Dragons Dogma on Switch: the ports solid but the cutbacks are noticeable
Spearheaded by Devil May Cry director Hideaki Itsuno, Dragon's Dogma is often overlooked in the list of last-gen's best RPGs. Inspired by western goliaths like Skyrim, Capcom challenged itself to create its own fantasy epic, powered by its own proprietary technology. PC and current-gen console ports followed, culminating in the arrival of this fascinating Switch conversion.
Developed over the course of three years, Dragon's Dogma runs on MT Framework - common to most of Capcom's last-gen titles. Using the limited resources of PS3 and Xbox 360 at the time, the team made a rare push for a fully open world design. Ultimately though, while the mechanics hang together well enough, the frame-rate struggled on those machines. Pop-in was an issue and texture quality wasn't the best, possibly limited by the 512MB of RAM common to both last-gen PlayStation and Xbox platforms.
The good news is that the Switch version has more in common with the current-gen remasters than it does with the original release. Docking the machine with a TV shows a marked upgrade in several respects. The last-gen highlights remain - crepuscular rays and dynamic shadows looked good then and they still do now. Light flits beautifully between trees, cast from grey skies blanketing the game's opening scenes. Meanwhile, character shadows are a real feature of undergrounds dungeons and night battles - torchlight creates sharp, directional shadows, much in the same way Dark Souls 2's characters cast silhouettes on around bonfires. It gives light a great sense of impact to these scenes, where lanterns are often crucial to making progress.