by Joseph Leray
According to a report over at IndieGames, Messhof's pixely, 2D competitive fencing game "Nidhogg" will be out this year, accompanied by a suite of new techniques, stages, and modes.
"Nidhogg" has long felt like some sort of urban legend. It's been in development since at least 2011 by now, and it was demoed at certain events -- most recently at this year's Evo Championship Series fighting game tournament, for example -- but the buzz it generated in certain game industry circles always felt remote and unattainable.
This is true of all in-development games, of course, but trailers and screenshots are effective, if imperfect, kludges. "Nidhogg"'s official website is as sparse as sparse can be -- fitting, given Messhof's lo-fi visual style -- giving it the air of a violent, pixelated aurora borealis. You know it exists, but you've mostly given up on seeing it in person.
Here's now "Nidhogg" works: two players are trying to reach opposite ends of the screen, each blocking the other. Armed with a fencing épée, you can try to stab your foe (who will explode into a mess of pixels if you do), or juke and jive past him like so. On the next screen the process starts over, and the first to reach his or her respective end of the castle wins.
The basic rule set is pretty simple, but players can defend throw their swords, or even roll between their opponents' legs. It uses all of the zoning, poking, and reading tactics of normal fighting games like "Street Fighter" and distills them down to their most basic movesets. I've never played it, but it seems like a lot of fun.
So the news that "Nidhogg" is coming later this year, hopefully on Steam according to Messhof, is welcome indeed. Up until now, standard "Nidhogg" matches have been local multiplayer affairs, but the retail version will include single-player matches against AI and online multiplayer.
The new "Nidhogg" also expands the game's moveset to include grabbing ledges, crawling, wall-jumping, and dive-kicking, all the better to alternatively obliterate or outrun your opponents as the case may be.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter