Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen Nintendo Switch Review

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Gransys On The Go

If you’d have said a few years ago, during the height of Nintendo’s Wii U experiment, that a future Nintendo system would become the home to some massive RPG’s you may well have been called madder than a box of badgers. But, here we are – it’s 2019 and the Nintendo Switch has already seen its fair share of games in the genre, from original fare like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, to remarkable albeit pared back conversions of games such as Skyrim and Dark Souls. It’s to this latter list that we can now add Capcom’s cult favourite, Dragon’s Dogma, a game that challenged the Playstation 3 and XBox 360 on original release but finally found a competent home in 2017 with a HD remaster for Playstation 4 and XBox One.

In fact, I’ll direct you to the review I wrote for that version because, fundamentally, you’re really getting nothing new here. Don’t like clicking links? Here’s the quick rundown. Dragon’s Dogma is a western style fantasy RPG set in the world of Gransys, in which the player takes on the role of The Arisen, one prophesized to rid the land of a marauding dragon. It’s got missions to take, a chunky combat system, AI companions called pawns which you can loan out to other players via an asynchronous online mechanic, and a big old map to explore. It’s also a game I’ve played previously on PS3 and XBox 360, systems which struggled under the weight of the engine and realistically the closest to Switch spec wise. So the big question here is, how well does DD run on Nintendo’s little hybrid console and should you double or triple dip?

Surprisingly the answer to that first question is, remarkably well. Capcom have pulled off some damn witchcraft here to get this fairly challenging game running on the Switch hardware. It clocks in at a solid 30fps with barely a stutter and, if there is any kind of resolution switching to keep things smooth it’s not obvious. What is obvious is the reduction in lighting on offer compared to the “big boy” consoles, as well as simpler geometry and texture detail, but the game seems very selective in where this occurs so that the immediate world the player sees is as detailed as possible. What is slightly problematic is the degree of pop-in you’ll find in the game. This is mainly restricted to textures and shadows and is only really apparent in large open spaces, but it sometimes occurs with enemies and NPCs, leading to sudden encounters that you might not have been expecting. It’s not terribly egregious, however, and certainly not game breaking, but it does highlight that Dragon’s Dogma is running on less powerful hardware.

That doesn’t make the game any less playable, though. It’s still a solid and quirky romp with plenty to enjoy. The handheld nature of the Switch only highlights this, allowing for easily extended play sessions in portable mode. Being able to suspend in the middle of a big mission is a godsend with a game this size, and it certainly makes things the most accessible they’ve been on any format. For first time players it’s well worth the fairly budget asking price, giving a bumper package with all DLC included. For previous players, the question comes down to whether you’re willing to invest in what might be a lesser version from a visual standpoint to enjoy the game in a portable format. Personally? I think it’s a no brainer. The Switch doesn’t diminish Dragon’s Dogma in any way and the portability brings it a new dimension that you simply can’t get on other machines.

8

The same old quirky RPG in a brand new portable wrapper, Dragon’s Dogma is as great as it’s ever been. First time players will enjoy exploring the world of Gransys, while seasoned veterans will find a new angle in the easy to pick up Switch format. Well worth the single, double or triple dip.

Writes and produces films at independent outfit Shortorme Productions. Records music under the guise of Stage of History. Gamer since the days of the ZX Spectrum. Always on the lookout for something new and fresh.

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