Pokémon Legends: Arceus- A Step in the Right Direction


Photo Credit: Nintendo

Last year on Pokémon Day, the Pokémon company surprised the internet with the announcement of two brand new Pokémon games.

While Pokémon Brilliant Diamon/Shinning Pearl stuck to the old formula to remake the generation four classic, Pokémon Legends: Arceus was looking to change the status quo and reinvent the franchise.

Now that the game has been out for a month, we can ask ourselves what the game did right, what it did wrong, and how it paves the way to Pokémon’s future.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a rapid departure from the series norm, opting for an open-world experience similar to the wild areas featured in Pokémon Sword and Shield.

When first playing Legends: Arceus, it is made abundantly clear that these wild areas were a mere prototype in size and scale for the five major areas in Arceus. The locations in the game are simply massive with a surprising amount to do. The game also prevents these areas from feeling too daunting by locking off locations until you unlock abilities later in the game.

Another major point for the game is the surprisingly tender story which starts off simple, but quickly adds a lot of depth. It quickly became one of my favorite stories in the series and has introduced some of my new favorite characters who I will not mention due to spoiler reasons.

These massive areas are a driving factor in what makes the gameplay loop of this game so satisfying. I have never felt the drive to capture all Pokémon in other games but Legends: Arceus actively encourages the player to capture every single Pokémon.

This experience is very satisfying due to the added depth that the game added for capturing Pokémon. There are so many ways you capture them in this game from hiding in bushes, luring them out with food, or simply battling them like in previous games.

The game as a whole is just very satisfying and I never found myself bored or having a feeling of tedium when playing. I think this is also due in part to the difficulty scale the game has. Despite having very few trainer battles, I never felt too weak or too strong during my playthrough. Having a good difficulty scale is a very important feature to me in games and doing right seems to be very difficult for developers. My favorite game of all time, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, even suffers from this issue. I have to congratulate the developers for getting this aspect right.

While I can sing the praises of this game all I want, these are a few problems that I want to highlight.

The battle system of Pokémon Legends: Arceus is simple but effective. Switching between fast but weaker attacks in speed style or strong but slow attacks in strong style is much more fun than some of the previous battle gimmicks that the company has introduced in the past.

The problem comes in the fact that battling in this game is not as important as the others. There are only around 15 actual trainer battles in the game and battling Pokémon in the wild mostly amounts to spamming strong style to knock them out.

Of course, the solution to this would be player vs player battles, but Pokémon Legends: Arceus has no online battling whatsoever. This decision seems kind of bizarre given all of the major adjustments the game has done for the battle system and left me feeling like all of these changes were a waste.

Another big con that I have to bring up is some of the performance issues the game has. Due to it being on less powerful hardware, the game can have some major graphical and frame hiccups while playing. This isn’t a major issue and didn’t hamper my experience when playing the game, but I did feel like it was worth mentioning for players who do consider that a big issue.

Overall, my play-through of Pokémon Legends: Arceus was a joy. I genuinely have high hopes for the future of Pokémon if this game is anything to go off of.

I hope that the Pokémon company can build off this game and properly implement them into a mainline entry and based on the trailers for the upcoming games, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, I feel that Pokémon has a great future ahead of it.