Nintendo Switch Review: Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Breath of the Weedle?

A Bold New Direction. The Pokémon Legends: Arceus game honors past Pokémon games’ core gameplay while infusing new action and RPG elements. You’ll need to catch, survey, and research wild Pokémon in a long-gone era of the Sinnoh region to create and complete the region’s first Pokédex. You’ll be brought to the Sinnoh region, the setting for the Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl games. But this story unfolds in a long-gone era, before ideas such as being a Pokémon Trainer or having a Pokémon League even existed.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus takes the series in a different direction by infusing traditional Pokémon gameplay but adding in an open world and while combat between Pokémon is still turn-based, your trainer can move around in real-time. Catching Pokémon is different as you will need to manually aim and throw the Pokéballs at them, but also stealth is important as random encounters are gone and all the Pokémon are out in the wild, so if they spot you, they could seriously hurt you if you aren’t careful.

The story itself is also pretty engaging and while it’s a prequel to Diamond/Pearl, it almost feels like a Pokémon origin story of itself since the people of Sinnoh are just getting to grips with Pokémon and the Pokéballs are actually made out of wood…that’s right, wood. The game’s story is decent and there are tons of side quests scattered that include basics things like gathering ingredients or certain Pokémon for residents, plus crafting items is also included. So, essentially, it’s ticking a lot of boxes when it comes to RPG elements.

Obviously, comparisons to Breath of the Wild are unavoidable when you see a vast open world like this and while it definitely has those vibes to a degree, it definitely feels unique to itself. The visuals are a mixed bag and there are some bugs that will probably get patched further down the road, but nothing game breaking. The art style itself is simplistic but works well overall, while framerate is mostly consistent but did drop now and then. The soundtrack is typical of the series, which is always a plus.

The Verdict

Pokémon Legends: Arceus takes the series into new territory, but it works and it works well. It may be a bit rough around the edges in the visual department, but it has great RPG elements and an impressive open world while adding in new core gameplay, but at the same time maintaining the classic formula. Consider it a stepping stone to what hopefully will become the norm for the franchise, which will only get bigger and better in future entries.

Score: 8.5