Developer Beamdog has built up a lot of hype over the last few months with anticipation for the release of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition on the Nintendo Switch. Questions circulated about how well the old game would transition over to the small console and how it would feel without a mouse. Thankfully, players can invest their time and money into this game with the confidence that the port is outstanding and could even be considered a superior experience to the old PC version thanks to how the developer has treated the absence of a mouse.
There is little need to discuss the story here. These games are classics in every sense of the word. Instead, we need to examine the big questions that have been plaguing expectant fans since the port was first announced. How does the old game run on the Switch? How well has the native point-and-click design translated to console controls? In a game full of reading, how accessible is the text?
Fueled By A Feeling Of Deep Nostalgia
Unsurprisingly, jumping into the world feels right at home. The graphics are dated and clearly a relic of twenty years past, but one is reminded almost immediately how deep and complex the game is from the very beginning. Creating a character is a meaningful process, and the broad range of customization to the old Dungeons & Dragons classes and subclasses, distribution of ability scores, and weapon proficiencies truly make a character yours.
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition includes The Black Pits, Siege of Dragonspear, Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn, Throne of Bhaal, and The Black Pits II, meaning there is no shortage of content to experience. Broadly speaking, players can expect to easily spend 50 hours completing the main campaigns with some extras, while completionists will easily clock in around 80 hours, and this is to say nothing of playing again with a completely different class and more complex, punishing levels of difficulty.
Various Levels Of Difficulty Give Everyone A Chance To Play
Years ago, Baldur’s Gate was not known for holding the hands of its players, and the same is true today. There is simply a wealth of information within the game to learn, and half the fun is learning as you go. However, this can sometimes lead to catastrophic doom for a party, all because one may not have been prepared. Some creatures cannot be injured with normal weapons, but demand magic to be taken down. Don’t have a magic user? Well, that’s too bad.
The various levels of difficulty mean that there is something for everyone. Playing on Story or Easy mode ensures that no characters will die in combat. It does not get simpler than that, but first-time players may appreciate that sort of protection considering how easily characters can die in even the most mundane sounding encounters.
For those the seek a greater challenge, they will find it on the higher levels of difficulty. This reviewer forgot how quickly members of a party can be killed with even the simplest of errors, but that also makes the game feel far more impactful by knowing that at any moment, the entire party might be wiped out. The image below is taken moments from death, when less than an hour into playing I forgot that it is unwise to be rude to a Wizard, who promptly murdered my party and I. Oh, the memories are all coming back.
Adjustable Font Is Great For Handheld Or Docked Mode
Playing in handheld mode at first felt acceptable, but then docking the Switch for use on the television became problematic simply because the abundance of text was now too small to read. However, a quick visit to the Graphics setting allows for all the font in the game to be increased in size, which made playing the game much easier.
This is a simple solution to a problem I did not know would exist until I began playing on the Switch. The original PC game would have required players to be up close to their monitors, and the original size of the font was adequate there. By maximizing the font in the port through the options menu, playing in either handheld or docked mode feels great.
A Point-And-Click Game Without A Mouse
The conversion to a platform without a mouse was by far the biggest concern leading up to the release of the game, and everyone can rest easy now knowing that the solution used for the Switch is not only elegant, it feels even better than playing on the PC. Using the left analog stick moves a party around the screen, and it also snaps a cursor around to any interactable object in a room in the direction one moves.
By simply walking towards a door, it will become highlighted for interaction and the party will walk through automatically if selected. The same applies to NPCs that you need to speak with. Full control over a cursor is also available if one desires, but doing so made the gameplay slow down to a crawl. As a result, the way that the developer handled the issue of not having a mouse makes gameplay feel faster, more consistent, and overall a pleasure to use.
As a result, the game works incredibly well in portable mode, which is one of the major reasons that some may consider buying the game. Unlike some other games that are ported to the Switch, players who have never experienced Baldur’s Gate should consider trying out this version over one on a PC.
A Wonderful Surprise That Lived Up To The Hype
Any of the above-mentioned points could have ruined the reception of this game had they not been treated with care. However, Beamdog has done a fantastic job with this port. The old classic feels right at home with the Nintendo Switch and would be a welcome addition to any player’s library.