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Video Game / Nidhogg

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Nidhogg is a 2014 fencing action multiplayer game, created by indie developer Messhof, with music from Daedelus.

The game takes the player(s) into several arenas that they have to clear, using an interesting "tug-of-war" and fencing mechanic, forcing the player to try and outsmart their foe, killing them to be allowed to progress. Also, every time you win, you do so by reaching the end of your enemy's side of the arena.

The game is currently out on Steam, with a sequel released on August 15 2017, with different graphics and a selection of alternate weapons (dagger, claymore, bow and arrow, and the initial rapier), each with their own behavior.

The game contains these examples:

  • Art Evolution: Massively between the first and second games! They don't even look like a series even though the game play is, at its core, the same.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The computer-controlled fencers seem to have lots of trouble with stage hazards such as gaps, conveyors, and collapsing floors. They rarely change tactics after you've caught on to the best way to consistently counter their moves.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: It's possible for a player to finish off a downed opponent with one of these, with or without their sword.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Playing Singleplayer mode pitches you against several AI enemies, each with their unique traits and attack patterns. Using their signature attacks against them can turn the tide of battle.
  • Bottomless Pits: All stages have some that you can use to your advantage if you don't have the right of way. Some have accompanying hazards such as conveyor belts and crumbling floors. Occasionally both fighters fall in at the same time, which leads to a somewhat awkward pause in the fight as both wait to respawn, and also eliminates right of way forcing a fight to gain initiative just like in the beginning of the battle.
  • Character Title: The eponymous Nidhogg appears in the game, although it doesn't seem to serve an actual point to the game besides being the goal.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Each character has their own color, even in Singleplayer, sometimes corresponding to their attack styles. A certain shade of orange aggressively approaches in low stance, a certain shade of blue keeps the distance in hopes of a reckless attack for a disarm, flashing rainbow characters seem to switch tactics occasionally. Their color also matches the color of blood they leave. The player in Singleplayer will always be yellow.
  • Confusion Fu: Occasionally what you have to resort to, especially against a human opponent. Doing things like short hops, dive kicks in the wrong direction, rolling randomly in both directions, sudden approaches and retreats, all meant to make your opponent react in certain ways you can take advantage of.
  • Combat Pragmatism: Often times, the best method to gain significant ground is to jump over your opponent and run the other direction. If you absolutely have to engage (such as when you don't have right of way), you can use things like height differences, crumbling floors, scattered swords for repeated sword throws, wheat fields to conceal your stance, and so on to gain an advantage.
  • Come Back Mechanic: Dying or falling behind, screen-wise, you will usually respawn in front of the player with your sword drawn. Fleeing off-screen is a valid tactic - if your opponent is behind you and running away, it's very difficult to catch up with them. Respawning in front gives you another chance to stop them.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Played with: Dying respawns you rather quick, but due to the game having a fast-paced nature, dying can result in the enemy moving through a screen. Since an arena is generally built with about 5-7 total screens, starting in the middle, this can easily mean that you'll lose if you die too many times. You do respawn rather fast, but it gets longer the more "death-streaks" you have. But the same applies to your enemy.
  • Defiant to the End: If you like, you can try throwing your sword at Nidhogg or try to fake him/her/it out by jumping and dive kicking, maybe even both... it never works though.
  • Diving Kick: jump-kicking with or without a sword is a high-risk, high-reward move that disarms the opponent if pulled off successfully.
  • Emergent Gameplay: Although the game is presented with a 6 button/key scheme (4 of those being directional), the game has a lot of advanced player combat.
  • Eye Scream: Implied when stabbing from high stance. The sword goes directly through the head section of the fencer... and you can keep it there if you don't move.
  • Flynning: Distinctly averted for a fighting game primarily done with rapiers. The fencing is done very much without excessive movement or flourish unless meant for a mindgame, and while clashing swords are common, they are more light touches unless it's a complete disarm.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Every death spews out a ridiculous amount of blood which stains the immediate area, colored to match the color of the fencer. Gets a little ridiculous for the rainbow flashing characters, who spew out streams of every color every time they die. Not immediately disengaging after stabbing your opponent keeps the corpse impaled on the sword and gushing more blood.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Parrying a thrown sword reflects it back at your foe, instantly killing them.
  • Interface Screw: The middle section of the battlefield in the clouds has an extremely distracting background, often using the same color as your sword. Disarms and blocking a thrown sword causes the whole screen to flash white.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: Other than fighting to be a sacrifice, there isn't much plot.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Your fencer can take any number of punches and kicks (though they can knock you down for a finishing move), but the slightest touch with the wrong end of a rapier kills, even glancing touches on the hand or arm.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: You win by getting to other end of the arena and get eaten by the Nidhogg.
    • If you win a tournament, the victory screen features your character burned at the stake!
  • Side View: Something that is very evident of it being a 2D sword-fighting/fencing game.
  • Super Window Jump: One stage has windows in the upper levels that can be broken through, sometimes accompanied with a dive kick as a flourish.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: While not set in stone, almost every move and stance has a hard counter.
    • Low stance defends against rolls for sweep kicks and seems to have the fastest (and therefore safest) attack animation, but loses against sword throws and dive kicks. Safest way to finish an unarmed opponent if there is no space to jump.
    • Mid stance is good for general defense, giving you enough time to switch to the other stances as need be, but does not defend perfectly against all moves. May have the longest attack range. Usually defends against sword throws.
    • High stance usually makes any dive kick attempt instant death, while sword throws almost never get through. Great for whenever the opponent must jump a gap or drop from higher ground, but leaves plenty of space for a roll in and sweep. Any attack from high stance could simply be ducked.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: You can do this as a surprise attack. As long as the enemy doesn't parry it, which launches the thing straight back at you, or jumps over it and leaving you without a weapon.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: When stabbing a player with the sword/rapier, it's possible to get them stuck on it. You can keep them stuck on it by constantly moving the sword back and forth. They'll finally die once you let go of them.
  • When All Else Fails, Go Right: For the yellow player; for the orange player, it'll be Go Left. This game actually substitutes this trope for its version of health; the amount of territory covered is the indicator of victory. Get pushed all the way back to the left (or right, as the case may be) and you lose.
  • A Winner Is You: Finishing the single player game gets you nothing except a brief "Game Complete" text over the normal end-of-stage screen, along with the time taken to finish.
  • Wrap Around: If one player doesn't have the "GO!" indicator, if they reach one end of the screen, they'll be teleported infront of the player who's in "control" of the screen. A Come Back Mechanic.