Length of play session: 1 hour
Fun level (-10 to 10): 8
Nidhogg is a 2-dimensional, side-scrolling, fencing game. The game is played between two players. Each player attempts to use their sword and the several movement techniques to kill the other player and push towards one side of the stage. The players will constantly respawn when they die to prevent the player who killed them from reaching that side of the stage and winning the game.
I had been waiting to play this game with my friend for a couple weeks, as I had been too busy with exams to sit down and spend the time to play it. Due to this wait (and my not-busy schedule), my mood before the play session was that of a relaxed excitement. That seems like an oxymoron, but I can guarantee relaxation and excitement were being felt at the same time.
Each round can vary wildly in time, depending on how well each player defends when the other player is on the attack. Our first round was quick. I knew about the game, and a bit about how to play, and my friend did not. I made quick work of his character whenever he respawned and ran to my winning side of the stage.
The second round saw my friend learn how to defend, as well as develop his own strategy. We went back and forth for what seemed like hours, but was only 10 minutes or so. Each time I killed him and was able to run to my game-winning end of the stage, he managed to kill me before I reached that end. He would then run it back until I managed to kill him and start the process over. This is the pleasure of Nidhogg, and it is, indeed, pleasurable. The players are perfectly even, and the matches can last until one player gains enough momentum to defeat the other player several times in a row.
This momentum can come from many places: a new strategy developed on the fly, a series of lucky guesses on the attacker’s part, a series of unlucky guesses on the defender’s part, or the defender cracking under pressure. Most wins involve all the previously listed things, and that makes for a very fun game when the players are equal in skill. Each moment, attacking or defending, is full of so much blood-pumping excitement that I was slamming curse words down in anger and happiness.
My mood after having such an exciting play session is always more positive than it was before the play session. Excitement is the killer of boredom and depression.
Game: Nidhogg 2
Length of play session: 3 hours
Fun level (-10 to 10): 10
My friend and I played Nidhogg 1 before jumping into the second game, as the second game is a strict upgrade to the first. Nidhogg 2 contains more stages, more weapons, more moves, and a (limited) character creator over the first game. Everything good in the first game is better here.
One of the mechanics that makes Nidhogg 2 even more fun and exciting than Nidhogg 1 is how your character cycles through five different weapons on respawns. My friend became really good at using the rapier, and I became really good with the bow, but both weapons had shortcomings when used against one of the other weapons. This made games go even more back and forth than in the first game, which made things more intense, more exciting, and more fun.
It’s really hard to not come out of Nidhogg in a better mood than when you entered.
Nidhogg. Messhof Games. 2014. Video game.
Nidhogg 2. Messhof Games. 2017. Video game.