Nidhogg is a fast paced multiplayer fencing game where the objective is to stab your opponents face off and sprint to the other side of the map. Where you will be eaten by a giant mythical worm. That looks like it has been beautifully rendered in MS paint.
Players must try and kill one of their opponents (or let their opponents accidentally kill themselves) to gain the advantage then make it to the end of the map where their reward (the aforementioned big pink norse thing) awaits. Beyond gaining the advantage kills count for nothing, so even a player who has been slaughtered 20 times can get a lucky stab in then sprint to victory. As one touch with a sword is an instant kill, lucky stabs are quite common.
Graphically, it looks like something from the 80s. There are genuinely better looking flash games floating around the internet. But it doesn’t need to look pretty, underneath t all the core gameplay is solid and that’s all you really need. Beauty is only pixel deep after all.
The action takes place over four different maps which can tweak the gameplay slightly. One map is set in the clouds and standing on a certain part for too long will send you plummeting to your death. Another has several stretches of long grass where players can lay in wait for their opponents if they wish and yet another is laced with conveyor belts and features a tight corridor that stops players simply jumping over their opponents.
The controls are quite simple, players can run, jump, kick, adjust the height of their sword and throw their weapon at their opponent. Mastering these controls is a bit more difficult, more advanced players can cartwheel through their opponent’s defences, disarm their adversaries and actually achieve something when they decide to toss their weapon as opposed to just disarming themselves.
The pacing and simplicity makes the game quite fun. On several occasions I’ve killed my opponent and made it right to the end of the map only to have them respawn in front of me in the last inch of turf, catch me completely off guard and skewer my featureless, sprinting character. Rather than swear and launch the controller up the wall I’ve found myself laughing at the full situation. Dying in this game is oddly funny and I can’t work out why.
The game features single player, local multiplayer, online and tournament modes. Single player puts the players against a multitude of AI opponents each of a different colour, local multiplayer and online sees players face off against other living, breathing, humans and tournament mode allows multiple players to compete in a knockout system until only one remains.
So, all in all, Nidhogg is a fun game and well worth a look. If you have friends it can provide hours of fun and if you’re a social outcast you can probably entertain yourself by speed running it or something.