Indie Review: Nidhogg Is A Stab Happy Good Time
- Worth The Time?Yes, but it's preferred that you have friends
- Things LovedThe smooth animation, the hecticness of the battles, good controls, music is great, levels look nice, very interesting mechanics, a nice little timewaster, excellent when played with friends, good fun.
- Things HatedNot a lot of variation, will only really appeal to social gamers, way too expensive for what is being offered, only 4 levels available.
- RecommendationIf you want to play something fun with a bunch of friends then you can't go wrong with this one, but don't expect a lot of value if you're playing alone
- Name: Nidhogg
- Genre: Fencing Simulator
- Players: 1-2
- Multiplayer: Yes
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Messhof
- Publisher: Messhof
- Price: $15
- Reviewed On: PC
Nidhogg is a game that has been floating around in gaming limbo for quite some time. You would often hear about it from tradeshows and the like where it amassed a huge crowd because of its excellent one-on-one fighting mechanics. But for some reason it was heavily delayed until it finally released on Steam recently. Was it worth the wait? Read on and find out.
Nidhogg really doesn’t screw around when it comes to throwing you right into the action. The tutorial takes about a minute to complete and for good reason because its controls are so easy to learn. You have your basic movement keys, your jump key and your attack key. Added to those is the ability to move your sword up and down for strategic purposes. It teaches you how to do a dive kick, a roll, throw your sword, do a wall-run and parry your opponent’s attacks. That’s it. That’s the extent of the game’s mechanics. You won’t have to learn anything else for the entirety of the game.
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The visual style is reminiscent of early Atari games with pixel art and simple backgrounds. Unlike old Atari games, however, the animations are extremely smooth and just a joy to behold. Characters come in multiple colours ranging from simple basic colours to epilepsy inducing flashing colours. When a character gets stabbed, their blood is splattered all over the place in their respective colour. It’s very visceral for a 2D fighting game and is oddly satisfying.
The music is fantastic with pulsing 8-bit style music playing throughout the battles. It does a good job at providing a great backdrop to the intense action that’s happening on the screen. The composers did a really good job at capturing the classic retro sound to compliment the retro visuals of the game.
After the initial tutorial, most people will play the singleplayer to get a hang of the fighting mechanics. This is where the game squares you off against ten opponents of incremental difficulty across the four available maps. Then you fight. The way Nidhogg’s combat works is that you have to kill your opponent and then run to a side, dependent on where you started from. If your opponent kills you on the way, then they can run to their side. You win by reaching the end and getting eaten by a giant worm.
The game is simple, barebones even. It does one thing, but it does that one thing well and that’s the smooth and responsive sword fighting. It’s one of those “simple to learn, hard to master” games where basically anyone can pick it up and play it, but you need some practice to become really good at it. You will need some skills and reflexes to become good and it really is satisfying when you pull off a perfect fight where your opponent didn’t even touch you. My first singleplayer playthrough was rather easy where I didn’t lose once, but there were some matches that were extremely difficult and some that were a breeze. One opponent took me over fifteen minutes and another took me about thirty seconds. It all depends on how well you’re doing and if you managed to trick your opponent. Often you can simply run past your opponent to your side of the screen, but that also requires some degree of skill.
The game has no story mode. It’s just plain fighting through and through. Once you defeat the last enemy in the singleplayer, it just throws you back to the main menu where you can either do it again, or jump online to fight human players. This is where Nidhogg shines the most. AI players are all fine and good, but playing against a human is a different ballgame altogether. They can trick you or be miles better than you are, which adds an entirely different element to the gameplay.
This game was made for parties. A whole group of people bundled together at a screen watching two people going at it with “ohhh”s and “damn!”s filling the room around them. Then when someone emerges victorious, they get challenged by someone else. The game recognizes this completely and even includes a local tournament mode exactly for this scenario. If you’re a social gamer or you have a lot of friends over on occasion then this game might just be a very worthwhile investment for you. If you’re a gamer that primarily plays alone then I don’t really see this having a lot of value for money. There is still the online mode, but I don’t think it will have a very lasting impact due to its simple mechanics.
Like I said earlier, the game has four maps available for you to fight on. I felt like there should have been a lot more just to add some more variation into the mix. The maps that are available do have their own unique assets. In one map there’s a lot of elevated terrain and escalators and the other map is in the clouds where the floor beneath you sometimes collapses. These can all be strategically used against you opponent which is excellent for gameplay. But like I said, they could have added more maps to keep things from becoming too stale. Perhaps the developers will release additional maps in the future.
The game’s biggest downfall is its price. At $15, there should have been a lot more content on offer than what is currently available. While it’s a very enjoyable fighting game, it won’t last for very long except for maybe social gatherings and such. If the price was lower I would have definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to have a fun game they can play with friends. It’s perhaps best to wait for a Steam Sale where its asking price is much more fair.
Nidhogg is a fun little game you can play when you have a few minutes to kill or be an integral part of a drunken night with friends. Its mechanics work well and the combat is very fun, but like I said, maybe wait for the price to go down a bit.