Neverwinter Nights the first video game I played where the choices I made actually had an impact on the story. As someone who absolutely loved the Choose Your Own Adventure series when I was growing up this style of storytelling played into that enjoyment. Much the same as with the books, I felt compelled to see the outcome of every possible choice combination. Obviously I was incredibly excited when I found out the Enhanced Edition was coming out and doubly so when it was later updated and ported to the Switch as well. While the game itself holds up really well the switch port has some issues in the UI which made playing far more frustrating than it should have been. This is our Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition review.
One thing I do love about the Enhanced Edition is all of the core game content is included along with the two expansions, Shadows of the Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark. All of the stories are there exactly as it was before and I could choose to start from the beginning or start at either of the expansions. Even though this story is almost 18 years old at this point, it’s still very well done and worth experiencing. Although there are voice-overs throughout the game they are limited to key characters and conversations. Other characters often have a couple of lines recorded but most have no lines. All of it works really well though so this should only be an issue for people who prefer everything to be voiced.
Creating a character is fairly easy especially for anyone who has played D&D or any of the thousands of games that have been created based on D&D mechanics. Neverwinter Nights, in particular, is based on the 3.0/3.5 edition rules and classes. One of the major things to be aware of is in addition to base classes there are Prestige Classes available. Although a player could stick with one base class, i.e. Barbarian, for the entire game or branch out into one of the various Prestige Classes available. All Prestige Classes have prerequisites that have to be met before they can be taken, and none can be chosen at first level. So it’s a good idea to take some time to read over the classes and prestige classes before choosing because all of your choices, including what feats you select and how you allocate ability points, will affect what you can do with your character. This is only a small part of character creation though, nearly every aspect of your character can be customized.
If all of that sounds overwhelming there are also a ton of premade characters that can be chosen from. The premade characters cover a wide variety of options without the time required to go through all the options yourself. However, if you just want a starting place and still want to customize the character you select there is that option as well. Pretty much no matter how you prefer to make a character they have you covered. Of course, the options for how your character looks are limited, we just didn’t have the robust options which exist today back in 2002.
There is a Prelude to the main story of NWN, however, this can be skipped even on your first playthrough by using the mirror in the room where you spawn. I’d recommend against using this if you are playing on one of the console versions as you’ll miss explanations of how a lot of the UI works specifically on the console, which is often not particularly intuitive. In particular, the ability wheel is important to utilize on the console because the quick action bar doesn’t exist. Pretty much anything you might want to use in combat needs to be on that bar or else you won’t be able to use them. This includes drinking any potions or using heal kits. All of these things can be figured out without the short Prelude but it’ll likely take more time than just doing the beginning yourself.
One optimization for the console I really liked is the ability to move around using the left stick rather than having to click to move. The option to click to move is still there if I wanted to use it, but honestly, it was far more frustrating to use. I just don’t have the precision with the stick I’m used to having with a mouse so getting the cursor to exactly where I wanted to click wasn’t easy. For the most part, moving around with the stick was easy, though occasionally I’d accidentally hit the button to go into cursor mode and the game wouldn’t switch back. In these cases, I’d have to restart the game to get things working correctly again. This only happened a handful of times, but it was extremely annoying when it did.
By far the most annoying aspect of the switch port is the fact they didn’t incorporate the use of the touchscreen into using menus and into the UI itself. This means rather than clicking buttons and selecting the windows I wanted to interact with I had to use the left stick to move things or the right/left bumpers to cycle through things. For example, to sell an item I first had to move through my inventory square by square to first select the item. Then I had to use the right or left bumpers to select the merchant frame and then click into it to sell. That would be annoying enough on its own, but it wouldn’t switch directly from my inventory to the merchant window, I’d have to cycle through everything in between. It’s just needlessly annoying.
Originally I thought maybe the reason for this is they just did the ports for Switch, PS4, and Xbox the same way. However, the touchscreen was used anytime I have to type in anything. Which don’t get me wrong, is great, but it made it even more frustrating when I could enter the name for my save file with my finger but then couldn’t just click the save button. Obviously the option to use the touchscreen wouldn’t be available in docked mode, but for handheld, it would have made a world of difference. Also, simple things like trying to see what markers on the minimap were extra frustrating because getting the cursor right on the icons was a pain as well.
At the end of the day, Neverwinter Nights is still the great game I remember and I loved going back and playing it again. However, I’d recommend sticking with the PC version of the Enhanced Edition unless you just really have to have it on Switch. It worked well both docked and handheld, though I had to manually change the screen scaling factor every time I switched between the two.
This game was reviewed using a code for the Switch provided by PR.