These days, many see fighting games as impenetrable messes of button combinations and complex controllers, but there’s been a resurgence of sorts that harkens back to the days of simple, mono-a-mono fights. “Divekick” provided an exceedingly simple fighting system — to the point of being a parody. And while “Nidhogg” is a fair bit more complex than “Divekick,” it still takes the “easy to learn, hard to master” philosophy and runs with it, making for a tense and fun fighting experience.
Two players take up arms as fencers. Games begin in the center of a very long, two-dimensional stage. The goal of each player is to reach his or her own side of the stage. The participants have a small variety of moves: an attack from three different positions (high, medium, and low), a divekick, and as a last-ditch effort, throwing their swords.
Once a participant is brutally murdered, the other gets a small amount of time to run toward his or her objective before his or her adversary respawns, and then the battle of wits begins anew.
It truly is an experience firmly rooted in the world of multiplayer, and there’s almost no single-player content. All a fencer who plays alone will get is a tournament against a number of computer-controlled opponents. Everything else is handled with either online or local multiplayer, and as a result, players looking for an impressive single-player mode will be disappointed.
Story? Don’t be ridiculous. The story, if it can even be called that, is laughably convoluted. The title, “Nidhogg,” comes from a mythical Norse serpent who devoured many a noble man.
The winner of each match has the “honor” of being devoured by this monster, who awaits the players at the end of their goals.
It’s an odd setup, but it could be worse.
So players looking for substantial single-player content should look elsewhere, but to anyone else, it’s certainly worth a gander. Like chess, it’s a game that requires strategy and cunning in order to win, and every victory feels earned and worth the effort. At 10 bucks with a group of friends or at a party, it’s incredibly hard to go wrong.