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Begun, The Nidhoggening Has

Cling, clang, splut, [giant worm sound]

Take up your blade, ye merest of mortals. Though in truth, it's more of a formality than anything, for I shall pierce your heart before it's even able to flutter in fea- oh, you got me. Aha! But I'm back, and this time I shall deliver a blinding riposte tha- right, my organs. A clever place to strike indeed. But not clever enough, for I shall now throw my sword in the wrong direction and cartwheel intimidatingly away from you. Mind games, you see. Nidhogg is a chess match, friend, and I'm so many moves ahead that you-

Win. You win. Maybe I could stand to become a little better at Nidhogg.

I have yet to master Nidhogg, admittedly (I'm probably only third or fourth best in the world), but the game itself is a masterful expression of sublime simplicity. Two players do murders to one another, what with pointy metal sticks and gentlemanly fisticuffs, until one of them is devoured by a giant worm. Though the end goal may be derivative of most sports, the combat is anything but. It's quick, incredibly tense, and people die and come back to life constantly. Again: last thing derivative of real life, everything else wholly original.

Seriously though, it's a race to the finish in opposite directions, and also there are swords. The formula couldn't be more basic, but hidden complexity abounds. Poke high? Poke low? Attempt to disarm my opponent or go for the gut? Slide-kick? Throw my sword? Hurl extremely personal insults at my opponent because words are the sharpest swords of all? These are just surface-level choices.

It must, however, be noted that Nidhogg is at its best in local multiplayer. Online is an option, but the game got its reputation appearing at various conventions and gatherings of the geekly-minded for a reason. That said, if you abhor other humans so much that you won't even murder them repeatedly with a sword, there's also an single-player arcade mode. I doubt it's all that long, but it's something at least.

Nidhogg is available right now on Steam, and it'll run you $11.99 until January 20th, at which point it will revert to its full price of $14.99. I think you should purchase it. Then we can have a duel for the ages, a rivalry that will necessitate new forms of storytelling to contain its magnitu- OK, that was luck. Also, my cat wouldn't stop trying to sit on the keyboard and I've been blind for 17 years.

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