The Californian based studio Messhof has come a long way in 5 years. Their latest work, Nidhogg 2, is slated to come out for PC and PS4 in summer of this year. A gameplay demonstration was recently showcased on PS Underground with the two creators, Mark Essen and Kristy Norindr. The first game in the series is where the devs made their mark; a fast paced game about dueling fencers trying to outrun their opponent. The pixel graphics of the original have been updated but the fast and accessible fighting has stayed intact.
The premise of the sequel is pretty much the same as the first; kill your opponent and run as far as you can in the way you’re facing until the other player respawns. Rinse, repeat, and reach the final screen to be eaten by the mythical Nidhogg. It doesn’t make all that much sense, but this is one indie title where gameplay is more important than anything else.
That isn’t to say that the graphics aren’t important. This is actually the first thing that everyone who’s familiar with the first game notices. The departure from blocky, Atari style of the characters and backgrounds have been replaced with vibrant avatars and cartoony environments and gore. The creators had this to say when asked about the drastic change:
“We wanted to add things to the game, it wasn’t coded in a way that made sense so at one point we decided to recode the game and I was excited about doing different kinds of animation as opposed to just pixel art. And so we found this artist Toby Dixon whose style we were both really drawn to… We went on to try something different and up the resolution a bit, try and use these different animation systems, like we’re using this skeletal animation now which is super fun.”
Along with the new graphic style, additional strategies and weapons can be seen in the gameplay demonstration. There are a total of four weapons that are cycled through as you die (you can change the rotation and types in the options). You have two types of sword, a dagger, and a bow and arrow. Some weapons can deflect others and all can be thrown.
Don’t worry if you find yourself defenseless, as you can use your fists and feet offensively. You can roll about and even kick your opponent’s weapon out of their hands.
There are also a number of levels to choose from. This includes a flying airship, the wreckage of a flying airship, a forest with a warped Deku tree in the middle, and a volcano with hot lava underneath. At one point Kristy is asked if they actually walked over hot coals as research. At first the host is in disbelief of her answer:
“Are you serious or just some Nidhogg 2 humor?”
“We actually did.”
Their are also environmental additions to keep players guessing. There are pits, different level playing fields, and ground with conveyor belt properties. But even with all the additions of new weapons, moves, and obstacles, the core gameplay and pace stays the same. Kill, run left or right, and do it again. This process is hypnotic and can go on for awhile. After matches lasted over 20 minutes at the last PAX showcase, the team decided to put in timers.
When asked what Messhof hoped the ultimate goal of the game was, Kristy Norindr simply responded, “destroy relationships.”
That’s definitely a risk I want to take this summer after watching the full gameplay demonstration. You can check it out below: