I never got around to playing the first Nidhogg, mostly because it released in 2014 and I’m still catching up on all of the great games from that year that I originally missed. That’s kind of a good thing, though, because it means I get to experience the sequel as someone completely unattached to the original game, and then I can play through the first game and see how the sequel stacks up comparatively.
Also, I’m half-blind today
This isn’t related to the game, but I woke up with my left eye stinging. It took a solid 15 minutes before I could open it past a sliver, and a fun side effect has been that my vision in that eye is incredibly blurred today. Closing the other eye, I can’t even read the words that I’m writing right now until I’m about one foot away from the screen, and even that’s only barely readable. Point being, today was a wonderful day to choose to play the game where paying attention to which stance enemies are in is crucial to success. My right eye is going to have to carry me to victory.
Let’s talk about the art
The first Nidhogg had simplistic art that helped it to stand out amid the deluge of indie releases (so sayeth some users who actually played it). When the second game was teased, however, it’s safe to say that the reaction was less than stellar. I definitely didn’t care for the design of the characters in what they were showing, and yet the characters look so much better now. When you start up arcade mode (I can’t connect to online stuff, presumably because the game hasn’t released yet and no other game reviewer people are online looking for a match against someone not on their friend list), you’re given the opportunity to customize your character’s appearance, from their color to worn accessories. It’s not hugely robust or anything, but it definitely gives you the opportunity to feel like you own your character.
This is my guy:
He’s fabulous and I defy you to tell me otherwise.
Needless to say, the concerns over the art seem to have been addressed. I’m sure some people will complain anyway because that always happens whenever there’s change (see: the initial reaction to Wind Waker’s art style), but I actually like the art quite a bit. And you know what? The music is fantastic and helps the art fit in even more. The whole thing is like a drug trip gone horribly awry in the best of ways.
Arcade mode is a bunch of stages chained together, and they all go roughly the same way: you and your opponent face off halfway between both of your goals armed with a weapon (usually a sword of some kind, though one gives you a bow and another seems to give you a randomized weapon) and attack each other. The one who doesn’t die gets to run off in the direction of their goal while the other respawns occasionally to stop them. If the person on defense kills the person trying to make it to their goal, it becomes their turn to run off in their direction and undo a chunk of the other player’s progress while the first player respawns to stop them. Rinse and repeat until someone makes it all the way to their goal. Basically, it’s a mix between a foot race, tug of war, and a one-on-one fight to the death.
You can move your weapon up and down and lunge with X—I’m playing on a controller because I saw something suggesting that it was best played with one, but will make a point to try out the keyboard controls later—in addition to jumping with A. Pretty much everything is a combination of directional buttons, X, and/or A; you jump kick by jumping and then attacking with X, you can roll by holding down while running to the side, you throw your weapon by pressing up and X (and pick up a new weapon on the ground by pressing down), and you can throw punches when unarmed/smash an enemy’s head when they’re down with X. For something so contextual, though, it feels surprisingly fluid and natural. I rarely died and felt that it was unfair, though there are a few stages where the enemy typically spawns on high ground and makes it unnecessarily difficult to get past them without dying.
I did okay for my first time
After getting to the end of arcade mode, the game showed me my time:
Then it showed me how that compares to the top ranked times:
There’s obviously room to improve, though in my defense, I didn’t know I was being timed. Before trying to make it onto that list, though, I’m going to go back and play the first game to have that bit of added context (and skill, hopefully).