I spent a decent amount of time playing through Dragon Star Varnir on the Nintendo Switch over the last few days. This title is a JRPG part of Compile Heart’s and Idea Factory’s Galapagos RPG series, including Omega Quintet and Death end Re;Quest. The latter is a great game that got a Switch port earlier this year yet had its fair share of performance issues.
Due to my experiences with the Switch ports for games like Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force, Megadimension Neptunia VII, and Death end Re;Quest. I wasn’t sure if the Dragon Star Varnir port would fix my critiques from the aforementioned ones, especially because there wasn’t a huge gap in-between the Switch releases of Death end Re;Quest and Dragon Star Varnir, which was about 5 to 6 months for Japan and 3 to 4 months for the West.
Before I answer whether or not Dragon Star Varnir is an improvement in terms of performance, I want to give my abridged impression of the game itself as, like with Death end Re;Quest, it’s the first time I have played it.
I have enjoyed my time with it, especially in the story, which makes the game stand out from the usual light-hearted Compile Heart fare. In addition, the game’s art style looks great with character designs by various artists, including Tsunako and Kei Nanameda. I also enjoyed the soundtrack done by Motoi Sakuraba, who composed music for the Tales series, among other notable titles.
The gameplay itself is also decent, with ambitious ideas such as the mid-air combat system. However, it also gives you many mechanics to keep track of, such as the madness meter that affects the ending you earn alongside making sure that you feed the little sisters’ dragon meat or dragon blood so that they don’t go insane. On top of that, you need to devour your enemies to get various skill trees for your characters to learn skills. If you want all the characters to learn these skills, you need to devour normal enemies multiple times, which can be annoying. I recommend you check out our review of the title’s initial PlayStation 4 launch for a more detailed overview.
Regarding the Switch port, the visuals still take a huge hit, especially with character models, much like the previous ports that came before it. However, there are a few positives to note. One of which is that the game is uncensored, much like the PC version, and it also includes all of the free and paid DLC which the prior Galapagos RPG Switch ports have also had. I also noticed that the framerate is slightly more consistent, which is a constant issue I faced when experiencing the prior ports. This was surprising yet delightful to see given the short gap between this port and Death end Re;Quest.
However, the port still has performance issues while aiming for 30FPS; this can frequently dip in the lower 20s or mid-10s when exploring various locations and dungeons, especially when rotating the camera around. There are also framerate dips that occur during combat at certain moments. This happens in both handheld and docked mode. It does feel like a bit more care, and attention went into this factor, but Compile Heart or whoever develops the ports for them needs to fix the framerate issues, especially during exploration.
Well, it seems like the fourth time is somewhat the charm in this scenario. Dragon Star Varnir is an enjoyable game, and the Switch port is a moderate improvement from the previous ports. However, it still does contain some of the previous ports’ issues that keep it from being a smooth experience on the handheld console hybrid.
This could result from the developers not having much time to work on the ports since they often release within 5 to 6 months from each other. But, it seems like Compile Heart and Idea Factory are willing to work more on their Switch ports based on the improvements present here. But, for now, we must await the next Compile Heart Switch port to see if its quality measures up or surpasses this one.
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