The competitive sword-clanger Nidhogg hit Steam yesterday. You should probably play it, and not just because it’s a fun party game to play drunkenly at indie game parties where Doseone shows up because the rap world has rejected him. Talking to Venus Patrol, its creator Messhof, who’s been laboring on it for years, said that this is a serious fighter, despite it only having two buttons.
The goal was for the game to be taken seriously as a fighting game, so I didn’t want too many people to play it until I had everything really worked out. Showing it off at events like EVO and XOXO gave me a good idea of where the game stood, but the more serious players demand a lot.
Nidhogg is all about the slow game — getting your opponent to make the first move. There have been a few games like this, and probably even more that I haven’t played — the best example is Bushido Blade, but I find the controls pretty clunky. I’ve spent a lot of time on the “game feel.”
The takeaway here is that complex games can have simple controls. Depth of experience and complexity of button-presses aren’t the same thing. This is an idea we’ve heard repeated from other developers that are part of the new wave of independent, ultra-simple fighting games, for instance Divekick, a strategic fighter in which there’s only one move, the much maligned divekick. Two rows of attack buttons and monster combos aren’t always necessary was the sentiment of that game’s creator when I spoke to him last summer. And speaking as someone who’d love to learn to get into Marvel vs. Capcom but who lacks the time and patience, the gesture is welcome.