Dark Souls: Remastered review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: FromSoftware
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1-6
Online: Yes

Here’s Dark Souls on the Nintendo Switch! That’s right it’s finally here! And if you’ve been living under a rock not having played it yet then you’re in for a treat, since this classic game has finally found a home on all major platforms. Most of us have played at least a little bit of this series, but the originator has finally been put on the current home of red-hot ports with the Switch, so we checked it out to see if it checks out.

So for the most part, the answer is yes, it’s a really good port! And of course it’s on the go now, so if you’re like me and had to stop playing because of life obligations, then worry no more. Now you can get your ass handed to you at the kids soccer games, or a boring dinner party, and even on the hike all your middle-aged friends keep saying is good for the heart. Well scoot over real life because Dark Souls is finally on tap in all corners of the real world.

If you haven’t played Dark Souls, it’s an action RPG where you’ll be running around the terrifying world or Lordran, killing off enemies while collecting souls they drop. You will use these souls to level up and buy things, so they’re twice as valuable in serving as both currency and experience points. Thank god real life isn’t like this, or else we’d be killing each other just for money!

What makes the game challenging is a combination of combat that requires a lot of attention so that you’re not getting ripped apart or ganged up on by enemies. Even a lowly hollowed out peon can easily gut you if you let your guard down, and combat strategy becomes a huge part of getting through the game world. This would be frustrating in itself but the game also causes you to lose all your souls when you die! But don’t worry as you can get them back once you’re resurrected, only if you die before you reach them then the souls are gone forever and you’re banging your head against the wall because you didn’t check all corners of a room to find a cleverly hidden enemy waiting to stab you in the back! SO it’s a game of well-crafted risk and reward that becomes very addictive and will have you hooked on overcoming every challenge placed in your way.

In terms of a port, this is the Remastered version, which means it has all the little updates and fixes we’ve seen put in on top of the original game. Visuals are clean and the game handles well, no surprises here. It’s Dark Souls on the go, so if that’s something you want then you’ll pretty much be happy.

Well except for one really annoying exception. And that’s the fact that for some stupid reason, the confirm and back buttons in-game are backwards from the Switch native setup and they don’t give you an option to change this. This means that A is cancel and B is confirm, and at the time of writing this is a setting that can’t be changed in the game’s control scheme even though some button assignments can be changed. So maybe I’m too damn old to adapt, but for the first hour of playing this game I kept dying because I meant to dodge or cancel out of a menu and found myself getting ripped apart instead. Many hours in and I’m still mixed up!

This is a total oversight and sucks since you’ll have to consciously change your habits on how you play the game and navigate menus, just for this one title. And anyone who’s played these games knows how unforgiving they are to the smallest mistakes. So in the long run it just means you have to basically commit to only playing Dark Souls through to completion since working back and forth between this and basically any other game on the Switch is going to cause you total mental agony!

I can only hope this changes at some point in the future but since we can’t account for that I do consider a serious flaw against an otherwise great port of the game. Maybe you think I’m exaggerating but for all the hard work that went into this port this small detail really does becomes a major inconvenience. It’s possible this could be patched in the future but with no guarantees of that you’ll want to double-check before diving in. But if you only bought a Switch for this Dark Souls port then it probably won’t bother you as much.

It’s also worth noting that some have found audio to be an issue in that it sounds really compressed or broken, but I didn’t find this to be the case for me. Maybe my hearing isn’t as good as everyone else’s though, but I did play with both headphones and docked on my TV without ever noticing this. Maybe you will? Either way it sounds like a problem for some people and might be worth researching whether it’s patched in the future.

But besides all that the game is here in its entirety and feels good to play both with Joy-cons and especially the Switch Pro Controller. Framerate seemed mostly consistent with a few dips that didn’t affect my experience, so the performance is pretty successful. Some new functionality includes gesturing with motion controls and the use of amiibos. Both of these are nice to have, but of all the tweaks and any custom Switch additions I still can’t believe the menu buttons are like they are. Otherwise the base game was the real prize and for better or worse is here as promised.

Honestly the game here is exactly what you’d expect. It’s portable Dark Souls and runs great. You can still get online and play with people or troll them in their games, and all the DLC is included. My big gripe about the A and B menu buttons being backward means that my experience with the game was a lot less enjoyable than it should have been, and at this point I’ve seen enough to know the game was ported fine but that I won’t be playing it any more until hopefully they patch the controls to be remapped across the board. It’s just that there is enough menu navigation that it’s important to have some kind of consistency on the platform a game is ported to. This may not bother some people but for me it’s enough to just say I’ll play it on one of the other platforms if I really need my fix. Otherwise the novelty and convenience of being able to take this classic game on the go is well worth the purchase and I’d be happily singing its praises.

Bandai Namco provided us with a Dark Souls: Remastered Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B-