I’ve been able to play Nidhogg versus the AI and against couch competitors now and wanted to take a quick opportunity to share my thoughts.  It offers melee combat mechanics that are not secondary to other game play mechanics such as shooting or dungeon crawling.  Nidhogg is only just melee combat, and it is polished to near perfection.  Of course, the trailers can already tell you what the game is about.

At first, it is like playing games of rock-paper-scissors in quick succession.  This might make it sound like a far simpler game than it is.  But you quickly realize that you need to learn to read your opponent and act more quickly than it takes for them to react.  This directly ties into the mastery of the game’s mechanics, and then leads you to pay more attention to the level designs.

Each level subtly incorporates a wrinkle into how the mechanics work.  Ceilings way stop jumps, floors may disappear after a moment, or there could walls to cling to.  In each of these cases, the player who best understands the mechanics and how the level affects them, and also has the reflexes to act on that knowledge quickly.  It fosters a very satisfying learning curve.  The game play is deep without being overly technical.  Nidhogg is a game that knows what it is, and does it’s job very effectively.  It’s an excellent fighting game that doesn’t tie constrain itself to the conventions of the genre.

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