It is hard to believe that when Dark Souls released seven years ago, it only did so on two consoles, the PS3 and the Xbox 360. It went on to become the worldwide phenomenon we know today which has spawned numerous inspirations and knockoffs of challenging games. It has since then been released on just about every platform available, and with the most recent release, it did two things it never did before. Release on a Nintendo console, and go fully mobile.
But how does the Nintendo Switch version stack up to the other iterations that came before it? Well, to be perfectly honest, good, but not great. My review of Dark Souls: Remastered will focus more on the technical aspects, rather than the game, lore and story itself since that has already been discussed at length and it’s already been established that it is fantastic, and that alone is worth the effort. The basic premise of the game is that you are the Chosen Undead at the end of the age of fire. You set out on a journey to link the primordial flame in order to fulfil the prophecy. It is a very minimalist plot, and most of the story and lore is discovered through the world that you explore and the interesting characters that you meet that don’t try to kill you. It is known as one of the hardest games of moderns times, but once you get used to how it works and the mechanics of it, you will be rewarded with something truly special that will stay with you for a very long time.
From Software did a very good job of giving Dark Souls a new breath of life on the other current generation consoles. Both the PS4 and Xbox One versions run at a silky smooth 60 fps and at a rock-solid 1080p. If you’re lucky enough to own the PS4 Pro or an Xbox One X, you get the visuals cranked up to an upscaled 4K resolution. On top of that, From Software spent a lot of time adding in new textures and volumetric lighting, which made the bonfires looks much nicer and gave the game a bit more of a modern feel. You can essentially say that Dark Souls: Remastered borrowed some makeup from its younger sibling, Dark Souls III.
I found it a little bit disappointing that it didn’t receive any of the visual upgrades such as lighting and textures as was afforded to the PS4 and Xbox One versions.
The Switch port is a little bit different in that it is essentially a copy of the game from the previous generation consoles such as the PS3 and Xbox 360. The biggest difference is that also runs at a 1080p, and maintains a very solid framerate when in Docked Mode. I did notice a few framerate dips when going into some of the darker and more visually taxing areas such as The Depths or Blight Town, but for the most part, it held up well enough. Playing the game in Handheld mode is also a solid enough experience, with little to no performance issues while it runs at 720p. While the Switch version performs well enough, I found it a little bit disappointing that it didn’t receive any of the visual upgrades such as lighting and textures as was afforded to the PS4 and Xbox One versions. With that said though, the game still holds up surprisingly well considering it is seven years old, and hardware and graphics have come a long way already. It might not be the best looking version of the game, but it is the only version that allows you to take it on the road.
A few things to get used to
Speaking of playing the game on the road. Dark Souls: Remastered on the Nintendo Switch plays well enough in handheld mode, only it felt like it made an already challenging game a bit harder. The game still suffers from a horrible camera with a weird mind of its own, and on a smaller screen that you’re holding in your hand, it became a lot harder to judge the timing of a dodge or a parry. It took a little bit of getting used to, but eventually, it started to click and it became a tad easier. Taking on bosses though is a serious challenge in handheld mode and should be left for when you’re at home and can dock the console.
Dark Souls: Remastered on the Nintendo Switch plays well enough in handheld mode, only it felt like it made an already challenging game a bit harder.
Something I found quite enjoyable was the online play. I had this sense of new people trying it out, with some people summoning you to help, and still exploring every nook and cranny to see what they might be missing. I also saw this when an invader tried to troll me with a very well known and obvious move to get me to chase him into enemies and make life harder for me. I was patient enough and he ended up coming back to my “safe zone” to his own demise. While this was fun and interesting to me, it was cool seeing new people experiencing a Souls game, something I haven’t seen in some time.
With that though it brought in a different issue that I found a bit strange and frustrating. The game is a direct port from the PlayStation or Xbox platforms with very little changes, aside from an option to include the Solaire Amiibo in your gameplay. This means that the button layout is exactly the same as the competing consoles, which we all know, is different from the Nintendo standard. B is select and A is back, which most consoles and platform use, but if you’re used to the way Nintendo does it, it can get become a tad bit frustrating when it comes to inventory management in the game. It is a minor gripe I have, but enough that it bothered in the beginning stages of my playthrough.
Not perfect, but definitely worth it
Dark Souls: Remastered for the Nintendo Switch is not the perfect version of the game, but it still holds up. It is a definite improvement of the previous generation version that it was ported from, and the ability to go Praise the Sun while out and about is an added bonus. Aside from the slight laziness when it comes to porting the controls over, and the added challenge to it when playing it in handheld mode, it still looks and plays exactly like it always has and always will. I also feel that From Software could’ve put in a bit more effort with some of the textures or lighting like the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game saw, even if it was a bit more limited.
These minor issues shouldn’t discourage you though, It still looks good and plays well, and if this is your first foray into the Souls universe, then you will be in for one helluva ride. What makes Dark Souls so special is the sense of achievement and community that comes with it. It is a really challenging game, but if you embrace it, you will find others around you going through the same trials and tribulations as you, and when you do succeed, whether you do it alone or with the help of others, you come out the other end feeling like a true champion. Praise the Sun!