Baldur's Gate & Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Editions (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 27.11.2019 2

Review for Baldur

The hype for the newly announced Baldur's Gate III is ratcheting up thanks to Larian Studios recently releasing a teaser trailer for the new entry in the beloved franchise. It's been a long time coming and fans are pumped. What better time to provide the public with a new port of the old classics? Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Editions includes previously released Baldur's Gate content wrapped up in a neat bundle for the Nintendo Switch. It's a match made in heaven, really... so here are the ins and outs of what makes the pairing of an old classic and an innovative new console so appealing.

Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Editions is totally faithful to the originals. It's so easy to put a foot wrong when porting a point-and-click RPG to a console - analog sticks are a poor substitute for a trusty mouse, so a solid workaround has to be found. Thankfully, developer Beamdog, who is responsible for the port, has done just that: items that are interactable in the game world are highlighted in green when in their proximity, making it easy to find objects and items without needing to wave a pointer over them all the time. It's not perfectly on par with the ease of a keyboard and mouse, but it's as good as console pointing-and-clicking can be.

Screenshot for Baldur's Gate & Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Editions on Nintendo Switch

This collection includes The Black Pits and 2016's Siege of Dragonspear expansions for Baldur's Gate, as well as the expansions for Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, namely The Black Pits II and Throne of Bhaal. For those unfamiliar with Baldur's Gate's conception, it is set within Dungeons & Dragons' Forgotten Realms campaign and uses the Advanced D&D ruleset. Once you've crafted your character from a substantial list of classes and rolled a set of virtual dice to determine your ability points, it's time to hit the road and assemble your party.

The controls are complicated and multi-layered, as is to be expected from a now ancient gaming experience. Fitting a keyboard's worth of shortcuts onto a controller is no easy task, but it's safe to say that this does it superbly by using only a few radial menus and smart assignment of the D-pad. There are basically two control schemes at play that can be changed with the press of a button: one allows you to control a cursor with an analogue stick, which is understandably slow going. The other, however, lets you move individual party members, or the whole party if selected, around the screen with the stick. This works best for exploration, while the aforementioned cursor scheme is best for tactical control during combat. It's a lot to swallow initially, but after the tutorial and a little time tinkering around in-game, it clicks into place.

Screenshot for Baldur's Gate & Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Editions on Nintendo Switch

This collection is beautifully optimised for the Nintendo Switch. The fact that a 20-year-old game has been made to play like a dream on a modern console is a massive achievement. In both docked and handheld mode it puts on an admirable show, arguably making these Enhanced Editions the ideal way to play for newcomers to the series.

Speaking of newcomers, there's no sugar coating the fact that the Baldur's Gate games are tough to get into for the first time. Those who enjoy Dungeons & Dragons will have a significantly easier time of it given that Baldur's Gate and its sequel are modelled upon the classic tabletop role-playing game. Everything about Dungeons & Dragons, from the lore to the party assembly to the dice-role philosophy, is at play throughout.

Screenshot for Baldur's Gate & Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Editions on Nintendo Switch

As such, it has a much slower pace than most modern RPG's, requiring patience and resolve to get into. Newcomers may find it tricky to appreciate, and understandably - these titles are on the far end of gaming's timeline. The most obvious exhibit that demonstrates this is the lines and lines of expositional dialogue that take the place of cutscenes. It's a counterpoint to the in-your-face action of modern RPGs and an experience that has all but died out, so it's definitely not for everyone. It plays like a virtual game of D&D, sans Dungeon Master - it's text heavy, slow-going and demands a painstakingly methodical approach to combat encounters.

Still, Baldur's Gate is timeless in many ways. Once the dust is swept from its surface and you get a glimpse of the masterful storytelling, breathtaking world-building and solid systems beneath the hood, it makes a compelling case for why it's lauded as an RPG great to this day. The Enhanced Editions is a fantastic experience for long-time fans eager for a fresh play-through, as well as younger RPG players who are interested in learning about the series that essentially birthed RPGs. It's difficult to go wrong here. The only foot Beamdog could have put out of place was in the port itself, but even here the developer has integrated it exquisitely into the Nintendo Switch system.

Screenshot for Baldur's Gate & Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Editions on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II shine beautifully on the Nintendo Switch thanks to some excellent optimisation on the console and a brilliant control scheme. It can seem convoluted initially, but this is nevertheless inspired stuff from Beamdog, who has pioneered a new way of playing isometric RPGs with a gamepad. Everything about the Enhanced Editions is slickly presented, even if the games themselves show their age in their outdated mechanics. Still, this is worth playing for the RPG fanatic and provides a stellar history lesson on the forefather of modern role-playing games.

Developer

Beamdog

Publisher

IdeaSpark Labs Inc.

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Hell yeah, I've been dying to play Baldur's Gate. I have such fond memories of watching my dad play the second one growing it, it's great to see that the Enhanced Editions get the job done and well, at that.

Renan said:
Hell yeah, I've been dying to play Baldur's Gate. I have such fond memories of watching my dad play the second one growing it, it's great to see that the Enhanced Editions get the job done and well, at that.

Nice! It's definitely an experience steeped in nostalgia for many a gamer, even for those who haven't played it (like myself before this review). It's great to see its resurgence through these remasters though, and through Larian's upcoming sequel - I'm sure they'll do it justice!

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