There’s no question that the Switch is a relatively underpowered console, especially when compared with the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and modern PCs. That hasn’t stopped a number of developers from bringing ambitious titles to Nintendo’s platform. Large-scale 3D games, like Skyrim and Doom, have found a welcome home. But not all of these modern Switch ports have been as smooth. Ark: Survival Evolved and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night both took noticeable dives in playability in the transition.
The latest challenger to the Switch’s hardware specs is Divinity: Original Sin 2. Originally released in 2017, it’s acclaimed as one of the best western-style RPGs ever made, with its stellar writing, voice acting, and tactical combat. But it was also praised a gorgeous game with fully 3D environments and a detailed physics engine. So how does it all hold up on Switch?
The Switch port of Divinity: Original Sin 2 doesn’t work miracles. The drop in visual quality, especially if you’ve seen the original version, is noticeable right from the character select screen. Characters are muddier and less detailed than they are on higher-powered machines and aren’t likely to win any beauty contests in general.
Despite this, characters are still readily identifiable, even in handheld mode, which makes picking them out amidst combat quite easy. And the environments actually make it through pretty unscathed, with tons of detail in the various dungeons and shops you’ll be exploring. Again, it’s all at a lower resolution than the original versions, but the static nature of the environments means that the muddiness of the character models experience is less noticeable.
The payoff to the drop in resolution comes with the game’s surprisingly smooth performance on Switch. The game runs at a steady framerate, with only occasional hitches during auto-saving. Load times are incredibly speedy and, several hours in, I haven’t run into any crashing issues. Given that the entire game can take over 100 hours to finish, it’ll be quite some time before I’m able to fully test every portion, but what I have played is encouraging.
That length is well known to people who have played Original Sin 2 on other platforms. If you happen to already own the game on Steam, the Switch version actually allows for cross-save across both platforms. The process is smooth, simply requiring your Steam login credentials. Once it’s all set up, you should be able to bounce back and forth between the two versions, with your save file automatically updating whenever you quit a given platform. Because of the enormous time investment required to complete the game, it’s incredibly helpful to be able to make progress while you wait for a bus, rather than wait until you return to your gaming PC.
There are surprisingly few western-style RPGs on the Switch, and even fewer with the pedigree of Divinity: Original Sin 2. The fact that Larian Studios managed to bring this massive game onto the Switch in the first place is a feat, but the fact that it’s entirely playable (despite some visual degradation) is even more impressive. If you’re looking to sink some serious time into a fantasy world filled with lizard men and skeleton-riding squirrels, you won’t go wrong here.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 was released Sept. 5 on Nintendo Switch. It is also available on Windows PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The game was reviewed using a final “retail” Switch download code provided by Larian Studios. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.