Nidhogg 2: Drawing swords at PlayStation Experience 2016

It's got a new look (boy, does it have a new look), but does Nidhogg 2 play like the original? Shacknews goes hands-on at this year's PlayStation Experience.

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There are some fond memories around Shacknews circles of Messhof's one-on-one fencing game, Nidhogg. The concept was simple, yet wildly clever. It's a race to the finish, but only if you're on offense by killing your opponent. It's a back-and-forth showdown that only ends when one player reaches the other side of the stage.

The good news about Nidhogg 2 is that the core element of the game is unchanged. The objective is still the same, offering that same Nidhogg satisfaction that the first game provided. So what's changed? Shacknews went hands-on at PlayStation Experience to find out.

First off, it's worth addressing the elephant in the room. The first thing that caught a lot of eyeballs (including those of our Chatty community) when Nidhogg 2 was first announced was the game's distinctly new art style. The Atari 2600-style pixels have gone by the wayside in favor of a more 16-bit visual style from artist Toby Dixon. It's an acquired taste to say the least. It's difficult not to come away with the impression that the characters look like Homer Simpson and Ubisoft's Rabbids had a baby and then spent an hour in the washing machine. It takes getting used to and it may be a jarring change for those accustomed to the look of the original Nidhogg.

With that said, the stage design looks like it's taken several steps forward. The new art style is allowing Messhof to introduce some cool new arenas, such as a forest stage that appears to be inspired by the 16-bit Ghosts 'N Goblins titles and an upgraded version of the original castle. There are genuinely creative ideas, like final screens that send players into the gullet of the Nidhogg creature and scrambling to come out the other end. Ten new maps are planned in total.

The mechanics have also received a couple of noticeable tweaks. The rapier is still the default weapon, but as players die repeatedly, they'll often respawn with new weapons, each with different advantages and downsides. Daggers can be thrown faster, two-handed broad swords can better block thrown weapons, and bows can nail opponents from a distance. Each weapon can still be chucked at foes and can be picked back up from the ground, but players need to be a little more careful about it this time around. Stages will feature doors, climbable structures, sticky surfaces, and other obstacles that make individual positioning matter much more than before.

Nidhogg 2 feels very much like the original game, but the slight mechanical tweaks make it feel different enough that fans might have divided preferences. Walking away from this hands-on, it does feel like some Nidhogg players may feel more comfortable with the visual style and minimalistic mechanics of the original game. But Nidhogg 2 offers enough cool new ideas and refined movement that it'll come with plenty of its own charm.

Nidhogg 2 is aiming for a summer release on PlayStation 4 and PC.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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