ARK: Survival Evolved (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 18.01.2019

Review for ARK: Survival Evolved on Nintendo Switch

Evolution is a profoundly complex process that takes generations upon generations of minor mutations that result in a superior organism. Once in a while, evolution goes backwards, and some genetics undergo mutations that once belonged to an apex predator like a carnivorous dinosaur, now deep within the fibre of a lowly chicken that eats its own waste. The conversion of Ark: Survival Evolved onto the switch is such a transition that defies all expectations. On one hand it is almost impressive that it exists, yet on the other hand, the poor thing would have been better off extinct long ago, yet humans keep it around for laughs.

Those who dare to venture into the heart of Ark: Survival Evolved will first be met with a formidable barrier. This barrier is the initial loading screen that generates the game's environment, which is comically long. When most people make a joke about how long a load time is, they usually hyperbolically remark "go make a sandwich." Ark's load time is so long that a person actually can go make a sandwich, eat it, and probably even digest it before it is done. It would be easy to assume that this might have crashed because it takes what feels like an eternity starring at the screen, feeling the sweet warm embrace of entropy.

Anyone who manages to live long enough to see past the load time, will then be confronted with an appalling UI, and an extremely low resolution, character generator. At this point, moving the cursor around will be noticeably laggy and sluggish, so any interest in fiddling around with these esoteric metrics and options will be easily lost. Jumping into the game and actually trying to play it is where the nightmare truly begins. Like waking from a nightmare that felt so real only to discover reality is far worse, Ark: Survival Evolved is pure torment... yet slightly interesting.

Screenshot for ARK: Survival Evolved on Nintendo Switch

Survival Evolved is a survival game… naturally. Set in what appears to be a pre-alpha build version of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for the Nintendo 64, these ugly wastelands are festooned with dinosaurs, and rocks that are in a constant state of low level detail loading. The first thing anyone will do when playing the first time is to die a hilarious death while naked. The fifth or sixth time will roll by, and then some people might discover that almost any piece of nature can be looted or broken down into components for crafting. Suddenly Ark becomes much easier as players will likely start running through the hideous environments grabbing anything, and everything at 20 frames per second, while crafting various accoutrements to endure the limbo. Then the nightmare compounds on itself because this is the entire game's cycle.

The idea of constantly being surrounded by resources and dangerous large prehistoric threats is a sound concept. The problem with Ark: Survival Evolved on Switch is that it is a dysfunctional technical disaster. Pterodactyls fly into the ground, Triceratops (which are not real) can chase avatars high up steep hills at full speed, and basically everything just feels like one big glitch. Along with The Missing, this might be one of the most poorly optimised Switch games. There is no real plot or story to give anything context. This begins very abruptly with no goal or rules set in place to guide users. Playing with others online is a fruitless endeavour since nobody is actually playing it. There is a kernel of potential somewhere deep inside, but not without some substantial changes.

Screenshot for ARK: Survival Evolved on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

Is this the worst game on the Switch? It is very close. Ark: Survival Evolved is easily the most poorly converted game on the system, which makes it feel like it could be the worst. If things worked and it didn't look like computer generated vomit, it might have been an average survival game at best. Nothing would distinguish itself. It is unfortunate that the one aspect it has that makes it stand out is just how much of a porting disaster it has proven to be.


Studio Wildcard


Snail Games





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  2/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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