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Have you played... Nidhogg 2?

A cluttered sequel

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

The original Nidhogg was a tense, terse swordfighting game best played in local multiplayer. Nidhogg 2 changes the art style, adds an array of new weapons, and in the process makes it less tense and less fun.

I can understand the desire to expand on Nidhogg’s core concept. Nidhogg 2 adds axes, longswords, bows and arrows and more, but in doing so creates asymmetric fights that seem naturally less dramatic and thrilling than the original.

The new art style doesn’t help. It trades the pixel warpscapes of the original for something fleshier, more real, and no less grotesque, but also makes scenes harder to read. Nidhogg occasionally looked like a visual migraine, but Nidhogg 2’s more literal rending of a flaming backdrop makes it harder for me to track where characters are. Its fleshier bloodsacks make the moment of a stab a little harder to register.

It’s not all bad. The netcode is improved, though still not perfect, and I like that the art brings with it some environmental storytelling. Nidhogg 1 still exists, too, so it’s not like the option to play it doesn’t still exist. But Nidhogg 2 feels like a game aiming to satisfy those who found Nidhogg 1 ugly and overly simplistic, which were complaints I personally never had. Your mileage may vary.

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Graham Smith

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