The RPS Verdict: Nidhogg

By RPS on February 4th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Do you Nidhogg? For years, only a few people could answer yes, but now the one-on-one swordfighting game has found its way into public hands. Adam and Graham have been waving their swords at one another, fighting for the right to be eaten alive by the pink worm of success.

Adam: We have gathered here to speak of Nidhogg, a game that has been in development since men drew swordfighters on the walls of their caves and admired the illusion of animation caused by the flickering of the world’s first flame.

Graham: How many Nids have you Hogged thus far?

Adam: I have Hogged most of the Nids. Mostly huddled around a keyboard rather than playing online.

I have three main points of discussion that I’d like to raise. Can we work through those first? With deviations permitted, of course.

Graham: That sounds very structured, but YES. Point one?

Adam: GRAPHICS.

I’ve seen lots of complaints about the style and apparent execution, most of which I assume comes from people who haven’t played the game. It’s mostly a very CLEAN look, which communicates events exactly as it should, I find.

Apart from the sky level, with the clouds, which hurts my eyes.

Graham: Have you played messhof’s other games? Nidhogg is tame, as far as his normal warping, wibbling, psychadelic fever dreams go. I remember Randy Balma Municipal Abortionist (an actual game) being particularly difficult to parse.

Adam: You’ve made that up, surely.

Graham: Nope.

Adam: Wow – Google’s second result for the phrase ‘Randy Balma Municipal Abortionist’ is a write-up by none other than Alec Meer Municipal Games Journalist, back in 2008.

I wish it was called ‘Randy Balma Municipal Abortionist (an actual game)’

Graham: Messhof has been quiet for a long time, until this proper release, but there was a while when he was turning out great, inventive stuff on a seemingly weekly basis. Punishment 2: The Punishing is a superb platformer, for example.

I love the way Nidhogg looks. Not just the colour scheme and backgrounds, but little details in the animation: the way your swords flex and bend as you change stances; the cute, Wildebeest crouchwalk; the spraying blood and melting of corpses; the way you can stick a guy with your sword, and keep moving the sword up and down ad infinitum.

In fact, I’ve fallen for every single animation: divekicks! Cartwheels! Swipe kicks! It all looks so fluid and, as you say, CLEAN. For all its flat-colour and oozing texture, there’s still something of the rotoscoped-style of Prince of Persia to it.

Adam: Do you think the trippiness, for lack of a better word, adds anything? I agree that there are lovely details, in the backgrounds as well with the chomping worms and droplets of water, but it’s such a precisely controlled game that any distraction could be deemed unnecessary.

Is the feverish appearance part of the swordfighting and tension, or is it a charm separate from them? Does that make sense?

Graham: I do. Nidhogg pushes players to a point of near hysteria. You die so quickly, so often, that you snap into this rhythm of constantly rushing, trying to make progress and maintain momentum. Your deaths become very funny, very frantic. Falling into the void through your own mistake, or killing your opponent at the same time they kill you.

There’s a kind of madness to it, in the speed and frequency and desperate rush. I think that’s supported by the dripping, chomping, sacrificial theme and art, and the excellent, hypnotic electronic music.

Adam: Although the internet has attempted to diminish the act of physically laughing out loud by turning it into punctuation, I must say that Nidhogg genuinely does make me chortle like a buffoon.

Graham: I used to play the earlier builds in an office. Our yelps, guffaws and screams would draw crowds, and the people who’d come see what we were doing would start laughing along with it. There aren’t many competitive games like this which are so inclusive or social. It’s a great party game.

Adam: The aesthetic is part of that. It has a slapstick quality, particularly in the crouch-walk and the divekick, that convey proper human motion without having obvious verisimilitude. The avatars, like that early Prince of Persia, are very human indeed.

I always feel a bit sad when people reject a game because of its appearance when, in fact, the aesthetic works hand-in-hand with the rest of the design. It is a very hard game to screenshot satisfactorily though.

Before I played it, I wasn’t sure if it was messy, in a Valley Without Wind sort of way, or too abstract to maintain the tightness of control it needed to grab me.

Graham: It does seem to put people off, although yeah, often only until they see it in motion. I think the style is deliberately there to assimilate you into its fevered mindset, but even if you don’t buy that, it’s never obscuring of what’s happening.

It’s never scratchy in the way VWW felt either, because it’s all moving, shimmering, blowing, reacting. Like the way the crop fields ruffle as you run through them.

Adam: That’s my favourite bit of scenery. I love a good crop field. Left 4 Dead was the last game to do the dread of a corn-sea quite this well.

Now that we’ve confirmed our fever-punk art appreciation credentials, shall we move on to the next point?

Graham: I am skewered. You have the initiative to progress, fighter.

Adam: SCENE: As we travel to the left, onto the second screen, ADAM lifts his sword to parry GRAHAM’S lunge. Both swords slip from hands and come to rest some distance away. The two combatants roll in the dust, punching and kicking, until a loud SNAP as ADAM’S neck is broken.

BUT THERE WAS LAG.

Confusion reigns. The scene didn’t quite gel as it travelled across the tubes of the internet. The second point is netcode, which I’ve found a bit dodgy.

It’s a game that needs to run as smooth as butter but sometimes it’s a bit like trying to spread butter that has just come out of the fridge, and you end up hacking at it with an axe and then just sort of piling it up in shards in the middle of the toast and hoping it’ll melt.

Graham: Yeah but then it does melt, and it’s delicious because the shards have smeared more butter across the toast than you’d ever dared apply otherwise?

Adam: So good.

Graham: I haven’t had personal experience with the lag, although it’s a common enough complaint that it’s clearly an issue. What I had was the near impossibility of connecting to friends in the first place, after it first launched. A couple of updates have improved this, but it’s still a tad fiddly in its multiplayer menus and a tad unreliable at that initial connection for me.

Also, when we played, you beat me a lot. Were you lagging at the same time? Am I that bad? Say it ain’t so.

Adam: I’ve found it impossible to play at times because there’s a delay, probably less than a second, but sometimes it’s absolutely fine. as I said earlier, I mostly play with people locally, so it’s not too much of an issue but there are definite issues.

It was fine for me during those bouts – it often is. I haven’t been able to pinpoint why exactly the lag occurs because sometimes it’s just too much to take and other times it doesn’t happen at all.

Graham: When it does work, do you find playing online as fun as playing locally? Or is there some intrinsic part of its enjoyment that relies on sitting next to your opponent?

Adam: I’ve never played without an audience – even if I’m playing online, I’ll have people around me and we’ll pass the keyboard around from game to game.

But I don’t know if I need the opponent right there. I don’t think so. Anyone is good. I’m capable of cackling like a maniac watching a colourful nightmare while I’m all alone, but it wouldn’t look good in my psych file.

It’s fascinating how a slight delay can change the entire experience though. The speed and precision of the game, with even the slightest of input or timing flaws, means that it ceases to be hilarious and immediately becomes frustrating. Which, in a way, demonstrates just how perfectly machined it is.

Graham: It’s obviously much simpler than a Street Fighter-style fighting game, but for sure it’s no less dependent on timing. There seems to be only a few pixels of difference between a disarming divekick and meeting a pointy, instant end.

Adam: Yeah. There’s a tendency to describe any multiplayer game that has a comedic, slapstick element as chaotic, and that can imply a lack of precision. Nidhogg is as sharply honed as a good foil though. Same’s true of Wizard Wars, my other multiplayer obsession of the moment. Packed with madness and seemingly chaotic outcomes, but all dependent on very deliberate inputs and timing.

Graham: Similarly tight one-on-one fighter Samurai Gunn is the same. The feeling in these games of being out of control comes from the pace. It pushes you to the edge of what you’re capable of reacting to, so you’re always off-balance. But your actions are precise and deliberate.

Graham: I say, saying the same things you said.

Adam: We need to violently disagree about something. Perhaps point number three?

Graham: FINAL SCREEN.

Adam: A simple question comes into play on the final screen – is Nidhogg a game of skill or a game of mad circumstance? We’ve touched on it in that previous conversation but, in more detail, do you believe that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Nidhogg players? Does experience improve the skillset? How complex is the possible curve of learning and adaptation?

IS IT POSSIBLE TO DIVEKICK ALL THE WAY TO THE MAW OF THE BEAST

Graham: I believe there are definitely good and bad players. If timing matters, it’s possible to master that timing. To be more precise. More than that, it’s possible to make better decisions. It’s the question of: when should you throw your sword, and when should you draw your opponent closer? When should you divekick and when should you keep your feet planted? High, middle or low? This only comes through experience.

Graham: We’ve described it as a multiplayer game again and again, but I’ve been playing a lot of the singleplayer. The challenge here is: how fast can you reach the end of a series of fights against different types of AI opponents?

There are leaderboards. I’m terrible. But I’m getting better, too.

Adam: Ah. I’ve only played singleplayer briefly because I have many friends. It is good fun though – one of the few games in which I find the computer more unpredictable than a human opponent, and that’s quite entertaining.

One of the lovely things about playing with an actual person is that they will occasionally throw a sword because IT IS FUNNY TO THROW A SWORD. They don’t need to do it, it doesn’t help them, but there is something inherently comical about lobbing your weapon across a room and then crawling around on the floor, bouncing occasionally.

That’s what games are all about really.

Graham: I don’t think enough good things have been said about the AI. I can’t tell how much is programmed and how much is projection, but it seems to have real personality and character. Occasionally you’ll meet an opponent who loves throwing their sword, or likes to crouch and then hop after killing you, seemingly gloating.

In the singleplayer, the opponents are different colours. I’m not certain, but I think those colours have fixed strategies that are the same every time you meet them. So the red guy has a greater chance to like divekicks, or whatever.

Adam: The computer opponents seem a bit bonkers. Sometimes they destroy me completely and other times they are quite passive. I didn’t think about the timed element because I’m very silly.

There is no AI. Messhof imprisoned seventy two people in a large underground chamber and whenever you choose to play singleplayer, you are randomly connected to one of them.

Graham: This would also make sense. The crouch-jumping guy must really enjoy his imprisonment.
4:30 PM

Adam: I’m an extremely cautious swordsman. I inch forward and jab a lot, defense up. Like a cowardly boxer.

But if I kill someone, you better believe I’m going to crouch-jump ALL OVER the room.

AND IN THE GAME

Graham: I grow impatient and sprint in wildly, thrusting and swiping and leaping into the air. My favourite move is to try to slide-roll under a person’s waiting sword, after they’ve expected me to stay and fight fair. It only ever works once or twice, but boy it feels nice.

Adam: That is the most satisfying thing ever. Better than a headshot in the sort of game that bellows HEADSHOT

Graham: We haven’t reached the pointy end of your question, yet. Do YOU think there are good and bad Nidhogg players?

Adam: No. I believe that all is in flux and that everyone will eventually be devoured by Nidhogg, whether they have been good or bad. I believe that the only way to improve is to play but to play is also a sure way to atrophy, caught in the endlessly burning colours of the landscapes and lunges. I believe that to question the possibility of skill in a game that is defined by a sense of glee entirely separate from notions of victory or defeat is abhorrent.

And I believe that we have come to an impasse. EN GARDE.

Graham: Hey. HEY. Wait. I should stress that while I think that Nidhogg is the kind of game you can get better at, slowly mastering its madness, I also agree that skill is not the point. It’s a game that’s possible to master. It’s not a game /about/ mastery. Playing against someone who has never played before can be as fun for both parties as playing someone who is of equal experience.

You may improve, get better, win more in the long run, but I’m not sure it’s possible to never die, to never lose. Death and laughter are wonderful equalisers.

I may hold contradictory beliefs.

Adam: Nggh. (you can’t say Nighodd without ‘nghh’) I actually agree entirely. I just wanted to have a pretend fight, for thematic reasons. Maybe we can have a pillow fight.

Winning doesn’t matter but pulling off a neat move is incredibly satisfying. But I’d rather perform one really good kill and lose the entire round than win without doing anything particularly superlative/silly.

Graham: It is kind of a game about showing off, and inevitably failing at trying to show off. The only sensible way to ever play must surely be to go mid, jab, recoil, and wait for your opponent to make a mistake. But on any given day, I’d rather throw my sword in the first second, go for a divekick and try to crouchjump my way to the next screen.

Adam: Is there anything more beautiful than two swords simultaneously thrown? The ‘ting’ as they collide in mid-air? The mad scramble to retrieve one?

Graham: Nothing. And I think the game knows it, since dying leaves your sword behind. If two players get stuck in the same room for a while, they end up with a dozen swords littering the ground. So everyone starts throwing, immediately picking another up another sword from the bloodpainted floor.

Adam: before we wrap up like a couple of mummies, I want to return to something you mentioned about the lack of complexity in comparison to a more conventional one-on-one beat ‘em up, like Street Fighter, the number one franchise about punching tarmac.

Graham: And cars. Sometimes in Street Fighter you beat up a car.

Adam: One of the things I love about Nidhogg is that anyone can play and compete straight away. There’s no memorisation required, no need to study movelists and characters. That’s a legitimate form of complexity, of course, but I much prefer a game that rewards use of a few functions than knowledge of an enormous amount.

And, yes, I am saying that Nidhogg is better than Street Fighter. All of the Street Fighters. COME AT ME, INTERNET

Graham: I don’t know that it’s better, but I think Nidhogg can certainly sit comfortably alongside Street Fighter or anything like it. I think the fighting game community maybe feels the same way, too. Nidhogg appeared at the EVO Championship Series recently, and there are other, similarly simple fighting games that have been born from that community itself, like the aptly titled Divekick.

Personally, Nidhogg is far more my style too.

Adam: It’s certainly better for me but that is partly because I can only remember two moves. Trying to learn fatalaties in Mortal Kombat was harder than finishing my dissertation. I am extremely rubbish at beat ‘em ups.

Graham: I enjoy watching and reading about them more than playing them. I don’t like learning by rote, although I appreciate the enormous skill required and satisfaction in choosing the right move at the right moment, and executing it flawlessly.

Adam: Aye. I’m an observer rather than an actor as far as fighting games go.

Adam: Three topics raised – many words flung across the internet. Have we verdicted Nidhogg?

Graham: Is Nidhogg a champion, destined to be eaten by a Nordic dragon in glory? Or is it me, destined to attempt to throw its sword in a corridor with too low a ceiling, only for the sword to fall limply to the ground, before hurling itself into a swirling abyss?

Adam: To an extent, it all depends on lag.

Graham: I am slain.

Nidhogg is available from Steam for £12/$15. Read Graham’s Wot I Think here.

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50 Comments »

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  1. The Dark One says:

    The use of Vines in the game’s official site is pretty smart. Motion makes it looks a gajillion times cooler.

  2. derbefrier says:

    I want to try this but waiting for a sale. 15 bucks seems a little steep for the amount of content compared to similar priced titles. I really wish there was a DRM free version somewhere. This being constantly labeled a party\social game needs the ability to carry around on a thumb drive damnit!

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      Bugamn says:

      If you want to try, try the free parody, Eggnogg. Hatonastick has linked the site, check it.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    Just to put the pricing issue in context … for the same price as Nidhogg, you can get Monaco. I’m not saying one is more fun than the other, but a simple game like Nidhogg doesn’t seem like it’s worth the same amount of money as Monaco.

    • mechabuddha says:

      Also, Monaco recently came out with an update that rebalances all of their levels and tweaks some of the class abilities. And they kept the old version in the game, too!

  4. Randomer says:

    I bought Nidhogg a few days ago and really want to give it a try, but it won’t recognize my Saitek p990 gamepad. It seems like it only works with 360 controllers. Has anyone been able to make an older gamepad work? I tried using x360ce for xinput emulation, but I’ve had no luck there.

    Any gamepad gurus in the crowd?

    Edit: Weird – the Steam page for it claims to support DirectInput gamepads. Am I being stupid? Do you just have to do extra configuring for the 2nd player controller?

  5. Geebs says:

    It seems the internet is responding with stony silence to that “better than street fighter” thing :-p

    • Adam Smith says:

      Jeromykhart’s buddy’s step-aunt is fuming about it.

      • Geebs says:

        Given how old everybody who was into SF2 is nowadays, I imagine your comeuppance will come in terms of a worldwide sharp intake of breath and some rather strongly worded letters to the Times.

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          Gap Gen says:

          Yeah, but $13k a month. Not bad, aye? Although she was fired for dissing Nidhogg.

  6. Wulfram says:

    Sorry, but no matter how good the art is, I can’t get myself to like pixels.

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      Gap Gen says:

      Depends, if they’re only green, yellow and red, they’re rasters.

    • meepmeep says:

      I tried reading a book the other day, but it was all in the latin alphabet. Eugh.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      I, too, will only play video games that are acted out live before me.

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      phuzz says:

      So you must have been pretty disappointed by gaming since they stopped making the original vector Asteroids machine then eh?

      (Had a go on an original machine a few years ago, and the way the CRT slowly fades to black makes everything look really cool. There was no bullet trails, just the slow fade on the phosphor making it look like a trail.)

  7. Machinations says:

    ” Nidhogg is better than Street Fighter”

    Really? No. No, it is not. Please. Stop. Hurting. Gaming.

    It sounds familiar…oh right

    Shadowrun Returns is AMAZING!!!1!!!

    No, no it is not. Please. Stop.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Gaming must be a terribly fragile thing in your mind, if opinions can harm it so.

    • Phendron says:

      The FGC is a cult. A friendly cult, but a cult nonetheless.

  8. Focksbot says:

    I really think Samurai Gunn is much better. It’s far cleaner – I’ve been playing it with friends and on my own for hours and you can rarely fault the mechanics behind a kill. You can shout, “Oh, come on!” but in your heart of hearts, you know you jammed your thumb down just a fraction of a second too late.

    SG also has more levels with more possibilities for tricks – you can try hiding behind your own corpse (from a previous life) and waiting to spring up unexpectedly, but only if you’re confident your opponents are too distracted to see you doing it. You can switch your sword stance to subtly affect the angles you can strike at. And since the screen loops, you can turn a jumping retreat into a plunging kill in a fraction of a second, as you fall off the bottom of the screen and straight down onto your opponent’s neck from the top. Being able to select from a range of subtly varied (aesthetically) characters is also a neat touch.

    In comparison, I find Nidhogg infuriatingly obtuse at times – like how it decides who gets to knock whose sword out of whose hand when you’re both waggling them up and down, or whether you’re allowed to break your opponent’s neck when they’ve been knocked down (the timing on this seems wildly erratic).

    It’s also not really true that anyone can pick up and play it – there are plenty of weird little unintuitive rules that you have to familiarise yourself with, like how you can never attack someone higher up than you or your character goes into some kind of weird convulsion. I’ve had the same issues with controller support as people above, and the cloud level is an abominable eye-strain (in other respects, I do *get* the art style – I really do).

    It’s been said before, but in some ways even Eggnogg – the spoof game based on Nidhogg – is better than Nidhogg. Thrown swords actually follow arcs instead of spinning indefinitely across the screen until they hit something, for a start.

    Come on, guys – some objective distance, please.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      They can’t be objective about it because they got to be in the In-crowd that had the game when others didn’t. A clever move by the developer, to turn the games media with a bit of the old psychological manipulation.

      • Adam Smith says:

        Not sure how serious this comment was but I hadn’t touched Nidhogg before release, wasn’t familiar with the dev’s other games and only tend to be at the kind of places that it showed up for work purposes. If anything, I was sick of other games folk banging on about it all the time and had to put up with that loads because I work with the blighters!

        I think there’s some merit to the suggestion that creating an ‘inside buzz’ has a positive critical effect among the group that feel they’ve been part of an exclusive process. A lot of music journalism thrives on that principle.

        Graham and I love the game though, and have entirely different experiences with it before and after public release.

        Oh, and I haven’t played Samurai Gunn but now I REALLY want to!

        • BooleanBob says:

          I think this is a legit problem too, at least potentially, and it’s to your credit that you didn’t dismiss the possibility outright, even if it didn’t apply in this case. Did you happen to hear Matt Everitt talking on Radio 4’s PM last night, by any chance? He was one of a handful of (doubtless painstakingly selected) musos invited to be at a gig Prince flew into the UK to perform… in someone’s house.

          I’m not trying to claim analogy between that situation and Nidhogg, they’re clearly not the exact same thing, but Everitt at one point somehow allowed himself to say that Prince’s ‘sound check gig was better than most musicians achieve in their entire careers’. It might genuinely have been, I suppose, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the exclusivity and the breathlessness of the praise had anything to do with one another.

      • Graham Smith says:

        I had played a lot before its public release. Being able to play it with friends, and laugh as hard as it made us laugh, made me like it. I’m not influenced by anything else.

        If anything, its exclusivity – limited to conferences, exhibitions and so on – was a source of frustration. I don’t like when games have a limited release, for the implied suggestion by those developers that exclusivity is in some way interesting in itself. I don’t like it because it stops me fulfilling my role as a writer-about-games: sharing things that people might enjoy with the people who might enjoy them.

        I am much cooler than Adam though.

        • Adam Smith says:

          Graham is right. Except in that last sentence, at which point he goes off the rails like a Thuggee in a minecart

      • Shooop says:

        I’m pretty sure it’s more of a hipster group-think on than developer bribes.

        GameTrailers.com even starts off their review of this game demeaning anyone who doesn’t like the “art”. I could picture their neckbeards growing thicker by the second.

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      wengart says:

      Samurai Gunn is cleaner and probably a better fighter for two skilled opponents, but Nidhogg is silly enough that I can invite anyone over and they’ll enjoy a round or two.

      Although at this point I practically only buy local co-op games and $15 isn’t much money at all. So I’m not unhappy with either purchase.

      • Focksbot says:

        You have problems getting friends to play Samurai Gunn? I point out to them that (a) we could all team up against the computer if you’re worried I’ve had too much practice, or (b) if there’s two of you, we can play two on one, and (c) you can play this rhino-type chap! Or a dog spirit! And on a level with a floor that slowly gets pulled out from under you!

        I agree Nidhogg has a frantic, silly energy, but the tug of war concept also makes matches go on far too long.

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    Stellar Duck says:

    I’m just not feeling anything about this game that makes me want to play it.

    My general take on it since details were out has been “Is that it? Is that what “in” people have been crooning about for years while being a bit smarmy that they were in on it?”.

    I guess I’d need to play it to find out, but frankly, my resentment for the game will likely prevent that.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I don’t feel resentful, and while I have the notion that the gameplay is probably pretty good it still seems a bit.. limited. That’s fine, of course. Doing one thing and doing it well and all, but I can imagine variants. Not being eaten at the end of a bout (something about that makes me feel sick) for instance.

  10. aperson4321 says:

    Don’t be so OLD people! I am 23 but this comment field smell old people honestly!

    I am a not too bad hobby artist (http://aperson4321.deviantart.com/) and I must say that if you will not play this game because of its art style I really must say you smell old.

    Judging this game from still images or even video is like judging a entire movie from one image. YOU need to play this game in local coop with a xbox 360 controller or better against a person of somewhat your own skill level then you will know the glory of thy nidhogg.

    If you are a person who take interest in game design you will se nidhogg for what it is, a masterclass in how to trim the fat without loosing any dept. I have been playing this game for hours with some friends in local coop and I must say I am not even close to mastering even one combat style in nidhogg. I love doing flying kicks when a opponent stabs the air and are unable to move much letting me fly kick them, but my friends have learned increasingly how to counter that. The ability of messing with the opponents mind by setting the sword into low stance forcing them to set theirs into low to not get disarmed only for you to throw your sword into their face, is just one of the tactics I have learned of. The game is truly challenging my ability to read the opponents moves in such a refreching way, that I rearly get in games now that I have gotten old and used to computer engineer college problems.

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      steves says:

      That was glorious, thank you!

      As someone who probably is old, I am going to steal “I really must say you smell old” and use it whenever I need to confuse and annoy someone at the same time;)

      Game is indeed brilliant too – original 80’s PoP is exactly the right thing to compare it to, and if you don’t love that you have no soul.

      • notlimahc says:

        The original Prince of Persia looks better than Nidhogg though.

    • Focksbot says:

      I have played it – put in a few hours, actually – and it falls short. I applaud the developer for abandoning the principle of bigger is better and instead focussing on making the core mechanic something that’s easy to pick up but difficult to master. But it just isn’t very deep, and it feels arbitrary and unfair. It’s not just that I don’t know why I lost sometimes – just as often, I don’t know why I won.

      And the tactics that you give examples of here – honestly, these are things players can work out (and get bored with) very quickly indeed. Waggle the sword, charge like you’re going to thrust, stop, throw, then roll to pick up another sword, or fly-kick etc. Or just come straight at them with a high stance and stab them in the head. It seems like the possibilities are endless … for all of ten minutes. Then it’s just rinse and repeat.

      Seriously, for me, Samurai Gunn was everything Nidhogg promised to be and more, while Nidhogg let me down badly.

      • The First Door says:

        I sort of both agree and disagree with you! For me it’s not about the possibilities being endless, as they certainly aren’t, it’s about when to use a limited set of possibilities, which I find much more interesting.

        What I’ve loved in my few hours of playing in local multiplayer is that it is much more about learning how your opposition plays than learning the game. Knowing, say, one friend is more partial to throwing their sword, or going for low attacks, gives you an edge… but soon that player realises you have worked out how to counter and changes their tactics, forcing you to switch yours up again.

        It’s that ebb and flow of power which permeates the whole game which really makes me and my friends come back to it!

        • Focksbot says:

          Yes, that’s a fair point – and I would feel the same way if I didn’t find the outcome to be so random and inexplicable sometimes.

          Interestingly, in between making my last comment and this one, I went back to it and played another session. In one round – and I promise I’m not making this up – I managed to stab my enemy and get disarmed *at the same time*. I mean huh? Another time I made a standing thrust while my opponent stood stock still, and I managed to impale myself on his sword. Seriously?

          • The First Door says:

            I’ve never really encountered that to be honest! The deaths always feel fair to me. But still, I suppose it doesn’t matter as we’ve both got a game to enjoy. I’m glad to hear Samurai Gunn is good too, I’ll no doubt pick it up sometime!

  11. Hatonastick says:

    While Nidhogg has more to it in some ways, I actually prefer the parody by Madgarden called Eggnogg (Eggnogg Website), which was originally created for the 2013 March TOJam. I’ve seen a Youtube video featuring a more recent build of Eggnogg but I don’t think it’s online yet.

    • Skabooga says:

      For myriad reasons, Eggnogg and its very existence makes me quite happy.

  12. TACD says:

    The link to ‘Graham’s Wot I Think’ leads back to this page.

  13. Radiant says:

    I have no desire to play this game.
    And for some reason no amount of praise or cult worship will drive me to it.
    Why is that?

    • Tiax says:

      Could it be because, like everyone else ever, you’re somehow able to form your own opinion?

  14. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    Generally I play multiplayer games so infrequently that I’ll only spend a couple of bucks on them. I’d be happy to try this if a friend bought it, but it does seem like the reception it’s getting from critics isn’t filtering through to players at all.

  15. Premium User Badge

    GibletHead2000 says:

    I ran this on the big screen in the livingroom at my birthday a couple of weeks ago. It was epic… The room was full of a bunch of thirtysomething gamers and non-gamers alike, all ‘ooooh’-ing and ‘aaaah’-ing as the battles turned one way and then another, each awaiting their turn. I don’t think any game has had quite that effect for some time.

  16. Shooop says:

    This article is so pretentious it’s painful.

    This game is deceptively deep, not deceptively simple. You may have a lot of moves to use, but in the end you’ll just stick with one or two thrusts, the divekick and sword throw because it’s too much of a hassle to bother with any others. There’s no incentive to master anything more complex. Good fighting games let you fool around for fun but force you to learn something if you want to go deeper. If you want to play in that deep end you’re forced to learn some tricks instead of just faking it.

    And the “aesthetic ” is “Let’s churn this out as fast and cheap as we can”. Giving more credit than what’s due is all the rage these days for video game critics. If they recorded the entire soundtrack over a telephone you’d probably say it’s refreshingly disorienting or some bullocks.

    The pretension in this article alone is enough to open a warpgate straight to /v/. Be careful not to bend your trilby.

    • Uboa Noticed You says:

      You’re one of those “this is a walking simulator” guys, aren’t you

  17. Premium User Badge

    noggin says:

    Being an utter nobody in The World of PC Gaming I’ve had to wait years to play Nidhogg. I knew I would love it, and I do. I love it to death!

    Graham’s intuition about the AI opponents is spot on: pressing 0 (zero) during a single player game brings up a little console at the top right with the opponent’s “name” which is also an insight into their preferred fighting style e.g. first opponent is AICHARNODIVEKICK, second is AICHARNOTHROW etc.

    The console also shows WHAT THE AI CHARACTER IS THINKING from moment to moment which is quite remarkable. Mostly they are thinking about killing you.

  18. The Random One says:

    This is why I come to RPS: for its elaborate butter metaphors.

  19. RagingLion says:

    I am loving Nidhogg. I’ve been having late night sessions with my housemate for the last few days and its great!

    I was thinking of it in comparison to Street Fighter myself and this totally has everything I need to make a game of that ilk something I can get into – I in theory would love to play fighting games and get something fromt hem but I can’t contain all the option nor executions in my head or thumbs. In Nidhogg I know all the moves I can pull and can choose between them at any moment – it’s also got to the point of becoming ‘feel’ rather than being something that requires thought through mental machinations before actually carrying out and I get hung up on that of things when there’s any amount of complexity to the actions. All that means it becomes about the mind games with the other player and so far each play session has been unique. The strategy I using so destructively 2 nights ago (the low sliding attack) was being anticipated that much more last night and meant I needed to change it up with more dive kicks and proper fencing. And I still feel like I can compartmentalise different individual skills within the game and feel like I can get better at each of them.

    So yeah, it’s a great time.