Pokemon Legends: Arceus - Review, the revolution that was needed

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They are now gone 25 years since the first game came out Pokémon, and all this time the formula of the main titles has never changed. Of course, there have been exceptions, such as the series Cleaning or that Mystery Dungeon, but they have always been developed and seen by users as simple spin-offs, interesting ideas transformed into small individual projects (or sometimes with one or two titles in tow). This time though Game Freak seems to have decided to try to break down all the classic stakes and clichés of his original series, trying to create a new great project that is able to keep up with the times, without giving up all the features that have made this brand that which is. Here is our review of Pokemon Legends: Arceus.

Same place, another time

The game, for those who know a minimum of the modus operandi of The Pokémon Company, comes out during the year dedicated to the remakes of the fourth generation titles, and is therefore very linked to Sinnoh region. Except that, unlike Pokémon DBPS, which are an actual remake of Diamond and Pearl also released this year, in this case the developers have decided to undertake a new road. In fact, we will always be in the well-known Sinnoh region (as the game title also suggested), but this time in the past, before the modern era and the metropolis.

This paved the way for a lot of new ideas for Pokémon designs that could thus have a new "regional shape" without having to affect the temporal continuity of events, and also helped to make the whole world explorable and open-world. In fact, having far fewer buildings and elements to place on the screen, the developers had fewer problems managing the data load and made possible a framerate that it never drops below 30 fps, making everything fluid (and fortunately moving away from the various trailers where the video was running at 20 frames per second).

This "time travel" has also made it possible to test the new game mechanics much more "realistic" (pass us the term), masking them in an archaic world that does not yet have all that information and relationships with the Pokémon world we are used to. This leads to having all the creatures of the game in their natural state and totally immersed in their habitat, instead of accustomed to the presence of human beings around them, and in fact much more attention has been paid toapproach of your avatar with the Pokémon that surround him.

Immersiveness as you've never seen it before

In Pokemon Legends: Arceus the various pocket monsters will have different reactions based on their nature: they could approach curiously, run away as soon as they see you, or even attack on sight anyone who enters their territory. This will also mean that you will have to physically dodge enemy attacks, and hiding or approaching with caution if you don't want to be noticed, since you will be the one to take the damage, and if you are hit too often you will lose some of your objects in place (objects that in this game are much more essential than in the past).

Making Pokémon battles almost secondary and focusing everything on your character not only modernizes the franchise, making it closer to the most modern and action RPGs, but also greatly increases immersion in the game and the desire to do. You will spend hours crafting items, wandering around the map, discovering new Pokémon's habitats, finding easter eggs, and pursuing various quest secondary to rise in rank. You will do everything for hours avoiding the main quest probably, a bit like in any open-world RPG.

As icing on the cake we also have the spend some time and meteorological differences to influence the gameplay. To Hisui indeed time is very changeable, you can quickly go from a sunny day to a foggy day in a very short time, changing not only visually the environment around us, but also having an effect on the Pokémon, their moves and our avatar. In fact, if for example it rains a lot and we continue to be outdoors, not only will our clothes get soaked, but our character will also start shivering with cold.

The gameplay revolution

But what is actually different about the way you play this Pokemon Legends: Arceus? You will notice right away, right from the choice of the starter, how much the general experience has changed. To begin with, the Pokémon will be totally visible in the overworld, with no more random encounters, more they will try to attack you directly, to drive you out of their territory. This also opens the door to new mechanics of your avatar that now, in addition to walking and running, will also have the command to crouch and to dodge to avoid opponent's moves.

The capture system has also been implemented, in fact, in addition to the classic throwing of the Pokéballs during the fight, now you can decide to opt for a more stealth approach and catching wild Pokémon without them noticing. Obviously it will not always be immediate, you will have to evaluate the type of Pokémon, its attitude towards you, the type of Pokéball and the level of your target. In fact, scattered around the map there will also be so-called alpha pokemon which will have a much higher level and power than average, and you will have to weaken them before you can try to capture them.

They also have been completely removed the NMs (as for a couple of generations now), and in full Pokémon Sun and Moon style you will have several Pokémon that you can recall to run, fly, sail on water or search for treasures. One last major change has been made to the gyms, which have been removed completely. In their place they have been enter challenges against royal Pokémon (bigger and more powerful) in which you will have to be careful to dodge their blows and throw them some sedatives to make them appease, very in the style of rpg action.

The technical side makes your nose turn up a bit

We now come to the first real big delicate point of the whole review of Pokemon Legends: Arceus, the graphic sector. We won't turn around too much, the graphics resolution of the game is very bad: extremely flat and "pixelated", both in the huge open environments, and in terms of the textures of the clothes of the various NPCs. The Pokémon in this case are a bit of a small exception since their colors and their tones have always been quite flat, so, at least on their realization, we do not want to rage too much.

Many would argue that such a serious technical deficiency both to be attributed to the Nintendo Switch hardware who, as we know, certainly does not shine for characteristics, especially compared to their colleagues. However, it is not possible to reduce everything to this if we consider other titles, always for this console, which on the contrary manage to live on much more than acceptable and artistically incredible graphics: let's take for example Xenoblade Chronicles, Dragon Quest XI, or even the famous The Legend of Zelda BOTW, all titles in which the eye definitely gets its share.

On the other hand, however, we can consider ourselves more than satisfied with regard to the vfx and animations which, although the developers have reduced the number of total moves present in the game, they are all excellent and pleasant to look at. They also manage to make people forget for a moment all those static moves that had been included in Pokémon Sword and Shield and that, rightly, had made the fans very upset. Everything is also seasoned with really well done sound effects and music and that blend perfectly with the game environment, creating, especially in the highlights, incredible atmospheres.

Final thoughts

So let's give a worthy conclusion to this review, Pokemon Legends: Arceus is an excellent title that finally refreshes the whole franchise. In our opinion, the risk that Game Freak and The Pokémon Company wanted to take paid off, bringing to the market a game, which certainly has some gaps and some rough features, but which finally sets a new standard on what could be the Pokémon games of tomorrow, in a world that finally seems more and more realistic and more alive and in motion.

  • Pokemon Legends: Arceus (Tested on Switch) 7.5 Final grade

    The title is what every Pokémon fan has been waiting for a lifetime, a game in which you are completely immersed in the world, surrounded by pocket monsters and with the freedom of an open-world. Obviously the features implemented are completely innovative only when compared to the Pokémon world, but this is already an excellent first step taken by Game Freak. Unfortunately, the graphic resolution left a bad taste in our mouth, which perhaps could have been better if only they had dedicated a little more time to the work. All in all, however, we feel more than satisfied, and we have high expectations for those who will be games of the future.

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