Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokémon Company
Genre(s): RPG, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 28/01/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
A Whole New World
The latest instalment in the world of Pokémon is finally upon us, set prior to the events of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl in what would come to be known as Sinnoh. Embracing a new open-world setting, Pokémon Legends: Arceus has a beautiful world in which to explore – and what a world it is.
There’s been a lot of speculation regarding Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ graphics, but believe me when I say, what it lacks in art style, it makes up for in its fantastic gameplay and all-around experience. Make no doubt, the world still looks good, albeit a little empty, but it’s not the worse game I’ve ever seen on the Switch; it’s bright, vibrant and full of Pokémon. What more could you want?
Upon starting your adventure, you will be given a taste of the new gameplay, having to catch the three escaped Pokémon that would become your choice of starters; Rowlet, Cyndaquil and Oshawott, an interesting range from previous starters. I opted for Cyndaquil, as this was my favourite generation of starters. This is where you notice a big difference; Pokémon are freely roaming around the world — no more random encounters.
In each biome you explore in Sinnoh you will see Pokémon specific to that area out in the open. You can then decide whether you want to battle them, catch them or even just walk past and leave them be. It’s entirely up to you. This is completely different to the Pokémon mechanics we are all used to; you can just throw a Pokéball at any Pokémon you see and wait for it to be caught without the need to make it weak, which made the game feel a lot quicker. That is with the exception of some Pokémon, but more on that later.
Good Ol’ Turn-Based Battles
The battling system in Pokémon Legends: Arceus is still the turn-based battling system we are used to; pick a move out of four choices and your opponent will do the same. The only difference being that you, as the player, will be able to move around freely whilst this battle is happening. It doesn’t have any benefits to doing so, it’s just cool to be able to see the battle in 3D 360 degrees.
There is a little bit of a change in how you use certain attacks too which are called Battle Styles. These are split between two forms; Strong Style and Agile Style. For some attacks, you will be able to choose one of these styles when you use them. The Strong Style will, as you probably guessed, make your attack more powerful, but your attack speed will be reduced, potentially delaying your next move. The Agile Style will be a quicker, but less powerful attack, but you may be left with an extra attack on your opponent. Learning how to use these styles effectively can be the key to winning a battle.
With Pokémon Legends: Arceus being more of a open-world setting, it’s only fitting that there would be missions to follow – just like any good RPG game should have. There are a number of missions that will keep you occupied throughout your time in the Hisui region. Obviously, you will have your main missions, but you will come across various side missions as well as, and perhaps the most interesting, missions for each and every Pokémon, known as Survey Tasks. Let me explain.
Every Pokémon in the wild can be examined, and in doing so you will see a number of missions you can complete in order to gain some extra EXP. These missions will range from catching a certain number of that Pokémon, battling that Pokémon a specific number of times or even seeing them evolve or perform a certain attack. It’s a really cool little addition to the game that sees you focusing on more than just ‘catching them all.’ Of course, these little missions will often have you hoarding a number of Pokémon, but you can release them back into the wild in order to create space for new Pokémon.
Some Pokémon Have Anger Issues
As I touched upon earlier, catching Pokémon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus can be a simple and easy process. Not having to enter into any kind of battle, just simple throwing your Pokéball and… poof! Caught. Some Pokémon, however, are a little more stubborn.
All Pokémon in the game have temperaments, which will affect the way players can interact with them. Some Pokémon are calm and relaxed, allowing you to walk right up to them and catch them or battle them rather easily, some are a little more wary of people and so you will need to sneak to them so that they don’t run or fly away, and others will be more aggressive and actually try to attack you on sight. It adds an interesting element to the game; learning just how each Pokémon will react to you is a fun process. Why must you attack me, Psyduck!?
Pokémon Are Vehicles
A nice new feature that Pokémon Legends: Arceus has implemented is within the way you can travel around the soon-to-be Sinnoh region. You can use certain Pokémon to fly you around, climb up mountains and also to speed across Plains in order to reach your destination.
You won’t be able to use these traversal abilities straight away though. The ability to ride select Pokémon will be unlocked when completing the main mission “The Frenzy of the Lord in the Woods”, unlocking you the ‘Celestial Flute’ – the item that allows you to ride Pokémon.
Sadly, there are only five ’rideable’ Pokémon in Arceus; Wyrdeer, Ursaluna, Basulegion, Braviary and Sneasler. Although I would have liked there to be a little more freedom in choosing which Pokémon you can ride, it’s still a cool feature to have.
Give It Time
The one thing that became quickly apparent in Pokémon Legends: Arceus is that there is a lot of narrative to read. This is more evident in the beginning of the game, giving you an extensive tutorial and story background that sees you reading with the odd bit of action for at least a couple of hours. It can be a little draining to begin your adventure this way, but trust me, stick with it. You won’t be disappointed.
I must say, Arceus is probably one of the easiest Pokémon games I’ve played for a long time. I didn’t have many points in the game where I struggled to progress, or even where I needed to go back and grind out some more levels for my Pokémon in order to defeat someone to progress. It has an excessive amount of hand-holding and will often tell you how to do a specific thing more than once. It’s definitely a great starting place for newcomers to the series, but for veterans, it can be a little annoying.
Overall, Pokémon Legends: Arceus breathes new life into a series that, I felt, was becoming a little stale – almost feeling like you’re playing the same game over and over again. Arceus felt like an entirely new game and it helped to bring a fresh perspective to a much loved franchise. It is definitely worth your time. I can only hope that they will take this new style, and adapt it to make the best Pokémon game we have ever seen.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can download Pokémon Legends: Arceus from the Nintendo store here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.