This past weekend, I picked up Nidhogg in Steam’s summer sale. It had been sitting in my wishlist for quite a while, and I just couldn’t resist as soon as I saw it was on sale for $2.99. I specifically got it for the next time my brother-in-law comes to visit. We both like video games, but I currently don’t have any co-op games at my house. I figured this would be a good one. After buying it, I asked my wife if she’d like to try it out with me. She mostly just plays side scrolling platformers so I wasn’t sure how she’d like the addition of attacks in a game. Two hours later, the score was something like 8 – 1. My wife is really good at Nidhogg.
If you don’t know already, Nidhogg is a game in which two players fight each other using swords in an attempt to reach the last screen opposite of them. So, the yellow character on the left tries to make it to the finish line on the right and vice versa for the orange. The players start out in a middle area with two other areas in both directions.The catch is, only the player with the most recent kill can move to a new area. This is where the real fun of Nidhogg is.
Things can get pretty messy.
The two characters stand with one hand up and the other brandishing a sword outward. When you press the attack button, the character thrusts their sword outward. In a lot of encounters, it comes down to who presses at the right time and gets their sword past the other player’s. You do have other tricks though. Just walking into the other player’s sword will kill you, they don’t even have to attack. You can adjust your sword so that the character holds it in three positions: high, middle, or low. If a player rolls toward you while you have your sword in the low position, they’re dead; however, keeping your sword low also keeps you open to sword throws and jump attacks. Speaking of sword throws, you can hurl your sword at the other player by pushing up and attack. The only problem then is that you switch to fighting with your fists. You do have the option to pick up fallen swords off the ground. Jump attacks knock the other player out for a moment which will give you the opportunity to, rather brutally, break their neck. Crouching and performing a sweep kick will also result in the player being knocked out and open for the same finisher. A high sword position will defend against a jump attack while a low sword position will defend against the crouch attack. Needless to say, there are a lot of combinations and ways to attack or defend.
Taken all together, it might seem like Nidhogg is a slow paced game based on strategy and calculated moves. I’m sure some people play it like that, but that’s not at all how we played. It was a fast paced bloodbath. The respawns are quick and the deaths are even quicker. It’s almost like a game of tag. As soon as you get a kill, you start running like crazy towards your finish line hoping you don’t get killed along the way. There were times where we stayed on one screen killing each other over and over, before one of us would suddenly get the upper hand and finally move to the next area. These back and forth encounters really made it feel like a duel and upped the excitement when someone would finally break away. Of course, as with most co-op games, it also helps a lot to play with someone fun. My wife and I had a great time playing this. If you’ve got a friend or significant other who doesn’t play many, if any, video games, this would be a good one to introduce them to. The controls are simple and easy to pick up.
If any of this sounds like fun to you, and it should, give Nidhogg a shot. It’s currently $14.99 on steam. After playing, I would definitely pay that price for it. It’s got nearly infinite replay value, and would be a great game to play with just about anyone. So grab a friend or loved one, throw a controller in their hand, and get to stabbing each other in the face.
*Notice: The game does have other modes and a single player option, but we only played the multiplayer option.
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