I was in middle school when Baldur’s Gate released, and I spent two summers of my youth adventuring along the Sword Coast in Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II. When Neverwinter Nights was announced, I remember downloading the trailer to my dad’s computer and watching it on loop. When it released, it was everything that I thought it would be and much more. So, when Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition was announced by Beamdog – former BioWare staff who still actually care about their pedigree – I was very excited. Afterall: the Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II enhanced editions had been quite well translated.
What we eventually received in the way of an “Enhanced” edition of Neverwinter Nights simply isn’t exciting. On PC it’s pretty much a playable version of the original game that’s coded for modern displays and features a few post-processing effects. On Android, it’s basically Neverwinter Nights on your phone with touch controls. On Nintendo Switch, Skybound Games has, unfortunately, created a garbage port that’s quite miserable to play.
That’s right, I said it. I’m even willing to double down on it: Neverwinter Nights “Enhanced” Edition on Nintendo Switch is a cheap cash-in on a beloved title that simply shouldn’t exist as it currently does. It’s a mess. Allow me to explain…
First, Neverwinter Nights “Enhanced” – you know what? Rather than continue to passive-aggressively place Enhanced in quotes, I’ll just redact it to better reflect what the consumer is getting when they waste money on this title.
First, Neverwinter Nights… Edition on Nintendo Switch doesn’t run well. Trudging through the re-designed tutorial section of the game will cause numerous slowdowns. Simply moving the camera around your character will cause a terribly choppy experience. Shadows and other lighting effects pop in and out very noticeably and the draw distance, once you get outside, is very poor. The in-game text is nauseating to read – an issue that also presented itself on Android in my experience, though it doesn’t seem to be an issue on PC. Look: I’m absolutely judging this port harshly. This game originally launched in 2002 and the Switch should be able to competently run this moderately “enhanced” experience. The fact that the experience is so poor – in my limited capacity to judge – can only be attributed to laziness or incompetent porting.
Second, Neverwinter Nights… Edition controls like steaming hot trash if you’re forced to use a controller – and you are forced to on the Switch. This game was made for mouse and keyboard. Touchscreen controls on the Android experience were fine. But the controls on the Switch – and I assume other systems – just feel terrible. Not only are the buttons unintuitive but a few aren’t even used! There are certainly better things that you could be doing with your time than fumbling through the janky menus… why not utilize all available buttons in a controller scheme? This is simply unacceptable given how well Baldur’s Gate & Baldur’s Gate II control – two other games ported by Skybound Games for Beamdog! Sure, walking around the world is fine enough… but then you try to target an enemy and everything falls apart. I spent five minutes absolutely stunned trying to target an “enemy” during the ranged weapon tutorial. I’m not exaggerating. I spent five minutes of my life that I will never get back staring at the screen wondering what I had missed.
The inventory and merchant screens are the worst… navigating tabs is bad enough, but selecting, moving, and placing an item within your inventory is worse than having a tooth pulled. You can only move items one space either direction at a time and it takes tens of seconds to move an item from one side of your inventory to the next. Don’t even try swapping an item… Oh, and the cursors from the PC version are still present. Occasionally, it will wig-out and fly to the middle of the screen and then go back to what you were trying to select. The highlighted items within menus aren’t highlighted enough and, mark my words, you will find yourself selecting things that you did not intend to select. Seriously: it is a chore to experience Neverwinter Nights… Edition using a controller.
Third, it’s the Switch. So, I’m sure – like every other Switch port – the audio is inferior to any other version. To be fair, I cannot notice a difference… but since every other aspect of Neverwinter Nights… Edition on this platform is inferior, I’m going to say that the audio must be as well. Sue me.
Fourth, multiplayer… well… it seems to work. However, since merely playing Neverwinter Nights… Edition is such a chore offline, I cannot for the life of me imagine that it’s any better simply because some other poor soul is suffering alongside you.
Alright. I believe that I got most of what I needed to get out of my system. Now for the good…
Neverwinter Nights… Edition has potential. It’s 2019. Games can launch absolutely broken but receive a few patches and contend for Game of the Year. Will this be the case with Neverwinter Nights… Edition? No. Never. Not going to happen. Not as described anyway. Skybound Games could fix every one of these issues with a patch. Perhaps patches. Take, for example, Pillars of Eternity on Switch… wait. Hell, I just checked Versus Evil’s Discord server for Switch bug reports and people are still not able to play Pillars of Eternity on Switch. Sorry, everyone. Guess that was a bad example. Despite being an utterly miserable experience at the time of this review, there is always potential that Neverwinter Nights… Edition can truly become Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition and take its seat next to other BioWare/Beamdog greats like Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II, Planescape: Torment, and Icewind Dale. Unfortunately, until it is patched, there is simply no reason to buy this title right now. There are far too many other great titles to play this winter, especially if you are looking to grind out RPGs on your Nintendo Switch – many great RPGs have recently dropped and the number of hours you could spend enjoying those far more optimized titles is staggering. Give Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition a pass for now.