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Developer: Meshoff Games Publisher: Meshoff Games Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 Release Date: August 15, 2017 ESRB: T for Teen Note: This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game The art of the duel is one of pop culture’s most unmistakable tropes. A one-on-one battle of wits, physicality, or both, exists in everything from Hollywood films and TV shows to professional sports. Nidhogg 2 knows the allure of single combat all too well and seeks to outshine the debut effort of the original, fast-paced fencing game. Is this fight worth the price of admission, or has the humorous dueling simulator seen its heyday too soon? Nidhogg 2 is a game of timing and strategy, which seems obvious from the outset. Unlike the original, however, the sequel adds a slew of new weapons with which to dismember, skewer, and disembowel your nemesis with. Battles are often see-saw tug-of-wars, with opposing players battling back and forth to see who can reach the other side of the screen first. Levels are divided into distinct “scenes”, with the sole objective of killing your way to the right or left of each space. Victory results in being devoured by a giant space worm. Yay? The new weapons that supplement the balanced fencing sword offer more tactical nuance. The broadsword is slower but extends your reach, while the bow offers a difficult but effective long-distance option. The fencing rapier remains the easiest to use and master, rewarding those who parry and beat their opponent’s timing with brutal finishes and eye-cratering kills (literally). Nidhogg 2, no matter how colorful, certainly doesn’t shy away from the gory details. Speaking of colors, Nidhogg 2 looks noticeably different than its predecessor. Levels are virtual acid trips of strange cartoon spaces, with appropriately weird-looking player avatars. Kills paint the environments in neon-hued pools of bodily fluid, and certain environmental objects add the suspense of not being able to see the opponent you’re trying to stop. It all leads to frenetic, chaotic combat that may or may not suit your aesthetic tastes. I didn’t mind the presentation, but the art style wasn’t my favorite either. The driving soundtrack in the background is varied for each level, but does tend to get a bit repetitive for the matches that last longer than 5 minutes. There isn’t much else to the audio beyond the clang of swords and disturbing squeals of dying foes. Nidhogg 2 is, in some respects, as minimalist as the original. If you’re looking for an audio-visual experience that leaves you breathless, you may find yourself breathing a bit more than anticipated. Nidhogg 2, of course, is a multiplayer game at heart and shines best when played with frenemies. You can challenge the AI to a basic arcade mode, but nothing beats couch co-op where you’ll find yourself laughing hysterically at the thousands of dumb ways to die. Additional players can be added to the fray for even more chaotic madness, but Nidhogg 2 is at its best when it’s just you and the person who killed your parental figure or insulted your honor. Whichever backstory you choose, you can rest assured that the race to the space worm is amusing, stupidly violent, and guaranteed to make your eyes bleed neon. The single-player offerings and presentation are a bit spartan, but Nidhogg 2 was made to be enjoyed with others. Skipping out on the multiplayer would be doing a disservice to what is sure to become a staple of dueling fans everywhere. Pros + Easy to pick-up and play with friends + Deeper, more nuanced combat system + Naturally-occurring humor + Controls quite well Cons + Singleplayer offerings are a bit lacking + Art style may be off-putting Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Nidhogg 2 is a nice expansion of the original, splicing in a handful of new weapons and a rather drastic new visual direction. While it may not be the best experience solo, dueling friends has never been easier or more entertaining. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher