Switch port of 2019 horror game has an important eShop disclaimer - it runs at 24 FPS

·2-min read
 The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan on Switch
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan on Switch

The Switch port of The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan is out now, with one bizarre caveat: it only runs at 24 FPS.

Today's launch was a surprise, especially considering that the original game launched on PS4, Xbox One, and PC way back in 2019. The narrative-first horror game, and like other recent titles from developer Supermassive, puts a big emphasis on its photorealistic cast. Given the limitations of the Switch hardware, it would be fair to expect some compromises.

But I don't think anyone could have expected to see a disclaimer warning that "the Nintendo Switch version runs at 24 FPS" right there on the eShop page (as noted by Wario64). It is admittedly buried way down at the bottom of the store page alongside the copyright information and photosensitivity warnings, but it is at least visible on the console store, too.

It's not unusual to see Switch games running at 30 FPS and frequently dipping below that target, but it is unusual - in fact, it's unheard of, at least as far as my hearing goes - to see a game on any platform actively targeting 24 FPS. And while I haven't played this port myself, that frame rate sounds like a bad time.

Most modern TVs display 60 images per second, so games tend to target either 30 FPS or 60 FPS, because in either case there's a nice, even supply of frames to the TV to run. A 30 FPS game would show each one of its frames exactly twice, for example. If a game deviates from that target, one frame might be shown three times, and another frame four times, leading to what video nerds refer to as 'judder.'

A single instance of judder is effectively imperceptible, but sustained judder over the course of several seconds, or longer, leads to a game feeling jerky and inconsistent to play. A 24 FPS game has no way to escape this issue. Movies, which are obviously filmed at 24 FPS, are largely able to look fine on modern TVs thanks to the concealing effects of motion blur, but I've yet to see a game that can manage the same.

In defense of the developers, they did put out a trailer for the Switch version that pretty clearly shows the compromises of this port, so if you want an idea of what you're getting into, give it a watch. For me, well, I'm still holding out for that Nintendo Switch Pro.

Heck, you might be able to find a few 60 FPS oases among the best Switch games.