Pokémon Legends: Arceus Review
A refreshing new adventure
The scenery, diverse landscapes, and wilderness make the Hisui region a world players can immerse themselves in. From the moment I started the game, I got hooked instantly. Imagine yourself being a Pokémon trainer who fight alongside your Pokémon and wander the world. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is truly a refreshing take on the long-running franchise. And I’m going to share with you this amazing adventure.
Screenshots in this post were captured from Pokémon Legends: Arceus on Nintendo Switch.
I loved the Pokémon games. I was excited when the new generation Pokémon Sword/Shield released on Switch a few years back, but I was very disappointed how it turned out. It has improved visual, sure, but most part of the gameplay remained the same formula. We’ve seen it before many times, and I felt underwhelmed by the lack of creativity.
It might sound odd, but when Pokémon Legends: Arceus was announced, I had doubts about its gameplay. So, I waited for more than 8 months and finally decided to get my hands on it when I stumbled upon it at a local store.
Game Freak attempts to create a modern Pokémon game for their fans and newcomers. This is a reimagining of what a Pokémon should look like by introducing new features, mechanics, and play styles. While on the other hand, the core concept stay true to its prior titles. Despite its flaws, I felt like I could set my mind free and experience a sense of relaxation while playing it. I’ve enjoyed my time. I can tell you that this might be the best Pokémon game that everyone is waiting for.
It has been a while that I’ve got myself so invested in a Pokémon game that much since Pokémon Gold/Silver. I remember I played the game almost everyday when I got back home after school. Those were the days. Anyways, here’s my review of the game.
Story & Characters
Pokémon Legends: Arceus takes place in the Hisui region, a time where people live peacefully and keep themselves away from wild creatures. Their relationship with Pokémon hasn’t quite developed yet. Arceus, a being, transported the player there via a spacetime rift. This time around, the world was set in an ancient period without advanced technologies. That alone makes me like the world setting even more.
Our main character fell from the sky and was later found by Professor Laventon, a Pokémon researcher who brought the player to the nearby Jubilife Village. Eventually, you joined the Galaxy Expedition Team and learnt that some Noble Pokémon had gone frenzied. As a recruit of the Survey Corps, the player was tasked with studying Pokémon, to complete the Pokédex, and investigating the spacetime rift and the cause of unusual behaviors in Pokémon. Then our journey begins.
Aside from the people from Survey Crops, there are some locals around called the Diamond Clan and the Pearl Clan. Adaman or Irida are the leaders of their clans, and they have completely opposite personalities. For the most part, they have more screen time than others. And for characters or NPCs other than them, they’re not very memorable. I don’t quite recall their names except the merchant Volo.
A scar in the sky, wild Pokémon causing havoc, and our protagonist assisting the people of the Hisui region in cooperating. As an outsider, the player has to earn the trust of locals by helping out with requests from villagers and the Galaxy Team. From the storytelling perspective, I’d say it’s very mediocre.
It seems to me that the story aspect was the weakest part of the game. The game lacks cutscenes and voice acting, which makes it very bland. Both are the most critical issues I had, and I personally think Game Freak should take notes and implement those features in their next installment. They have no excuse because even Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age on the Switch has voice over. I also want to mention that the cutscenes absolutely rocks in Monster Hunter Stories 2.
Open World & UI
At first glance, you can tell the game clearly took inspiration from Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Hisui region is a semi-open world consisting of five areas with different themes for the player to explore. The player can return to Jubilife Village at any time and fast travel back. A Base Camp will be set up when you arrives in a new area where you can rest, craft items, report your Pokémon findings, manage your team, and so on. There will be multiple Base Camps available when a related quest is completed.
I’ve read people talking about the performance issue, and the world looks empty. From my 40+ hours of playthorugh, I didn’t notice any game crashes but only some frame rate drops here and there. And the drawing distance was terrible, with objects and textures popping in and out. But that doesn’t bother me from playing the game. I'd say it performed well enough for me. I like the landscapes, the weather system, and some of the views are stunning. Personally, I think people are being a bit too harsh about the graphics. Pixels were all you could see on the GameBoy Color back in the day, but millions of people still enjoyed it.
But for a semi-open world, it does feel a bit empty. There aren’t enough inhabitants, and the Pokémon were being planted in different spots while walking around and not really doing anything. I hope the development team can make them more location specific where wild Pokémon can interact with their surroundings and the environment.
In the Hisui region, some iconic Pokémon has distinct looks. My favourite are Hisuian Growlithe, Lilligant and Goodra. They definitely deserves their place in my team.
The game’s UI appears to be very minimalistic. The screen has more free space; it only shows the most essential controls. Switching Pokémon and swapping items feels very natural and smooth, while on the other hand, the player can reach the Map, Satchel, and Pokédex easily where they’re mapped to a button. Overall, I’m satisfied with how it turned out.
I’d like to specifically mention the Pokédex’s user interface. It was designed in booklet format. I like how small details are being added.
In the game, new gameplay and mechanisms have been added. Player can capture a wild Pokémon by throwing a Poké Ball at it without engaging in battle. What makes this interesting is that you can sneak into tall grass, throw items at Pokémon to distract them, and catch them undetected. This allows the player to have more freedom over how they approach being a Pokémon trainer.
The game was designed in a way to encourage players to catch Pokémon and complete the Pokédex. When you return to the village, you have to report the findings to the professor to earn money and level up your rank in the Survey Corps. They’ll then reward you with a new recipe for Poké Balls, and high-level Pokémon will also obey you.
I like the new mechanics and which makes this game stand out from previous mainline titles. Nothing innovative here, but it’s refreshing to see it breaks the formula. And I hope they can make a sequel base on this game.
Exploration plays a very important part of the game. The player is allowed to roam the world by riding different mounts as the story progresses. What I don’t understand is the fact that our character always having a hard time walking up slopes or some small hills. There’re plenty of materials scattered across the map for players to gather, which they can use to craft Poké Balls or healing items.
The ability of galloping across grassland or various landscapes is something Xenoblade 3 should have had. In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, player can ride on Wyrdeer or Ursaluna on flat land; Basculegion for crossing waters; Sneasler for scaling mountains and slopes; and Hisuian Braviary to fly.
The game also introduced a feature called Lost & Found. You can retrieve lost items from other players during your adventure and return those dropped satchels to gain Merit Points. Then the player can use Merit Points to trade for rare items in Jubilife Village, which can be used to evolve certain Pokémon.
Quests and Side Activities
There are over a hundred side quests waiting players to complete them. But most of them are fetch quests, such as fetching items or capturing a specific Pokémon. I’d say they’re too bland and repetitive at times. I hope Game Freak can increase the overall quality of each side quest. Such as adding cutscenes and voice acting.
Players can also change their outfits and wear accessories. You can buy new clothes and even change your hairstyle in town. Aside from purchasing stuff from merchants, there’re NPCs available for taking photos with your Pokémon, farming, managing pastures, crafting items, learning moves, challenging trainers, etc.
There’re plenty of things to do in the game; I’m afraid I’ve only covered the more critical content. It’s better for you to discover them yourself.
Moveset & Effort Levels
If anyone would ask what I like most in a Pokémon game, it would be assembling my own team the way that I want. You can build your team by catching Pokémon, evolving them, and arranging their movesets. Which offer the player so much freedom to pick which Pokémon to use without restriction. The only problem is capturing them.
Another new feature is the ability to change moves at any time, as long as the Pokémon has acquired them. A Pokémon can only have four moves at a time, but this time around, old moveset will not be forgotten. And now, players can teach their Pokémon new moves or swap back to old ones as often as they want.
By the look of it, Pokémon is a game for kids, and that’s what most people would think. However, Pokémon games have a very complicated mechanic called the IV and EV system. And on top of that, there’re Pokémon breeding and egg groups. I’m very glad that Pokémon Legends: Arceus has simplified the system into Effort Levels. It can range between 0 and 10 for each stat. Players can enjoy the game without worrying about min-max or stats. The Effort Level of a Pokémon can be raised by using different Grit items, which can be obtained by engaging in battles, capturing/releasing Pokémon, or completing side quests.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a rock-solid turn-based RPG. The interactions and encounters with wild Pokémon become different than in recent Pokémon games. The core battle system was inherited from previous games, but with some new changes. The player is allowed to command a Pokémon to change attack styles: Agile Style and Strong Style when the move is mastered. It provides a more strategic sense when in battle.
Pokémon have gone berserk as a result of the spacetime rift, and a natural phenomenon known as Spacetime Distortion may occur during your adventure. Some wild Pokémon become enraged and develop red eyes; at higher levels, they are known as Alpha Pokémon. Players can challenge them for experience and items, and you can even capture them. They are mini-bosses who keep your journey interesting.
When players stumble upon a wild Alpha Pokémon, they’ll charge at you if they detect your presence. Your controllable character can dodge the attack cast by them in the wild. As the story progresses, you will face Noble Pokémon and fight them with the same mechanic. IT’s a bit like you're playing an action game.
When engaging in battles, some of the UI can be hidden, such as Action Order and Move Info. The screen has more room to view the battle without displaying them. In my opinion, it’s so much better than in Pokémon Sword/Shield. It feels more clean, which suits the art style very well.
I’m more than satisfied with the overall experience. They created a compelling world that drew me in. When I finished the main storyline, I felt like I wanted more of the story. I wish they had a bigger map for each area and more Pokémon to catch.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus keeps me entertained all the way. This could be the best Pokémon game ever made. Meanwhile, I'm still debating whether to get the new shiny Pokémon Scarlet/Violet. Well, I’d rather play this game one more time.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
- Time Played
- 40+ hours
- Game Freak
- Release Date
- Jan 2022
This is #Day84 of #100DaysToOffload.
- I bought the game at a relatively low price of around $38. It was a steal, wasn’t it? ↩︎