Nidhogg 2’s intense, sword-fueled bouts of pushing and shoving have found a loving home Switch. A local multiplayer title suited for “quick” matches, Nidhogg 2 is a unique and memorable game. Its got its own set of drawbacks, though. There is almost no singleplayer gameplay, the online is a lagfest, and the art style is weak. As a local multiplayer title, however, Nidhogg 2 excels.
The local multiplayer is a riot–the good kind. Matches begin with two players, each wielding one of four weapons, facing each other in the middle of a seven-room arena. With a move-set of blocks, different melee attacks, varying strategies for each weapon, and item throws, players meet in the middle and duel. Gameplay is, at its core, some very simple combat with a few different weapons. You can use a rapier, a broadsword, a knife, or a bow and arrow.
Each weapon has slight advantages or disadvantages over the others, making for a sort of rock-paper-scissors situation. You need a selection of combos in mind based on what you and your opponent are wielding. If you spawn with a bow and arrow, you can obviously force your opponent into jumping or ducking a barrage of arrows, but if they have a rapier, be careful–they can use that to send your arrows flying right back at you. A good move to counter that is a jump-kick to knock them down, since the rapier doesn’t have much in the way of overhead attacks. Once they’re knocked down, send out an arrow and it will usually hit them point blank. The initial duel will end in just one hit, but at this point, the real battle is only just beginning.
Nidhogg 2 is like a tug of war, but with pushing instead of pulling. To win, you have to run all the way to one end of the level while your opponent guns for the other side. That said, when you successfully slice down your enemy, your next objective is to run towards your goal at a break-neck speed. Cover as much ground as possible, and once they respawn, fight once again. As matches go on and on, it becomes more and more important to keep your opponent guessing by using the available mix of weapon throws, blocks, and crafty dodging. To win, you’ll need to string a run of kills together–enough that you can push all the way to the final screen. Every time you fall, meanwhile, you’ll relinquish a bit of that hard-earned territory. Rinse and repeat until one of you finally reaches your goal screen. If two skilled players are facing off, then a match can go back and forth for upwards of twenty incredibly intense minutes. This makes up the core gameplay loop of Nidhogg 2, and boy is it a wild ride.
Unfortunately, Nidhogg 2 lacks any substantial single player, and the online play is a disappointment. The only solo mode involves running through a few easy AI opponents. It lasts under an hour. Online play, meanwhile, suffers from severe input lag. Nidhogg 2 is a fast-based game–skirmishes are often decided by milliseconds. Lag hurts the game greatly.
Aesthetically, Nidhogg 2’s wacky, bug-eyed character designs and messy environments are a major departure from its predecessor’s simplistic pixel style. It is definitely a step backward, with weird characters, cluttered environments, and a somewhat blurry overall package. The result is a muddy mess, kind of like when you would mix too many kinds of Play-Do together as a kid.
Nidhogg 2‘s setbacks make it an inadvisable purchase for anything but local multiplayer. The local multiplayer is fantastic enough to carry this game. Nidhogg 2 succeeds in making a few very simple concepts wonderfully captivating. By combining intuitive controls with a healthy range of tricks and strategies, Nidhogg 2 is the very definition of “Easy to learn, hard to master.” It is a worthy investment for you and your friends, provided they’re close by.