From the wonderful 8-bit graphics (they move so LIFELIKE THOUGH), to the music by Daedelus, there are many maps, tournament styled gameplay, and special settings to really make the game your own in this quirky little indie gem from Messhof.
Once you play either [Nidhogg or Samurai Gunn] for two minutes, you're going to want as wide a library as possible of games in a similar style, and you can believe that's the sincerest compliment my brain contains.
Expressed in modest trappings, Nidhogg quietly aims to recast the mold of a competitive fighting game. A deliberate lo-fi aesthetic and input limited to the absolute basics cleverly mask engagement as hardcore and contemplative as any of its peers. By opening its boundaries past the usual static fighting arena, Nidhogg transforms from another one-on-one fighter into something more akin to a goal-oriented sport. It's a fighting game simplified without feeling dumb, a multi-staged combat arena with no particular advantages, and as much a battle of wits as an all-out brawler. Nidhogg is an almost-perfect competitive game.
So what we have here is a future-classic, old-school indie title for individuals and like-minded folk alike. The visuals are retro but work, the soundtrack by Daedelus is dynamic and ever-changing in tune with the onscreen action. The code is so precise the fighting is always balanced and true to your inputs - whether that is a disarm, throw of your knife and preference for fisticuffs, or a straight thrust to the chest (with a little wiggle up and down for that achievement) - that the result is always joy, whether you win or lose. Some might question the idea of paying for a game that's been available free in one form or another for a few years. The riposte to that is that the game is worth it. The developer deserves to be rewarded and this is the best version of the game you could ask for - tournament mode on the living room TV with joypads is, well, quite exquisite.
Nidhogg is a bit of a one trick pony in the gameplay department. It dresses up the idea of this running sword fight with a number of level modifiers, multiplayer modes, local tournaments matches and the single-player campaign; however, at the end of the day everything comes down to winning the virtual sword fights.
Nidhogg is a polarizing game. Experiencing it the way it's meant to be played (via local multiplayer) is a fantastically fun event.
It's a small package but there's a wealth of value to be found in the creative gameplay that'll spur you through many hours of gaming.
On top of this the local multiplayer is cracking but the online component doesn't come across nearly as well. Poor net code means bouts can often suffer fits of lag that can massively affect the outcome of a game, and a lack of options means this is pretty barebones. Still, despite the small niggles this is one game that is more than worth your time.
You might want to stay away if you plan to play alone, but with its extremely responsive controls, lightning-fast pace, and easy-to-learn combat, Nidhogg is one of the most enjoyable and competitive local multiplayer games on the market.
Nidhogg is fundamentally about that laughter; not the happy laughter you give to a good joke, but the manic and true laughter you use to break down walls in yourself. I think that laughter is why some people fight. I know it's why I play Nidhogg.