Of all the fighting video games I imagined might ever get sequels, Nidhogg was pretty low on my wishlist. The 2014 sword-duel game was a masterwork of simplicity, and it benefited from looking and playing like something from an early '80s home console. Two-button controls. Minuscule color palettes. A simple directive to stab and run. I had seen too many zillions-of-buttons, zillions-of-commands fighting games, and Nidhogg, even more than its one-button contemporary Divekick, served as a delightful palette cleanser.
When its sequel was announced last year, fans—including myself—wondered what the heck was going on. Where was the refreshing simplicity? What was up with these new weapons? Why did the fighters transform into grotesque, mutated Homer Simpsons?
Once I went hands-on with Nidhogg 2 last December, I instantly changed my tune. That love has only grown since playing its preview builds in bits and pieces—and it's grown more since getting the final version. Nidhogg 2 is everything a great sequel should be: an opportunity to build on a solid foundation, a successful gamble on updated mechanics, and a better game for fans both old and new.