Saturday, January 18, 2014

PC Spotlight #67: Nidhogg

Title: Nidhogg
Developer: Messhof
Platforms: PC
Price: $14.99 (currently on sale for $11.99)
I rarely play multiplayer. Unlike most in my generation, I was never really drawn to online play. I'm the kind of guy who plays Call of Duty and Battlefield for their single player campaigns and Samurai Gunn for solo survival. Until recently, I only ever sunk time into Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell Chaos Theory's multiplayer...and now I can add Nidhogg to that list. I'm hooked.
Compared to the other recently released multiplayer game Samurai Gunn, Nidhogg may seem tame on the surface. Fights are one-on-one affairs, there are no bullets to deflect, and there are far less maps here than in Gunn. But gameplay is what matters and gameplay is where Nidhogg shines. Nidhogg is a tense tactical game where your skills as a player matter as much as your ability to lure and trick your opponent. It's a subtle give and take, of establishing patterns only to break them, of intimate moments of stillness and caution as the two of you step back and forth anticipating the first strike. It's a game where all are equally matched, where true skill decides the victor rather than the perks, upgrades, and boosters of so many other games.
The simplicity of the controls hide a surprisingly strategic game. One hit kills and there's a wide range of moves and maneuvers at your disposal, from wall jumping and rolls to divekicks and leg sweeps. This versatile moveset turns every fight into more than just a simple sword fighting, where being able to fake out your opponent, being able to learn their strategies and then use that against them, is key to success. Nidhogg's slower paced, more cerebral challenge is absolutely addicting. It's a game where the long seconds of sizing up your enemy is as tense and satisfying as the rapid fire exchange of blows that comes after.
The surreal graphics and chunky pixels give the game a style all its own, and the varied animations makes every fight seem fluid and dynamic. While the number of maps may seem small, it's definitely a case of quality over quantity. Each map is unique, with its own eccentricities to be mastered, from the concealing high grass of the Wilds to the collapsing bridges in Clouds. Not only that, each map consists of several areas as you and your opponent push back and forth to victory. Epic twenty minute duels and last second reversals that shift the tides in your favor are not uncommon.
If the local and online matches are not your style, there's also a single player mode, that pits you against increasingly difficult AI, as well as match modifiers such as no divekicks or no sword throws. Either way, Nidhogg turns combat into a tense tactical art, and the developer plans to add more content in future updates. You can purchase the game here and on Steam.

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