The Nintendo Switch has been out for just over 18 months now, and in that time Nintendo’s hybrid console has had some amazing releases. From console exclusives, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey, to cross-released titles, like Hollow Knight or Stardew Valley, to even some fantastic ports that you would never think possible, like Doom. Since Doom’s successful transition to the Switch, there have been countless discussions, lists and the such all asking what other games could we see ported over. Doom and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim both prove that even with the limited hardware the Switch has compared to the PS4 or Xbox one, big AAA games can and do work well on the Switch. There is one game that had been brought up a lot amongst the various discussions, a game that is heralded as one of the greatest of all time, Dark Souls Remastered, and now FromSoftware’s Magnum Opus is on the Switch.
Dark Souls was released back in 2011. I really do not need to go into detail about the story, setting or anything of the such here. Even if you haven’t played Dark Souls (and you need to have a really good excuse as to why!), its popularity means you will have at least some idea about what is going on. What I will say for those who haven’t played Dark Souls before or those who have played it but gave up after an hour or so, forget everything you have heard about the difficulty. Is it a hard game? Yes, of course it is, but it is also a fair game. Any enemy in Lordran is more than capable of ending your journey as and when they see fit. Playing Dark Souls is all about learning. Learning how enemies operate, learning the land, and also learning from your mistakes. It is a game that when you begin to learn how to play as the game intends for you to, well, there is nothing available that is quite as rewarding, really. All of this would be a waste of time though if the Switch port was awful, right? Like WWE 2K18 awful, but, thankfully, it is not. Virtuos have done an incredible job porting over the Remastered version of Dark Souls that it should be held up as one of the best games available on Nintendo’s system.
There are some obvious scale-backs here compared to the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the remaster. Some of the graphics overhauls, such as lighting and other smaller changes featured in the other remaster, do not feature in the Switch version. This version does, however, support 1080p while docked and 720p while handheld, which is nothing to turn your nose up to! The PS4 and Xbox One versions also both feature a constant 60fps, whereas the Switch sits at 30fps. This is by no means awful, and unless you have played the Xbox One or PS4 versions, playing the Switch port does not feel anything short of incredible. As this is the remastered version of Dark Souls, one of the most hated bugs has been fixed with regards to framerate. No longer will you try and navigate Blighttown while staggering with something stupid like 10fps. There is not one framerate dip in any part of Lordran, even when taking on some of the huge bosses, like Seath the Scaleless or Ornstein and Smough, and that goes for playing in handheld too. While playing handheld, if you have played the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the remaster, then thanks to the smaller screen on the Switch, you will not notice the graphics overhauls that have been left out here.
The latter is really the big game changer here for Dark Soul veterans, the option of playing on the go. It’s a strange thing, really. Dark Souls is quite a full on game where I will always sit down for hours on end to play rather than playing in short little bursts, but really, Dark Souls can be a great quick pick up and play game. Whether you’re farming for souls or humanity, or just getting from one bonfire to the next one, Dark Souls offers you the chance to play during a half hour commute and feel like you have achieved something. It is something that a game like Stardew Valley offers, short play time with a decent reward at the end. Another great reason to play handheld is that it allows you to do something you could never do before while playing Dark Souls, and that is pause the game. Now, you still can’t just press the menu button to pause the game, doing that will still get you killed, but you can utilize the Switch’s sleep button. So, if you’re in the middle of an intense battle and a train guard asks for your ticket, simply putting the Switch to sleep will actually pause the game! It’s the little things in life, huh? I’m sure some die-hard Souls fans will scoff at anyone taking advantage of this, but they’ll be the ones with full bladders while fighting the Capra Demon. Also, even playing with the JoyCons’ slightly smaller than usual buttons doesn’t cause any issues here, and you’ll happily parry your way through Dark Souls without wishing for a DualShock controller.
Bundled in with the remaster is the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, which, if you haven’t played before, requires a bit more than just simply selecting it on the main menu. Also available for the Switch version is amiibo support in the form of the fantastic Solaire of Astora model. The only benefit you do get with using this is that you unlock the Praise the Sun gesture from the start of the game, but you know, that is pretty cool, and you get a decent looking model of a Warrior of Sunlight. All the online features are available to enjoy on the Switch too, so you can engage in some jolly cooperation.
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 19th October 2018