Nidhogg II Is an outlandish, side scrolling action game designed by Mark Essen (Messhof). This game packs beautiful art, captivating gameplay, and the deku tree’s creepy cousin all into one package. Confused? Good, now prepare to stab enemies in the knee and jump in a giant worm’s mouth in my review of Nidhogg II (for PS4 in my case).
I wanted to start with the art because it is the first thing the player sees, and boy is it an experience. The look of this game, while not directly similar to, reminds me of the experience I had when playing Donkey Kong Country for the first time. While it has a different art style, Nidhogg II is so consistent that it makes all of the weird environments feel completely normal. The only complaints I have with the aesthetic is the occasional glitching or tearing in the menu. The tearing is not dramatic nor is it associated with frame drops, but it definitely hurts the experience. Another complaint I have seen has to do with the slightly ugly, super bright character designs. I feel that Nidhogg II purposefully embraced the ugly in this game to make it stand out from the crowd and I approve. With that said, there is also some mild character customization which adds to the crazy fun.
I will keep this short and sweet, Nidhogg’s music is a beautiful fit for the style of gameplay. Most songs fit well with areas in the game, and the drum patterns blow me away in most songs. They chose to use interesting rhythms and sounds to keep it fresh and I appreciate that. The music in Nidhogg II really does improve the overall experience and feel of the game.
I know I spoke highly of the art and music in Nidhogg II, but hang in there because it gets better. The main goal in a match is to get to the enemy’s side of the map and on top of that there is a tug of war mechanic rather than a point or percentage based score. As you push to get the enemies side, he/she pushes to get to your side. You can use various weapons that change as you push, or get pushed, through a level. Your “choice” of weapons are: Bare hands (disarming/throws), Rapier (range), Broadsword (disarming/arc shaped attack), Bow and Arrow (Range), and Daggers (attack speed). Given that you don’t actually choose the weapons you have to do a bit of experimentation (or googling) to find their flaws and uses. You can throw all weapons which add to the silliness of the combat.
Multi-Player (Online & Co-op)
Speaking of silliness, I want to of course mention this game’s most valuable asset, multiplayer. Nidhogg II does have (good) online multiplayer in my experience. I did not see any stuttering or lag throughout my matches. Having said that, I have heard from others that the online multiplayer gave them issues. What really makes Nidhogg II worth it is all the fun you can have playing this game couch co-op. The silliness, variety, and tight gameplay all put Nidhogg right up there with Mario Kart and many of my other favorite couch co-op games.
I feel that Nidhogg II puts down an awesome value proposition at around $15. Where it lacks lore, it packs a massive left hook of style and fun. If you want a game that you don’t feel obligated to play for 150 hours or just a game to boot up at a party, it should be up at the top of that list. Nidhogg II is a solid experience with beautiful art, and insanely fun gameplay at an impressive price.