After a brief delay, I finally got to play Dark Souls Remastered on the Switch this morning at PAX East. I could only record offscreen gameplay, so I literally had someone hanging over my shoulder as I played in handheld mode. I'm living that Switch life, as it were.
Between running through the opening section and balancing the screen out to avoid glare, I was able to get a reasonably decent look at how Dark Souls Remastered looks in handheld mode on the Switch. And for the most part I was impressed. You can see for yourself how it runs below.
Dark Souls Remastered Switch in handheld mode. Apologies for the angle: we were trying to avoid glare. pic.twitter.com/2n5hRx7rVr— USgamer (@USgamernet) April 6, 2018
As you can see, Dark Souls Remastered manages to maintain a pretty solid 30fps framerate throughout the opening areas. And while doesn't boast 4K like its counterparts on the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, and PC, it still manages to look quite nice. My fight against the very first boss, the Asylum Demon, was not only impeccably smooth, it looked great too.
In that sense, Dark Souls Remastered passes its first major test in handheld mode. It doesn't suffer any appreciable visual downgrade in comparison to its counterpart, and it seems to run fine when it's not docked. This bodes well for Dark Souls' appeal as a portable release.
Of course, that doesn't mean Dark Souls is in the clear. The original Xbox 360 and PS3 releases had some real framerate drops, and the gnarliest areas weren't available in the Switch demo. If Dark Souls Remastered is able to retain a steady framerate through Blighttown, we'll know its for real.
Moreover, Dark Souls isn't necessarily a game you want to experience in handheld mode. Going portable will deprive you of the ability to call in support against bosses, invade other people's games, and read those trollish messages that convince you to kill merchants. It will also deprive you of some of Dark Souls' notably spooky atmosphere, which is hard (though not impossible) to replicate on handheld.
But even if it's not exactly the complete experience, it's nice to know that Dark Souls Remastered is at least on track to be a solid entry on the Switch. After a year with the hardware, it appears that Switch developers are becoming increasingly adept at translating triple-A games to the system. Wolfenstein 2 looked similarly promising when it tried it on Switch yesterday.
I'm sure that there are at least a few Switch owners who are looking forward to trying out From Software's notoriously difficult action RPG. Even those who have long since finished it may find value in playing it on handheld. After all, there's some pride to be taken in finishing Dark Souls without ever calling in another player to help with its often vicious bosses.
In any case, we'll see how Dark Souls Remastered pans out when it launches on all major platforms on May 25. Go here if you're curious to see how it looks on PlayStation 4 Pro.