Dark Souls is easily one of my most played games. Sinking countless hours into the game and doing numerous playthroughs where I experiment with different builds (or just try dumb mods on PC) was my jam. Naturally, when I had heard that Dark Souls was making its way to the Nintendo Switch in the form of Dark Souls Remastered, I couldn’t help but be filled with joy. Taking one of my favourite games on the go? Why wouldn’t I be excited? Unfortunately, especially when compared to the other available versions of Dark Souls Remastered, the experience doesn’t really stack up on Nintendo’s hybrid console (which greatly saddens me).
Given that this was previously reviewed by us, this short review will only cover the performance aspects and how the experience translates to the Switch. If you would like to read our review of Dark Souls Remastered, click here.
Let me get this straight before I go on, if you have not ever played Dark Souls in any form before, DSR on the Switch would be perfectly fine. You aren’t accustomed to how it has handled, especially with the responsiveness and accuracy of conventional controllers, so therefore you have nothing to compare it to. If you do fall under that category, then I suggest heading over to the main review of Dark Souls Remastered.
I went into DSR on the Switch very favourably. The Switch version of the game was pretty much my most anticipated version. While I really loved being able to play the game at a beautiful 60fps on PC without any caveats (as well as playing it on PS4 at that same framerate), the Switch version was the only version that would have given me a really unique experience that would be worth the technical costs. However, it became very apparent that I really should have tempered my expectations as the hardware and peripheral didn’t make for a compelling experience. We’ll start how it handles with Nintendo’s peripherals. When playing through DSR there were two things that made it a bit annoying. Firstly, Nintendo’s button placements mean for a confusing UI. Where I’d normally see a prompt for A there would be prompts for B, which also meant I made a lot of incorrect commands purely because the buttons with the exact same icons are in different places.
Now the main difference between the Switch version and the other console versions is with the technical performance and the visuals. DSR on Switch features a set of visuals that are more or less identical to that of the original game, so the lighting hasn’t been touched up, neither have the particle effects, however it doesn’t have all the rendering issues that the original game had. It makes sense that to cater to considerably weaker hardware and its technical limitations that you have to scale back some luxuries that more powerful platforms may be fortunate enough to have, however DSR’s sacrifices don’t seem to be enough as the game still cannot run stably on the Switch. Whilst it isn’t as bad as the original was with the Xbox 360 and PS3, the framerate still leaves plenty to be desired. It didn’t take long for me to see that the game had a tendency to stutter its frames and that didn’t fill me with confidence that it would be very stable across the entirety of the game (spoiler: it was not).
Don’t forget to *click* switch to the right weapon
It was also no surprise to see that the game’s terrible netcode translated perfectly onto Nintendo’s platform, with it not really being any worse but invaders were just as annoying as ever with the game’s bizarre hit detection. However, being a summon wasn’t a half-bad experience as the hit detection is much better for PVE than it is for PVP.
The audio also sounded very compressed when compared to the other version of the game, and when in portable mode it was really noticeable. I would attribute some of the audio issues to the lackluster set of speakers that the Switch has, but even then when it was docked and the audio was going through my headphones it still sounded compressed. It’s a real shame that the actual quality of the audio seems to have been downgraded as Dark Souls has some excellent sound design (a trait which FromSoftware have maintained over the course of the Soulsborne games).
Dark Souls Remastered was a genuinely disappointing experience on the Switch for me. From the less precise and borderline clunky peripherals to the stuttery framerate and lower audiovisual quality, I really wouldn’t say the Switch version is worth the caveats that come with it. If you have either the PS4 or Xbox One (or even a PC), I’d recommend just going for those version(s). They’ll offer a much nicer experience.
Reviewed on Switch | Review code supplied by publisher