Pokemon Legends Arceus review | new Nintendo Switch game rated
Reviews of Pokémon Legends: Arceus are pouring in now, and fans of Nintendo and Game Freak’s gripping franchise are treated to one of the most unique games the series has ever produced. If the Pokémon Legends: Arceus Metacritic score is anything to go by (it has an 85 from critics and a 7.7 from users), people generally seemed happy this time around.
One thing fans of Pokémon RPGs have learned over the years is that developers tend to move the franchise forward at a gradual, almost glacial pace. But now, after years of minor upgrades, you can finally see the whole picture coming together. It was all built on Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which represents a bold new frontier for the franchise as a whole.
Ever since the Pokémon series switched to 3D graphics with 2013’s X and Y, fans have been wondering what an open-world exploration game would look like in this franchise. In 2019, the Wild Area at the heart of Pokémon Sword and Shield’s map gave us a glimpse of what it could look like. And now, in 2021, we finally have a Pokémon RPG that features a wide open world and a focus on discovery as opposed to the usual eight gym grind. But does it work well? Keep reading the full RadioTimes.com review to find out!
From the first moment you start the game, Pokémon Legends: Arceus feels different. For one thing, it’s not a professor asking your name, but instead an ancient, all-powerful Pokemon delivers the introductory bumf. You are soon sent through a space-time rift back to ancient times in the Sinnoh region from Diamond and Pearl, although it looks very different at this point in the story – civilization is still in development, with these points of usual landmarks of Pokemon Centers, Marts and Gyms being nowhere to be found.
That being said, there are still some familiar elements in play. It won’t be long before you meet a professor, and he offers you to choose from three starter Pokémon. But from there, you will realize that your adventure this time will be very different from the previous ones.
While there are still Pokémon battles at semi-regular intervals, your goal here doesn’t revolve around becoming the region’s Pokémon champion. Instead, you’re tasked with helping the local Survey Corps create the first-ever Pokédex for that region. And this being an old feudal Japan-inspired society you work in, it’s a pen-and-paper Pokédex as opposed to a digital-age gimmick. (You have a phone with you for plot reasons, though.)
When you first venture into the area of the open world that takes up most of your playtime, it’s easy to feel a sense of awe. Clearly, Game Freak has listened to fans’ longstanding desire for a Pokemon game that’s a less on-track experience, and this game truly delivers on that promise. Although the world is divided into a few different regions, the overall experience of wandering this wilderness is nothing short of joyful for long-time fans.
There are loads of wild Pokémon roaming around – some you can catch with a simple toss of a ball (Pokémon Go style), and others that will require a battle to tame them. There are even “alpha” Pokémon with glowing red eyes that will take a lot of strength to get up to speed. This region feels alive and real, and there is even a range of different biomes (from grassy areas to swampy areas and even large large lakes). It is, simply put, the biggest Pokemon world we’ve ever had the chance to explore in video game form.
Every good open-world game requires a variety of tasks for players to perform, and Pokémon Legends: Arceus delivers on that front as well. Your Pokédex contains a selection of research tasks for each creature (another carryover from Pokémon Go), which will challenge you to catch the same creatures multiple times, battle with them, and see their moves in action. It takes the boring old routine of encountering wild Pokemon and turns it into an engrossing gameplay loop that can suck you in for hours.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus also has side missions (another element that has been somewhat tested in Sword and Shield), which usually revolve around a local villager who needs your help with something – it could be anything. what, from rounding up a troublesome Bidoof to catching a specific creature someone is desperate to see. These little tasks are a lot of fun and ensure that you always have a few different activities on your record. They keep things from getting boring, basically.
And then there’s the main plot of the game, which we won’t spoil too much here. Suffice it to say that a number of Pokemon have gone into intense states of “fervor” due to the mysterious space-time rift you’ve been through. It’s up to you to tame them in a series of increasingly difficult boss battles, much like what you’d experience in the Monster Hunter franchise or even The Witcher games, where you’ll need to put together a few different skills in order to successfully negate each new monster-sized threat.
These different challenges blend well together, creating an overall experience that is varied and full of surprises. We expect many long-time Pokémon fans to be impressed, and some newcomers might be tempted as well. The only issues really are the graphics and overall production values, which don’t feel like they’ve jumped in the same way as the gameplay and world design.
While there are new Pokemon to catch here (and even some you can roll over), many of the character/creature models have looked the same for years. And while the fights are a bit more dynamic now (you can try out moves with different “styles”, and your human character can run around during fights instead of being rooted in one place), these matches are still turn-based. trick and fairly easy to foil. (unless you’re facing an alpha or fervor Pokemon you’re not ready for).
Also, there are a few annoying things. When someone gives you an item, for example, you still don’t see anything physical changing hands. And when exploring the village rather than the open world area, if you try to open a door to someone’s house, there’s a brief throb while the next area loads. It’s a small element, but it breaks your immersion. These two small details, along with the graphics that look a bit outdated, make the whole thing feel a bit less premium than you might expect.
Overall, though, Pokémon Legends: Arceus feels like a breath of fresh air for this franchise, much like Breath of the Wild did for Zelda. It’s a leap forward and a brave evolution of what this series can do. While it’s still a far cry from “realistic” graphics or full, seamless immersion, exploring a much freer environment and tackling varied tasks is still fun. Here’s hoping Game Freak’s next installment of incremental, almost icy improvement focuses on the visual and technical side. If the developers can master this, they could create an even bigger game than Pokémon Legends: Arceus. And that means something.
Pokémon Legends Arceus is out now on Nintendo Switch and you canread more here:
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