Nidhogg 2 is a local multiplayer game where players fight to reach the opposite end of the screen to perform self-sacrifice to a giant, mythical worm called Nidhogg. This pious, violent game of tug-of-war sees players using rapiers, broadswords, knives, and arrows to outsmart one another. Nidhogg 2 could be characterized as a fighting game, but not in the traditional sense. Its easy-to-play nature makes it a great party game, however, its replayability leaves a lot to be desired.

All 10 of the stages in Nidhogg 2 are separated into various screens. The player in control must make it to the leftmost screen if they spawned on the right, or the rightmost screen if they spawned on the left. The defending player is tasked with taking down the attacking player, becoming the controlling player if they succeed in doing so. It’s not uncommon for a match of Nidhogg 2 to spend most of its time being pulled back-and-forth between the same few screens.

Weapons can have as many as three stances; low, medium, and high. Opposing blows from the same side will block the attack and have the potential to disarm a player. Unarmed fighters are totally defenseless, as they would now have access to an arsenal of kicking moves. A kick matching the stance of an armed attack will unarm that player, and getting up close allows a kill with a throw move.

The move-list in Nidhogg 2 is by no means overwhelming. The weapon you spawn with is randomized, but they all have unique strengths and weaknesses. For instance, broadswords are slow but always disarm during a clash; whereas knives are fast, but have a really short range. Worst case scenario, you can always toss your weapon and hope for the best. It ultimately boils down to reading your opponent.

With that being said, the full package here is a tad underwhelming. Local multiplayer does offer a good degree of customization, such as turning certain weapons off, turning low gravity on, or making the battle throws only. There’s even a tournament mode for up to eight players. Nidhogg 2 does offer an online mode, but finding a match is difficult. Aside from that, the game doesn’t offer much else. There is an arcade mode, but it’s just a set of increasingly difficult bot matches. The main issue with the game is there just isn’t a lot to do.

Nidhogg 2 is fun to play for a few rounds at a party, but it’s not exactly the next EVO hit. It’s a pick-up-and-play game with the potential for intense matches between friends, but that’s about all it’s good for. The game works, and none of its few weapons feel more powerful than its peer. The problem is that there’s no reason to keep playing. Arcade mode isn’t varied enough to make it worthy of more than a single playthrough. The base game doesn’t have a ton of nuance either, so it’s not really fun to go back and practice against the AI or online players. Nidhogg 2 is good, but I only recommend it for a party.