The original Nidhogg game from indie developer Messhof came to PS4 a few years back and offered plenty of fun for fans of local multiplayer games. However the game didn’t have a lot of depth to it and so Messhof started work on the sequel Nidhogg 2. This follow up entry adds quite a bit to the already established formula while still keeping that same great competitive spirit that the original had.
The whole premise of Nidhogg is you are facing another opponent and you each have a side of the screen you are running towards. There are several different screens you must make it through with the goal being to reach the last one in order to be eaten by the Nidhogg. In order to defeat your opponent and keep running towards your destination you must outflank them. While the original game limited you to just a sword you now have access to a bigger array of weapons such as dagger, sword and a bow for long range. With each weapon you can switch between a high, mid, and low stance to try to gain an edge over your opponent. Learning how to best switch between them is critical to gaining the advantage over your opponent but should you both be skilled then matches can really get heated. I’ve played with some players who we just kept going back and forth outmaneuvering the other which really made for some long matches.
You don’t get to choose your weapon but rather they rotate with each death you suffer. Some are better than others with the bow in particular seeming a little unfair at times do to it being long range. However you can deflect arrows back onto your attacker causing them to kill themselves (and even giving you a trophy for doing so.) With the swords or daggers you can also throw them to try to kill your opponent but at the risk of you no longer having a weapon to defend yourself should they dodge it. You can pick weapons up that are on the ground by pressing the down button though.
Now while Nidhogg 2 is still that same great local co-op experience it still doesn’t have a lot for those who don’t have friends to play with. There is still the short single player mode that tasks you with making it through so many stages but after you do it once or twice it starts to get boring. The game also has online multiplayer support letting you jump into a quick match or a ranked match. I really didn’t find a difference though as there is no kind of ranking system in place or stats to give you a reason to play ranked. As for performance I played several matches online and most of the time they ran well. Occasionally I did encounter a laggy match but it was rare. Going back to that stats screen thing I mentioned it also would have been nice to have that in any mode of the game. Many times I’d play the single player or local multiplayer and matches would go on for so long that I became curious just how many kills each of us had. Hopefully they can patch something like that into the game.
One of the other big changes for Nidhogg 2 I haven’t touched on yet is the dramatic change to its art style. No longer is this a pixelated affair like the original as it now has so much more detail both in the character models and the environments. The characters themselves look a little goofy but I really like it. You can also customize your character before a match giving them different hair, pants, and shirts. Environments in particular look fantastic and present lots of different locations for you to battle in such as on a volcano, a beautiful forest, or on a rainbow road in the clouds. And don’t worry there is just as much blood and gore here as before as characters bleed on the edge or swords or crumble into meaty pieces when struck.
Nidhogg 2 doesn’t reinvent itself but rather just adds more to an already great multiplayer formula. The new weapons help give the matches more variety in how you deal with your foe and the improved visuals help give more personality to the entire package. However the sequel doesn’t do much at all for those who are interested in a more solo experience. I myself will be keeping this in my local multiplayer rotation for a long time just like the original was as it is just too much fun not to.
*Nidhogg 2 is available on PS4 and PC. Review code provided by the publisher. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro.