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Dark Souls: Remastered
Game Reviews

Dark Souls: Remastered

A faithful remaster of the notoriously difficult original, only portable and with annoying sound issues.

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Let’s port everything to the Switch! No, really, let’s. It’s a pretty great little machine and it’s well-suited for all kinds of games. The same couldn’t be said about the Wii or the Wii U, but it seems like Nintendo’s found some magic with its little hybrid. In any case, yeah, let’s get all the ports going on here. Maybe we should start with Dark Souls. In fact, here, have Dark Souls: Remastered on the Switch, assuming that bringing instant and frequent death with you is something you want.

Dark Souls on Switch is, well…it’s Dark Souls. There was already a version released a few months back that attempted to clean up FromSoftware’s hella-hard dungeon kill-o-thon that first terrorized fans back in 2011, but platforms like the PlayStation and Xbox are used to games like this. It’s a rare thing to see a game like Dark Souls on the Switch, which makes the idea of being able to traverse one of the gaming’s most notoriously difficult games while on the move all the more interesting.

What can be said about Dark Souls that hasn’t already been said? It’s an action-RPG that’s known for being fairly difficult. You create a character, level them up and gear them as you wish, then do your best to survive against some imposing odds. Victory is as much about learning what’s coming and how to address it as it is about levels and stats. Since this is the modern games industry and this game was fairly popular, there’s no shortage of me-too clones that have aped the formula on offer here; so chances are you know what you’re getting into.

But this time it’s on the Switch! That means it’s portable! To be fair, that’s actually not too bad; Dark Souls is certainly playable in handheld mode and, naturally, works just fine when docked. In terms of graphics and performance there’s not much to complain about. As a game that originated in the PS3/Xbox 360 era don’t expect the visuals to blow you away – a Remaster can only get you so far – but you’ll most likely come away impressed while dying for the umpteenth time.

Unfortunately, it’s with the audio design where the Switch version suffers. Frankly, it’s pretty awful. If you ever wondered how Dark Souls would sound if all the audio consisted of low-bitrate MP3s downloaded from Kazaa back in the 2000s, this is the version for you. Presumably this was done to conserve precious data on the poor, starving Switch, but it’s enough of a loss that it hurts the experience. This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced poor sound output on Nintendo’s console, so this might be a challenge for developers in the future.

As with every previous version of Dark Souls, you can play the Switch version online. Unlike those versions, you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to make use of that functionality; this represents one of the first “big” games to hit the service since that became a requirement for online play. It works about as well as any other version, with summons and invasions behaving as expected and occurring with typical frequency. It doesn’t change much, if anything, from the original in that regard. If you can’t imagine playing Dark Souls without someone showing up to shank you just as you’re starting to feel confident, don’t worry, the Switch version has you covered.

Really, I’m not sure why you’d need a portable version of the original Dark Souls in the first place, but it’s here with Dark Souls: Remastered if you truly need it. It even works well enough! On the other hand, if you’ve played this game on any of its other platforms before, you’ve experienced a better take on it; the sound issues alone are nearly as painful as the constant deaths you’ll experience. Those new to the series who don’t have other options and don’t mind muting the game could do worse than having a mobile version of Dark Souuls, but it’s not a great option for anyone outside of that demographic.