Pokémon Legends: Arceus Review – Learning Some New Moves

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Catching as many Pokémon as you can, learning about them and training them to be stronger in battle are the foundations of Game Freak’s iconic RPG series, but few titles exemplify these core concepts as powerfully as this latest outing. . Pokémon Legends: Arceus lets you explore a bygone era of the Sinnoh region, then known as Hisui, and gives you more ways than ever to complete your Pokédex. While some elements don’t feel like their final form, I love where this new direction is taking the Pokémon series.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ early hours are packed with expositions and long, dialogue-filled scenes. You learn that most people are afraid of Pokémon, but a new invention – the Poké Ball – hopes to bring people and Pokémon closer than ever before. The start was slow, but when I was finally released into the Hisui region, the gameplay loop subsided within me. With Poké Balls in tow, your primary task is to fill your Pokédex with as many unique species as possible. However, on your way to completing that task, you’ll uncover several mysteries surrounding anomalies happening in the region. Some of the narrative beats and character arcs didn’t sit well with me, but the story is a step up from previous installments in the series, especially later in the game.

It’s exciting to run through vast, open areas in search of new creatures to add to your Pokédex. I love that simply catching a Pokémon doesn’t immediately complete your submission for that monster. Instead, you must complete mini-tasks to earn points for completion; these include seeing them do specific moves, defeating them, and even using certain moves against them. The objectives may be too simple, but I like how the system made me feel like I was actually studying the Pokémon I encountered rather than mindlessly collecting them.

You can choose to sneak up on a wild Pokémon instead of fighting them, which I applaud because it improves the flow of movement through an area. With the game’s streamlined UI, you can easily select whether to throw an empty Poké Ball to catch them, a piece of food to distract them, or a Pokémon of your own to fight them. The wild Pokémon can run if you are spotted, but it can also attack you. You can try to escape and even use dodge rolls to dodge attacks, but your best bet is to throw one of your own Pokémon to take it out. While much of the game was focused on action and exploration, I appreciate how encounters transition you seamlessly from the real-time exploration to an enhanced version of the series’ simple turn-based combat system.

The battle menus also get a streamlined interface, so you can choose whether to send a new Pokémon or throw a Poké Ball without leaving the battle screen. In addition, Pokémon can learn new moves or master their existing ones by leveling up. I like how the control system allows me to be more strategic. You can choose to perform powerful attacks to add some power and accuracy at the expense of speed or agile versions that can give you an extra spin at the expense of strength. Loved watching the enemy’s life bar deplete after a strong attack, knowing my gamble paid off.

Hisui is full of diverse biomes, which play host to a wide variety of Pokémon. These segmented areas all have linear routes leading to destinations and points of interest. But wandering off the beaten path to gather resources to use in the game’s rudimentary crafting system, discovering hidden areas, and finding new creatures to catch were my favorite moments with the game.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Whenever I wanted a break from the main story, I could quickly lose a few hours trying to improve my Pokédex progress on side activities. A day/night cycle further increases the rewards as different monsters emerge at night, giving you a reason to return when the sun goes down. Hisui is packed with rewarding activities, including stronger Alpha Pokémon to battle and capture, side quests that collect resources and specific creatures, and special limited-time events to further round out your Pokédex.

As you progress through the story, you’ll be pitted against a handful of insanely noble Pokémon. Instead of participating in Pokémon battles, you control your trainer for most of the series. You have to throw special balms at the noble Pokémon to empty their health bar while dodging various attacks. At specific points in each encounter, you can use your Pokémon to try and defeat them in battle; if you are successful, stun them and open them up for more embalming throws. These boss fights are tricky at times as the attacks get more intense, but the option to restart failed battles without losing progress takes some of the pain of defeat. These battles are nice twists on the boss battles in the Pokémon universe, but imprecise controls sometimes left me with unnecessary damage.

A prominent criticism of the Pokémon series for a long time has been that its production values ​​do not match the standards set by other triple-A titles. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a wonderful adventure, especially thanks to its colorful art style. While character and Pokémon animations are a step up from previous main items, they’re still woefully behind other games in the genre. Cutscenes provide moments of action, but the screen fades to black when a character has to perform a unique action that requires a new animation, forcing the player to fill in the blanks with their imagination.

Plus, the series’ lack of voice acting hasn’t been a pain point for me so far, but Arceus has several scenes with lots of dialogue. The prominence of these scenes makes the silence feel like an outdated relic of the late ’90s, in addition to the digitized Pokémon catchphrases that linger in this title. Top it all off with mediocre technical performance, full of object pop-in, framerate drops, and low-resolution textures, and Pokémon Legends: Arceus is hardly a technological marvel.

Despite these shortcomings, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a worthwhile spin-off adventure, even if some concepts are not fully developed yet. With an enticing gameplay loop, fun side activities, and a story I’m glad I played to the end, Pokémon Legends: Arceus lays a solid foundation for what I hope is the next evolution for the series.

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