A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nidhogg 2 is a downloadable two-player multiplayer game that's an unexpected hybrid of fencing, tug-of-war, and ritualistic sacrifice. Players compete in frenetic matches, and the duration of these depend entirely on the skill level of those facing off. The violence is largely intended to be alternately cartoonish and gory, with spurts of blood spraying during face-offs. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content to be found.
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What's it about?
There isn't much of a story in NIDHOGG 2, but from context discovered in the game, it's clearly about the nature of conflict. Two combatants face off in an arena that stretches in both directions, and in matches, a single kill doesn't win you the game; rather, it forces you to concede ground in the level. Each player's ultimate goal is to fight and run and flee to their goal zone, whereupon the titular Nidhogg (a goofy-looking, almost Muppet-like flying enormous worm) eats them, ending the match. The creature and game are based on Norse mythology, about a monster that occupies the afterworld and devours criminals.
Is it any good?
This action game improves on the gameplay of the original by adding new levels, weapons, and challenges for players to explore. The tough thing about games that rely on a single hook is that if it doesn't initially grab you, it's unlikely to even after you've spent a decent amount of time on it. Nidhogg 2 has the distinction of being the sequel to the popular 2014 local multiplayer game Nidhogg, and this new release is essentially a visual upgrade that adds a couple of new weapons, a bunch of new maps, and not much else. Devotees of the original will appreciate these additions, as Nidhogg's biggest drawback was its paltry amount of stages and its repetition. The sequel's new stages add a good degree of variety: It'll take a while to learn each map's sudden shifts in altitude, series of pits to leap over, and twists like conveyer belts. Really, it's playing against other people that helps make the Nidhogg series shine, and these levels provide new facets to the madcap insanity.
What makes the two-player matches so fun is how clunky but responsive the controls are. Your warrior bumbles around each arena, with gangly arms and legs bounding beneath them as though made of wobbly Jell-O. It's an odd contradiction in the games' controls, because every time you get stabbed, it was definitely your own fault in providing a breach in your defense. On top of the original fencing foil, there's now a dagger, a broadsword, and a bow and arrow. Each offer a slightly different flavor to fighting, and the height at which you hold your weapon adds a couple of other wrinkles to your strategy. All of this adds up to the sort of game where you must act and react at the same time. Not knowing what your opponent will do and how, or how vulnerable you are (a single hit can take you out), provides for endless hours of zany fun. The only real knock against this game is how one-note it can be: Once you've played your first match, there's nothing really new in store.
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- Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows
- Price: $14.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Messhof
- Release date: August 15, 2017
- Genre: Arcade
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Blood and Gore, Crude Humor
- Last updated: March 8, 2019
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