Review: Pokemon Legends: Arceus (Switch)

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At the last Pokémon Presents, two games were announced, they were Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, and Pokémon Legends: Arceus. While I already Reviewed: Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl Versions (Switch), I am excited to say it is time to look at Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

When it was first revealed, Pokémon Legends: Arceus appeared to be an open world Pokémon game taking place in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl’s past. Now that it is here, we can see that is isn’t exactly open world, as the game is segmented into multiple large areas to explore. It takes place in a past version of the Sinnoh region, then called Hisui (which resembles feudal Japan), and the player is tasked with researching the many Pokémon that live there.

Simply catching Pokémon isn’t enough to fill the Pokédex, you have to complete multiple research tasks to get the entry filled. These tasks include things like catching multiple of the same Pokémon, watching it use a certain move, defeating a number of that Pokémon, and so forth. Some tasks contribute more towards completion, and thankfully you don’t have to do them all, only enough tasks to get 10 points is required. The more of these tasks completed, the more you are rewarded with money and ranking points.

ArceusDex

Capturing and battling these Pokémon has received an overhaul, where the player can sneak around and catch Pokémon that are visible on the map without fighting them. Some are timid around people and may flee if you are spotted, but many become aggressive if they see you. If this happens, the player either escapes in real-time, to avoid getting injured by the Pokémon, or sends a Pokémon to fight it in turn based battles. The transition is incredibly quick and smooth, further deepening the player’s immersion into the game’s world.

Battles are fairly familiar, but the new strong style and agile style options for every move can alter the power and speed of all moves, which can lead to scenarios where either Pokémon can get multiple attacks off in a row. The game also shows off the current turn order to help you decide which action to take, a first for the series. In addition, almost all moves are overhauled with slightly different effects, and a large number of moves are removed from the game.

ArceusFight

There are a lot of neat changes and additions in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, such as item crafting, the option to swap any learned move with the actively available moves at any time, and to evolve a Pokémon when you are ready to do so, once the requirements are met.

Incidentally, this game can be a bit harder than most Pokémon games. There are stronger versions of Pokémon called alpha Pokémon that are wandering around off the beaten path that you most likely won’t be ready for the first time you encounter them. Plus there are boss fights against frenzied nobles are mostly action based, where the player dodges somewhat complex attack patterns while throwing balms to calm these creatures down.

While some of these fights were the only times I lost in the main story, there were a number of close matches against tough foes. Late in the game, I was running low on healing items too, making for a scary endgame. Granted, I was rushing through the game quite a bit, so other players might not experience some of the challenges I did. The way you play through this game can greatly alter what kind of experience you have, especially in terms of difficulty.

ArceusNoble

Perhaps the greatest joy in Pokémon Legends: Arceus is getting pleasantly distracted by something new found while exploring. Even repeat visits to familiar areas can lead to new discoveries, especially since you get new Pokémon to ride as you progress, changing how you navigate the world. It is easy to miss some collectibles or Pokémon the first time around, and it can be incredibly satisfying to catch or defeat a tough alpha Pokémon as you wander the game.

Much of this game’s presentation is its strong suit, including more expressive characters, and top notch musical remixes from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The main town in this game even grows more accustomed to Pokémon as you complete side quests.

However, there are some small performance issues that you may or may not notice. Some visuals pop into existence if they are far enough away, especially if your field of vision is unobstructed. Some animations of distant characters have a low frame rate as well, if you look closely enough. Much of the time you’ll be engrossed in the game, and may not notice at all, and it doesn’t take anything away from the gameplay, which doesn’t slow down, surprisingly enough.

All in all, Pokémon Legends Arceus is a fun twist to the familiar Pokémon formula. This game offers a lot to explore and find. You could be playing to do one thing, and easily get pleasantly distracted by another thing you find along the way. While the ending is a bit abrupt, there’s an extensive (yet repetitive) post game you can get lost in the wonder of this new take on the Pokémon world. Pokémon Legends Arceus is well worth a look if you are curious as to what it offers.

Recommendations:

  • Adjust the settings to your liking.
  • Catch, explore, complete research tasks, and finish side quests as you play, especially if you want to keep playing afterwards.
  • Craft often if you want to keep your inventory low.
  • Expand your inventory capacity, but be sure you have plenty of money.
  • Try out stealth, battles, and catch Pokémon often till comfortable with the way you want to play through the game.
  • Be careful of Alphas, but catch and defeat them once you are able to do so.
  • After the game is over, try to complete the Pokédex.

Pros:

  • Good (if janky) graphics.
  • Solid soundtrack.
  • Strong blend of action and turn based encounters.
  • The difficulty level is higher than other Pokémon games (possible pro, based on taste and playstyle).
  • Great exploration.
  • Good shakeup of the Pokémon formula.
  • Nice presentation, including battle transitions.

Cons:

  • Some repetitive tasks.
  • Inventory fills fast.
  • Money might be hard to come by (based on how you play).
  • Occasionally janky animations (might be outweighed by the positive features).
  • No multiplayer battles (possible con, based on why you play Pokémon games, and on personal perspective of new battle mechanics).

Verdict:

8.6/10 A great shake up of a good formula

Pokémon Legends Arceus is a fresh take on the Pokémon games, and falls in the 7-9 range. It is no worse than the worst mainline Pokémon game, and is arguably better than all mainline Pokémon games. Even non fans and some players who lost interest in the past may like this game a lot too. Hopefully, some of the smart alterations found here will persist in the series moving forward. I look forward to seeing how Pokémon changes based on this game, with either there being a similar subseries, or an enhanced main series that takes inspiration from this game.


That was my take on Pokémon Legends Arceus. How did you like this game? What changes should be kept moving forward? Were there any changes that you didn’t like and why? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this review, then click that like button and share on social media. To keep up with That’s All Games, you can subscribe via email or WordPress. Until next time, have fun gaming!

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