Saturday, December 1

Review: Nidhogg 2 [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Within the indie space the original Nidhogg is somewhat of a legend, though I never got the chance to play it. A game laser-focused on one-on-one combat with limited but tight controls and a tendency to have a furious back and forth as each person tries to successively defeat their foe for the glory of being eaten by a giant worm monster? It may sound a bit daft but the formula works, and with its sequel on the Switch I think the added weapons and refinements that have been made make it a pretty wild title, though it’s audience appeal may be a bit on the narrow side.


As stated before your goal in Nidhogg 2 is to face off against a fellow warrior. You’ll begin in the middle of a series of connected rooms and your goal is to get all of the way to the end where you’ll have the honor of being consumed by the Nidhogg (from Norse mythology). To accomplish that goal you’ll need to make use of one of a variety of weapons you’ll be given each time you spawn. Slashing, stabbing, skewering, impaling, or plain stomping your foe’s head into a pulp repeatedly will be necessary to get to your goal, though if you’re wily you may be able to jump over them and make a run for it as well… just beware their ability to throw their weapon after you.


Since the moves used in combat are mechanically not that diverse, and the weapons have differences but only provide so much variety, what Nidhogg is really about is winning a sort of mental game of rock/paper/scissors against your foe. This is what makes the single-player arcade mode a bit of a waste, though it’s nice to have as an option I suppose. The next best way to enjoy the game is going online and hoping to match up with someone. If you’re well matched this can make for a pretty intense and sometimes prolonged battle, but it also lacks the spice of local smack talking. The best way to experience it is definitely with a friend or maybe up to 7 of them so you can get into a tournament. The ability to verbally abuse and egg on someone right next to in the hopes of getting them to flinch or make a mistake is truly where this game is the best. Whether or not it stays fresh for you and can sustain itself for more than a short time will likely vary, possibly wildly.


Nidhogg 2 is a really tricky game to score because it seems like such a hit or miss, love it or hate it, kind of experience. If you don’t have anyone to play with I’d caution you on considering the purchase as there’s really no meaningful solo play and even if you do find online matches there’s something lost in the experience even if you’re able to get into some nice and tense matches. Even if you’ve got some friends to play with I’d say the odds are equal that you could really get a kick out of the experience or have it fall flat. Credit to the developer, it’s some of the very small touches like being able to reflect shots that give what seems to be a very shallow game surprising depth, it all comes down to the experience you’re looking for though.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Simple to get rolling and have fun with but there is surprising nuance and strategy to employ as well
  • Online support could give at least some hope to people without friends to play with regularly
  • Weapon diversity will keep you on your toes as you try to engage your enemy

Cons:
  • In general this will be a love it or hate it experience for most people
  • If you’re going to generally play solo it’s probably not a great investment
  • Ultimately the game is built on its simplicity so longevity may be an issue