If there’s one thing that fascinates me about the Nintendo Switch, is seeing what game is produced next that makes you wonder in awe at how on earth the developers have managed to get it running on Nintendo’s hybrid device. Last year, it was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Of course it’s graphical fidelity couldn’t possibly match those of the Playstation or Xbox, but you’d be a fool to expect that anyway. However, what we did have was still detailed, beautiful and quite frankly, exciting and all within the palms of our hands. This year, it has to be long-awaited release of Dark Souls Remastered and after a lengthy delay, it’s finally here and most importantly, we have another game that lives up to expectation.
Developed by FromSoftware and published through Bandai Namco, this is a title that is synonymous throughout gaming circles with its crushing difficulty. It became a lot like marmite, you either love it or you hate it and many games since its conception have tried to follow on from its formula. Whatever you think of it, it can’t be argued that this is a game that needs to be played patiently, learning from mistakes and gaining the knowledge needed to defeat it and in those terms, is where the excitement of this title is borne from. Whether you’ve played the game before, or are new to its gruelling style of play, then I can tell you now, that this remaster is most definitely worth a look, or a revisit to the land of Lordran, as on the Switch, it feels like a completely new experience.
An important thing to remember here, is that this is a remaster and not a remake. What you are essentially getting is the complete game in all its originality. However, even on the Switch, this version looks infinitely better than it did when it first saw light on the Playstation 3; that in itself is an achievement that warrants a playthrough. The game revolves around a central character, created by you from a variety of combat classes. You then find yourself imprisoned within the cells of the Undead Asylum, before you begin to explore a labyrinth of corridors, spills of blood and a series of messages that introduce you to the dark world of Lordron. It’s not long before you find yourself equipped with weaponry and knowledge, the two most important assets within Dark Souls’ world.
The exploration of everything around you soon becomes an important asset as you play, as before you know it, you’re faced with a seemingly impenetrable foe of colossal proportions. Its sheer presence was enough to make me freeze on the spot, before succumbing to its heavy attacks and rising again to prepare myself for my next encounter with its demonic form. Gathering the information you need, such as attack moves and defensive abilities prepares you for such encounters, although at the same time, it also rarely does. Despite this, learning everything you can will eventually help you in the long run. Another important element here, are the bonfires that lie around the ruins of the land. By igniting their flame, you essentially create a spawn point should you die.
Again, these are vital, as the game will punish you for your ignorance. Enemy encounters are brutal, but also rewarding. You’ll find yourself at times wondering how on earth you can fight, yet alone defeat, some of the enemies faced in front of you and yes, you will die, a lot, but it’s here where you must also learn. Whatever foe you face, they have weaknesses, whether it be in attacks or movement, they all have an opening that you can take advantage of and its through the learning of these techniques where glory is borne. This is essentially where the fun from Dark Souls comes from, as with each successful victory, the feeling of elation you get as a player is one that many games cannot match. Be patient, be prepared to learn and this is a game that will reward you like no other.
In terms of technicalities, this remaster has been given a whole host of graphical overhauls and performance boosters. Even in handheld mode, this is a game that is glorious to look at; a premise made even more satisfying by the smoothness of its frame-rate. Yes obviously it’s 720p and 30fps, but considering the restrictions of the Switch, this is a beautiful experience in more ways than one. It even has amiibo support and a new Solaire of Astora character that offers you abilities from the go and if that’s not enough, this Switch version also incorporates all of the online functionalities of messaging, PvP and co-operative gameplay.
In short, this is another game on the Switch that simply makes you wonder how on earth you can be playing it in a handheld capacity. Yes, it is gruelling, but then it’s simply meant to be. You will only get your rewards if you’re willing to put effort into it, and as a gamer, presents you with a wonderful opportunity to prove to yourself how good you really are. The most important thing here, is don’t be put off by it, otherwise you really are going to miss out. Even more so on the Nintendo Switch. Of course it doesn’t match up the remasters on other consoles, but then again, what you do have is a significantly superior version from its first release and for that alone, makes this a very worthwhile experience. That’s not to say that it’s not without its problems, but none of them are technical issues, but more cosmetic than anything else. Menus can be a bit cumbersome, or the reversal of the button functions can take some getting used too, but when taken in the whole context of things, these are only minor gripes. All in all, Dark Souls Remastered is a wondrous game on the Switch and well worth the wait we’ve all had to endure and for that, makes this a game that is worth praising the sun for.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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