The indie games scene has always been a bit different. Whether it be graphically, gameplay or narrative, indie games just offer something that regular games don’t. The one striking thing about indie games though, is it’s rare that you’ll play the same game over and over. Nidhogg isn’t simply an indie game though.
The first encounter
I first encountered Nidhogg on a trip to ExPlay 2011 in Plymouth (the convention, rather than the monthly gathering of devs) a few years ago where it was one of the games on the Plymatron (an arcade cabinet loaded with indie games). It only had the castle level at the time, but even then watching tournament after tournament, I knew it was a game to watch out for. And the phrase easy to play, hard to master has never had such a resounding truth. The controls are fairly simple, left, right, up, down, jump and stab.
It would have worked on a Sega Master System, it is that simple, but refreshing to look at. And yet the play feels more complex than it looks. There’s an array of attacks which keep both you and your enemy off guard. First, there’s the ability to throw your sword at you opponent (up and stab together). And if you need to pick it up again, a simple down button over a sword works. Then there’s the flying kick, which can be used to both dodge over enemies or simply to knock them away from their sword. Once the enemy has been separated from their sword and laying on the floor, before they get up, you can move over them and rip something out. I’m not sure what, it’s all a bit messy. But it does the trick.
The point of the swordplay
But regardless of controls and such, the aim is to kill your opponent and then run to the end of the level. There aren’t any other enemies, just a few pits to jump over and clouds to fall through. But the tricky part is that you are forced to defeat your opponent over and over again. What this means, is that for equally matched opponents, the game could go on potentially forever. For skilled versus noobie scenarios – matches could be far quicker.
As far as PC games are concerned, there’s few that let 2 players use one computer. This is one of those games. You can play single player against the computer, you can play locally with another player, either on the same computer or on different ones over LAN, you can play online and you can even have tournaments. Because of it’s very nature of being literally one player versus another, there’s virtually no luck involved. It’s all about speed and agility.
Overall, I found the title to be short, but fun and with potentially unlimited replay value. I question the price for what it is, but I can easily see myself playing it again and again. And using it to settle who should do the washing up.
Nidhogg is out now on Steam, produced by messhof . We bought our own copy.