slash with a broadsword, stab with a dagger, and shoot arrows with a bow. Considering I played the original game a lot, I was impressed by the amount of variety that these weapons add to the gameplay. I found myself constantly thinking up new strategies on the fly depending on both my opponent's and my own current weapon. For example, if my foe had a bow and shot an arrow from far away, I would position myself to reflect it back at them. It's great stuff that makes Nidhogg 2 feel like a significant step up from the first game.
Nidhogg 2's visuals are a lot more cartoonish than the stylized minimalism of the original game. I found them to be ridiculous (in a good way) and they made the gameplay feel a lot more enjoyable. However, I understand that not everyone will find this visual style appealing, especially those who fell in love with the simplistic Atari 2600 style graphics of the first one. All of this being said, the fact that there are now ten environments to fight within is a big improvement and there's no denying just how awesome the brand new trippy soundtrack is. The music is fantastic and it blends perfectly with the off-the-wall visuals to craft a truly odd world.
Although it's a step up from the original, Nidhogg 2 unfortunately doesn't include much content. The only single player mode (arcade) has you fight a succession of opponents then your total time is posted to an online leaderboard. As of writing this, I'm #3 on there! Anyway, there are also local and online multiplayer options. Locally, you can either battle a friend or multiple friends via an elimination tournament. Online, you can either compete against strangers or friends. A nifty inclusion is that you can design your character by selecting their colour, torso, legs, hair, and an accessory but it's pretty rudimentary stuff. There are a few options that allow you to toggle the weapons, set a time limit, and choose from a variety of "cheats" that help mix up the gameplay.
However, even with these variations, the core gameplay is still very repetitive and the battles themselves can be grueling as they may last over 15 minutes if you and your opponent are evenly matched. As a result, the replay value isn't very long-lasting. Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of fun but it gets old fairly quickly so you probably won't play more than a handful of matches at a time.
Nidhogg 2 is definitely a step up from the original game but it's just not enough of one to make it feel like a sequel. Instead, it merely comes across as a reskinned game with a few extra weapons.
- + Same brutal tug-of-war combat that can be enjoyed both locally and online
- + Additional weapons add variety
- + New visuals and music are great
- - Replay value is hindered due to the repetitious and exhausting combat
- - Still limited single player content
- - Not everyone will dig the new look