For clarification, this review is spoiler-free and will not discuss story details from beyond the first few hours but will discuss the core concepts of what makes this game worth your time and money.
2022 is a fresh new year and as we tumble out of 2021 woes, we can do so with a fresh perspective. Nintendo is leading the years new releases with Pokémon Legends Arceus on Nintendo Switch. As any 90’s nerd will tell you, Pokémon as a concept has grown through the years much like its fans, however, Legends strives to reimagine the formula far more than any Pokémon adventure has so far.
For the first time players are free to fully explore a land of open environments that vary in both scale and terrain littered with numerous Pokémon. As a returning player, you may see this as a breath of fresh air, whilst others may see this as more a Breath of the Wild. In all seriousness, this entry has been heavily inspired by open-world titles which may draw comparisons to games like Breath of the Wild. Be that as it may, this isn’t a clone in any form. Legends is a step forward in the Pokémon franchise, featuring multiple features both new and familiar.
Legends begins with the creation of your player character, although not on the scale of a lot of other character creators (looking at you dark souls), you can choose the basic features. Once you’re happy, get started within the strange new world, the Hisui region. When you land (because you get dropped out of the sky) you are found by Professor Laventon, who has misplaced his Pokémon and requires your assistance in recovering them.
Once introduced to the catching mechanics of the game, the professor is impressed with your skill and asks you to join him in completing the Pokédex. From this moment on you join Laventon’s clan in studying Pokémon and have free reign of the first region. The story continues to introduce new characters and provide the player with further opportunities to train, research and explore. Featured throughout the world are quests to perform for villagers that yield rewards, shops for clothing, features, items and moves.
What becomes apparent very quickly are the changes to Pokémon’s formula and although I’ve mentioned them, these additions are where the game truly shines. Starting off with the battle system, the elemental strength and weakness blueprint is still present. Much like some entries in the past creating individuality, the Hisui region is home to skills that define the combat and set it apart. The introduction of mastered moves is a gamble, allowing you to sacrifice speed for strength and vice versa. Throwing in this extra layer doesn’t diverge from the traditional combat but enhances it, allowing further planning and strategy to be considered.
The next feature is the new and improved catching system, tapping into the open-world elements of this entry. You are still able to battle and catch wild Pokémon, however, you can now freely capture them by sneaking close and throwing an empty Pokéball at them. This involves no menu, no loading and is as easy as it sounds, making it obvious if you were successful in your attempt.
Throughout Legends, you will travel through various lands within Hisui and encounter various Pokémon that will require multiple strategies to capture. You are also rewarded for this by your clan depending on how many Pokémon you caught, how you caught them and any further research that you conducted. This could sound tedious to some, but the rewards are worth the work, and this leads to the overall completion of the Pokédex.
The world has a lot of love and has tons of content within the village and spotted about in other areas that can keep any player entertained. Legends, with all these features, is both a familiar and fresh experience within the world of Pokémon and for the most part a positive experience. I do however have one complaint in my journey.
The open world is truly a fantastic step forward for the franchise, however, for the most part in my journeys, I found that the world was bland at times. This is the first time Game Freak have attempted this kind of system within the world of Pokémon, and it shows within the open areas, ultimately meaning this isn’t enough to portray an engaging ecosystem.
Overall Pokémon legends Arceus vastly improved on the old formula and has made strides in working towards the next step in Pokémon. Although not all the way there, I would recommend anyone, fan or not, to try it out for themselves.
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