Release Date: January 13th 2014
Nidhogg is a frantic fencing game in which you play tug of war with your opponent, trying to be the first to go through four stages of a level to win. New opponents will continuously spawn in your way and you must successfully battle them to continue on. If you lose then your opponent will start running towards the end of their level and you must defeat them in a 1v1 battle to stop them.
That is the premise of this crazy sword toting game. Along with really awesome retro graphics and dynamic music Nidhogg is a really interesting indie game. But is there enough substance in this game to justify buying it? Or does it get old after just a few playthroughs?
Nidhogg is a constant tug of war struggle to advance through the level and win the game. Each battle comes down to minute and subtle moves that you can do to defeat your opponent. The control scheme of Nidhogg is very simplistic in nature, it is just run, jump, and stab. But with practice you can really master how to get past your enemy. You can move your sword up or down depending on where you want to attack. You can throw your sword at an opponent in your way. Or if they are running towards their goal you can throw your sword at an attempt to catch them from behind. You can jump and do aerial divekick attacks. Or you can roll in and take you opponent out down low. The combat is extremely varied, but everything that you can do on offense can be countered on defense so it is a very strategic battle each encounter.
In the single player mode, you go through 16 stages arcade style, with each stage increasing in difficulty. There are 4 maps, Castle, Wild, Clouds, and Mines. Each map has their own amazing colorful background and their own challenges. Mines has conveyor belts that you have to pay attention to or else you fall and you opponent can advance. The clouds map has colorful clouds that block your way and your visibility making it more challenging as well. And each map is repeated four times during single player mode if you are able to make it all the way to the end.
While single player is fun, it seems like it is more or less practice for local play or online multiplayer. The single player game will take you at the very most an hour to beat. Most of my playthoughs take somewhere in the 30 minute range. And if you really want to speed run through it, there are times when you can simply jump past your opponent and keep running, cutting your time down even more. I just think they could have done more with the single player aspect of the game. Maybe add some more maps, other than the 4 that you have to play over and over. Or they could have added a boss fight at the end. And I definitely think there could have been some other cool modes they could have put in for people who enjoy single player. There could have been an endless mode or a survival mode where you only get one life and you see how many opponents you can defeat. Maybe if they just added a few more aspects to single player, it would have been more than practice for other game modes.
Local Multiplayer is hands down the best mode in Nidhogg and was a real area of focus. Nidhogg seems like it was made to be played with a bunch of friends at your house. There is a tournament mode that you can do locally and when playing offline multiplayer you can have lots of different variants to each match. There is Spine Swords, Slow Mode, Trails, Boomerang Swords, Time Limit, No swords, no Throws, Throws only, Divekicks, Baby Mode, Low gravity, Sudden Death Only, Skippy Mode, and Turbo Mode. My favorite variant is definitely low gravity. It turns into a divekick match and you can pull of lots of cool aerial moves. But this can obviously be a bit of a limited game if you do not intend on playing it locally with friends. But if you do, this game becomes amazing and a real fun time.
The online multiplayer is basically the same as the single player. You go up against an opponent and you try to get past the four stages of the map to win. And your opponent is trying to do the same thing. I would have loved a variant option of online multiplayer like there is in local play. But as it is, it’s still a lot of fun.
Graphics and Sound:
The graphics and sound design of Nidhogg is a real strong point and is one of my favorite parts of the game. The graphics are a really cool pixelated throwback. You get a really neat retro vibe with this game and I couldn’t imagine it in any other style. The game would lose most of its charm if it had newer or updated graphics. One of my favorite things about the style of the game is the blood that gathers on the stage. But it is not just painted red like a Mortal Kombat game, rather it spurts out whatever color your opponent is. So the more you battle the more color is added to the map. And the music is another strength of the game as well. With music designed by electronic music creator Daedelus, the music is dynamic and different with each playthrough.
Nidhogg is a very fun and crazy, fast paced fencing game. But there is a big area of contention for me, the price. The game is listed at $14.99 on Steam. And to be honest I think this should have been on the lower end of about 5-10 dollars. While it is a lot of fun and the combat system is great, and the retro feel of the game is really cool, it is a somewhat limited game. Unless you plan on having a Nidhogg party with friends, I think you will find yourself getting somewhat bored of the game. The single player is extremely short and could use a few more challenges or game modes. And while the multiplayer is good, it is the same gameplay as the single player. I would never argue that the game is not fun because it is. The combat is perhaps one of the best I have seen in an indie game in a long time. I just wish there was as much thought and creativity put into the rest of the game as there was in the local multiplayer. With a few more modes or features it might justify the 15 dollar pricetag, but at the moment I am not sure. As it stands though the combat is a lot of fun and if you are looking for a new game to play with your friends Nidhogg might be a really great option.
Final Score: 3.5/5