Pokémon Legends: Arceus changes the formula, pushes the envelope, and most importantly, makes us feel like a kid experiencing Pokémon again.
Pokémon reaches new heights
A lover letter to the Diamond and Pearl era of titles, Pokémon Legends: Arceus takes you back in time to before Pokémon were integrated as loving members of the gameworld’s society. In the quaint village of Jubilife, the game’s main hub, citizens fear Pokemon and the destructive power they can possess.
The adventure starts off like any other Pokémon title, choosing your character and jumping into the world with a brief introduction cutscene. This time, however, things are a bit more cryptic from the get-go, and the story feels much more narratively driven than past titles.
Upon Arceus’ greeting, you are given their mission to catch all the Pokémon before landing on the shores of the Hisui region. It’s here that I was greeted by the leader of the village, and the gameplay kicked off from here.
Interestingly, Legends: Arceus deviates quite heavily from past titles. From the start, the inhabitants of the Hisui region are very wary of your character, as they know you feel from the sky and magically appeared on the beach alongside an ominous storm. So, they task you with researching Pokémon to prove that your intentions are noble and you are not a bad person. Simple enough, and the game carries this along as you navigate to different areas, meet new characters, and move the narrative along. As always, the plot takes a back seat to the overall, moment-to-moment gameplay, but that’s perfectly okay.
The goal is still to catch all of the Pokémon available, but the means of doing so are drastically different. Rather than the focus being battling and catching as many creatures are you can, the main goal is to simply capture as many as you possibly can. That may sound like nothing new, but the way Legends: Arceus implements this mechanic makes all the difference. Pokémon can now be caught without having to engage them in battle at all. Pokémon in Legends: Arceus roam around the open world in full 3d models. So, gone are the days of random encounters in the grass. In fact, in a slight bit of irony, you the player are now the one hiding the grass jumping out at Pokémon.
You can still battle with your Pokémon, and it makes harder to catch creatures easier to obtain, but the main focus is running around and throwing Pokeballs at the creatures. This leads to another new mechanic for Pokémon: crafting. With the focus on running and catching creatures outside of battle, you’re going to need lots of Pokeballs to make that happen. But, don’t worry, it’s still easier to catch Pokémon at full health this go around than it ever has been before. As you navigate the different areas of the game, you will find pieces of ore, plants, berries, and more that can be used to create Pokeballs and other items to aid in your exploration.
In terms of content, Legends: Arceus has a lengthy story that took me around 20ish hours to complete, although some of that was punctuated with side quests and farming Pokémon. I also have yet to see the true ending, which requires a lot more than simply playing through the story. Beyond that, there is a ton of post-game content to dig through; all of the Diamond and Pearl-era legendaries are here for players to seek out and catch. The Pokedex takes an enormous amount of work to complete this time around as well, as you need to hit certain requirements with each Pokémon to fully fix out their Pokedex entry. These different aspects of the title add to the core experience in a way that feels organic. I’ve never been happier with the type, and amount, of content that is offered here in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
Visually, Pokémon Legends: Arecus lands as well. The art design is phenomenal here. Each area, character model, and Pokémon is punctuated with a beautiful pastel coloration and shading that gives a level of vibrance to the world that we haven’t seen in Pokémon before. While it may not be the most visually impressive title out there, it definitely nails the stylistic look it was going for, and in a way that fits with the characters and the world.
This is the best Pokémon has ever looked, and it’s also some of the most fun I’ve ever had with the series.
If you’re a fan of the Pokémon series, this is a must-buy, as soon as possible. If you’re into JRPG-type games, this is also definitely worth checking out. Even if you’re into fun exploration/adventure-type games, this title is worth diving into. I cannot praise GameFreak enough for the strides they’ve taken with this entry in the series, and I would love to see this design philosophy transplanted into the mainline series of Pokémon titles.
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