The original Nidhogg released in 2014, to great critical acclaim. Despite coming from humble indie beginnings, the game saw great success, earning approval from many influential YouTubers and mainstream gamers. Fans of Nidhogg praised the game’s tight controls, high-speed fights, and the competitive tug-of-war nature of the game’s back-and-forth design, as well as the game’s minimalist art style.
For reference, this is what Nidhogg looks like:
…which is why some folks were confused when gameplay footage from the upcoming sequel Nidhogg 2 started to hit the internet, looking like this:
So, Mark Essen, Creative Director & Co-Founder of Nidhogg developer Messhof Studios, took to the PlayStation Blog to explain the game’s new art direction. In the post, Essen explains that the original game’s initial minimalist style (which he describes none-too-lovingly as “chunky, featureless pixels”) was born more from a need for practicality in development than from a unique artistic vision. With Nidhogg being as fast-paced and precise as it was, there was a need for simplicity in the animation stage of development, so that tweaks could be made quickly and easily to small moves or aspects of gameplay as they were needed. As Essen explains, “adding any sort of detail, like a piece of armor or a mask, means hours upon hours spent redoing animations again and again,” which the small independent studio frankly didn’t have.
Essen goes on to clarify that, while many praised the original Nidhogg‘s graphical simplicity, Essen saw it as “constraining” and “limited”. So, in the upcoming sequel, the push has been in the exact opposite direction, or, as he puts it: “instead of minimalism, why not try out some maximalism?” Nidhogg 2 will feature animated character faces, customizable outfits and hairstyles, and colorful environments, leaving this highly-anticipated sequel with an all-new aesthetic that very few could have seen coming.
Nidhogg 2 launches August 15th, with pre-orders beginning July 18th.