Fives year after the initial release of Bethesda’s latest iteration in the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim has been heralded as one of the great RPGs of our time, earning over 200 game of the year awards and gaining critical acclaim from critics and fans of the series alike. Now, that fantastical, gritty experience has come to a portable system, adding to the overall convenience and accessibility of this epic fantasy. While this version of the game lacks the ‘mod’ support and stays largely familiar to its original roots, this game provides more than enough depth and content for Switch owners looking for their next time-consuming adventure.
Skyrim follows the life of a Dragonborn, whose destiny it is to slay an overworldly dragon known for being a signal of the end times. The story itself covers fairly simplistic territory at the surface level, but the additional side quests and hidden temples and dungeons really breathe life into the expansiveness of this world. Many games of this particular style and genre struggle to provide such rich lores and backstories, so exploring the world of Skyrim felt more like an enjoyable journey of exploration and understanding of the world and their cultures rather than a grind to get from one objective to the next. There were times where the story wouldn’t push boundaries, for instance with the concluding battle against the mighty dragon Alduin, but there were other times where this story was extraordinarily different for its context. Whether you’d be infiltrating a friendly party or searching for treasures in caverns, there was a plentitude of exciting moments to keep you immersed and absorbed. This leads onto the length of the main quest itself: an approximately 20 hour story, boasting intensity, expansiveness and general fun, slaying skeletons, trolls, bandits and many more. Although the main quest could have been a longer investment, it isn’t as necessary since the side quests will have you venture onward for a while. There’s tons of content here, and that’s not even mentioning the DLC content added.
The combat, as you’d probably expect for a five year old game, is a little choppy and convoluted at times. They emphasise the basics right from the start, from unsheathing swords and slashing enemies to changing perspectives, but it still feels too messy and unnecessary. A simpler control scheme to change weapons almost instantaneously would have benefited the game, for example swapping out a two-handed weapon for a healing spell in a time of aid. You’ll become accustomed to switching out items quite regularly, but an improvement in this area would have made it even more accessible and convienient for handheld gamers. Obviously, at the time this was quite a revolutionary leap for such open-world experiences, but now it feels slightly sloppy and unresponsive in certain parts.
In terms of difficulty, Skyrim is particularly interesting, for its enemies are matched to the strength of the player. That meant you were equally fighting against characters of a similar skill level and made it so much more player friendly for those not wanting to have to load every few minutes because of dying time and time again. It warranted replay value, to correct the errors you made originally and try to progress. That’s not to say that Skyrim doesn’t hand you some difficult challenges, though. The battle against Tsun is familiar, as are many of the Dwemer ruins, but that only added to the complexity and overall unpredictability. Sometimes you’d get annoyed, but after a few more attempts you’d get the eureka moment and move on. Skyrim provides enough difficulty to provide a challenge, but not too much to make it inaccessible.
On the Nintendo Switch, Skyrim performs exceedingly well. It might not have the silky smooth 60 frames per second, and there a few noticeable differences to the other versions of the game in terms of aliasing and textures, but it is essentially the special edition, enhanced specifically for the system. In handheld mode, Skyrim runs at a solid 720p resolution with a locked 30 frames per second. The overall look of the game was slightly washed out, with some rock and grass textures appearing somewhat rough around the edges, but it was perfectly playable and enjoyable nonetheless. Also, the Switch version wasn’t without its glitches and occasonal bugs – similarly to the other versions – that made for some humorous encounters. The added amiibo support, HD rumble and motion controls utilise the functons of the joycon relatively well and once again prove that this has been enhanced to perform to the Switch’s capabilities. Considering the fact that you can now play a game as large, expansive and rich as Skyrim on what is essentially a tablet is truly astonishing and shows just how far mobile chips have come recently.
In conclusion, Skyrim is another fantastic addition to the Switch’s ever expanding library of games and caters to those looking for a meatier, more Western RPG experience. It’s a good time for newcomers to engage in Tamriel, now with the ability to play it at home or portably. While it rarely changes the ground it once laid, and the framerate and textures aren’t as finetuned as other versions, this is a must-buy for those in need of a time-consuming game. It’s absolutely filled to the brim with content and offers everything from the base game plus the DLC content, which makes this so appealing for a first time explorer. This is a timeless classic, once again celebrated and heralded for its achievement in open-world game development.
REVIEW SCORE – Excellent
Skyrim for Nintendo Switch : 9 out of 10