I challenge you to an acid infused duel, En garde! Let me preface this review by saying this is probably the most intriguing, bonkers and mind-boggling title I have ever played. Where to even start?
Reviewed on: PC (Windows)
Also Available On: N/A
Release Date:Out Now
Nidhogg is an 8-bit fencing game which challenges you to engage in a tug of war format where you face enemies on the way to your side of the level. Each level (or stage) consists of two sides, which are identical to each other. You have to fight your way across to the edge of the right hand side, whereas the enemy has to go left. Passage from stage to stage is dependent on who has right of way (weird statement I know). Once you kill an enemy, an arrow pops up in the top right corner pointing in the direction you need to go. This means if you hit the edge of the stage, you pass through to the next one. If you don’t have this “clearance” per say, you cannot pass to the next stage.
Level design in Nidhogg is fascinating, with a weird mix of abrasive, acid-infused euphoria to a level resembling the final fight scene between Anakin and Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith (Oh look a Star Wars reference). There are four different stages you can tug of war on, Clouds, Wilds, Castle and Mines. These levels are often filled with interesting terrain ideas and rather distracting set pieces. Within the cloud stage the opening level is an attack on the senses, sound is frustrating and the colours are a miss-match and blend far too much with the characters on screen. It’s not a fun experience, moving onto the next stage negates these issues, but it’s still slightly frustrating to have to deal with it. Despite the horrible colour and background issues, the Cloud stage presents some good ideas. The terrain sometimes changes based on the cloud movement, the opening ledge you start on can sometimes have blocks disappear. This usually results in a dangerous dance of jumping and running to avoid the changing terrain, and the other fencer.
Nidhogg manages to add some sort of human AI into the mix. Although that is perhaps a hyperbole statement, it seems like enemies are coded to have humanistic tendencies. If they have the opportunity to advance to the next stage, they will happily (and quickly) take the shortcut and run for their lives, rather than facing you in a duel. Despite this being highly annoying when I was desperately wanting to chase them to no avail, I respected it because I did it far too often myself. Sometimes AI will make simple mistakes, like being dragged off the edge of the map due to a treadmill movement, because of this, your defence is lowered. You end up taking things for granted and then you get slain by an onslaught of attacks and swipes.
Although the core idea of combat is relatively simple, the execution is somewhat not. Combat can be fast and fluid, or rather patient and tense and these are all interchangeable emotions which change at the drop of a hat. This all depends however on the situation or play-style. So whether you are trying to defend yourself or going on the offensive, there are a few moves you can do. Your sword can be in one of three positions, changeable up and down, planning the positioning and swiping up and down can disarm your opponent, at the risk of leaving yourself open. You can also jump and duck, and throw your sword towards the enemy. Throwing takes a little getting used to, and can be blocked with ease, so is a risky manoeuvre. It’s safe to say the wide breadth of combat options (although on the surface they appear lacklustre), make for a wild, yet tense time. The speed in which combat changes is crazy, you have to be constantly moving and thinking, and it’s fantastic that it exists this way.
The sound design within this game is done really well, the cling-clanging of swords pings through the speakers while the backdrops provide ambient noise over the music, which disappoints somewhat. The music doesn’t seem to match the tone or feel of the title, but in a way, nothing really would. The music is sub-par, but the excellent sound effects more than make up for it. The water crashing onto rocks, lava flying around or the deep depths of the mines all make for an enjoyable and ambient experience.[tabgroup][tab title=”The Good“]Outrageously Fun
Great Multi-player Action
Fantastic Sound Design
[/tab][tab title=”The Bad“]Some annoying stages
Devoid of Purpose, Meaning or Story