Gothic Classic for Nintendo Switch is a portable port of the iconic, but very old game. We checked whether it is still playable after over 20 years.
Without a doubt Gothic is one of the most iconic games in Poland, at least among PC gamers. There are probably not many places in the world where the adventures of the Nameless One would be so popular. Such a credit of trust probably obliges us not to release a port of the game on our market that would turn out to be nothing more than preying on sentiment. And what is it like in reality?
Gothic Classic, or a return to the distant past
The original Gothic was released over 20 years ago, in 2001, and in the gaming industry, two decades is an eternity. With even greater interest, I checked the product called Gothic Classic, i.e. another attempt to tell the same story, using the same tools, and on a console that is associated primarily as a portable device. What I mean here is the Nintendo Switch.
Let’s start with this and get it over with: Gothic Classic is actually the same game as on computers, just 20 years later. The fact that this is a direct port of the original transferred basically 1:1 is visible on Switch from the first minutes of the game. The graphics, which were not outstanding even at the time of release, are now simply eye-catching. To such an extent that only a few people who are not fans of the original will be able to get through it.
Bring it, take it out, sweep it up
The same applies to the first impressions of the outdated gameplay model. The controls here are very rough, and the characters, obviously including the main character, move like wooden blocks, and not very well carved at that. The combination of outdated graphics and non-intuitive controls will in itself constitute an insurmountable barrier for many people.
In addition, let’s not forget that Gothic is based mainly on very simple mechanics, which, although they once captivated many Polish players, today represent a level that even a low-end game would be ashamed of. Simply waving a saber and running from point A to point B may be a good complement to an otherwise complex gameplay model such as Minecraft, but in the long run (and not in the short run either) it cannot be the axis of the gameplay of a modern RPG game.
Controls from hell
The control model is very outdated and is not saved by the mechanisms that were introduced to Classic with console players in mind. What I mean here is the automatic targeting of enemies, which has been designed in such a way that it is more of a hindrance than a help in the game. There are moments when the camera is forced to stick to one random target, and it is very difficult for us to quickly change it in line with what is currently happening on the screen. This targeting system leads to situations in which we lose to the opponent not because we lack skills, but because of extremely incorrectly implemented mechanics.
The same goes for using the spell casting system, which leads to so many bizarre and frustrating situations that sometimes you feel like throwing your console out the window. Switching to Joy-Con controls (motion controllers from Nintendo Switch – editor’s note) does not help, because in practice the relatively modern controls have nothing to do with such an outdated game, which makes the whole thing as clumsy as in the case of a regular character control model.
Ultimately, Gothic on console plays really badly, despite the player’s sincere intentions. And this probably shouldn’t be the case with a modern re-release of a game from years ago, even if it is very old. Every intermediate player realizes that if there was no lack of willingness and a relatively small budget for additional work, something could be done. In its current form, it is simply unplayable.
Only for fans
Of course, the plot of the game has also remained unchanged in Gothic Classic and this is probably the only good news for fans of the original. In this respect, nothing needed to be done to be able to release the game again in 2023. The story presented in this game is timeless, the characters have their own motivations that are easy to identify with, and the individual events that take place over the hours have a real impact on the background of the presented world.
Delving into the plot again, I think I finally understood why the original Gothic was once able to captivate crowds and gain such a reputation in our country. Despite the problems and the fact that the gameplay itself is dominated by outdated mechanics, on consoles it is still a well-told story. And Poles, due to their history – an exceptionally romantic nation, have a weakness for such stories.
The only question is whether the sentiment for the Nameless One’s past adventures should be the only reason to pay for the same thing again, only 20 years later and on Nintendo Switch? True fans can probably close one eye and try to experience it again, but potentially new players should remember what I wrote earlier: today it is really impossible to play it comfortably anymore.