Pokémon Legends: Arceus review: A must-try for newbies and oldies

For a franchise that’s just as old as I am, Pokémon continues its streak of producing either entirely new games or remastering older ones for the Nintendo Switch. At the tailend of 2021, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl were released, bringing the Nintendo DS classics to older fans and new players alike. Little did we know that these releases set the stage for an exciting new game to kickstart 2022.

I was genuinely excited about Pokémon Legends: Arceus based on what the trailers showed us early on. For a game in this storied franchise to suddenly drop the linear playthrough and give you an open world experience in its totality is breaking tradition, if you will. In previous games, they gave us just a taste of what it would be like, but it’s only just a small portion in a rather formulaic game style.

Did this shift from tradition proved to be the game changer Nintendo wanted? Would this game finally convince some of you to buy a Switch? Let me put it this way:

Arguably the most unique game in the franchise

I don’t mean to repeat the headline, but this is the most unique game in terms of basically everything Pokémon-related. Honestly, the gameplay alone sold itself to be entirely different from how most people play every other game in the franchise’s history (with the exception of a few games). To its credit, the only thing it relatively maintains from the other games is that the storyline progresses in a linear fashion even without gyms and an Elite Four.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ overworld, beaming with color

Right off the bat, the game just throws you into the open world aspect of it that easily resembles the Wild Area from Pokémon Sword and Shield. There’s a rather long tutorial session that spans across the first few main objectives for the ins and outs of the game, which is pretty fine. Basically, you get to explore the world of Hisui or Sinnoh in the traditional times and meet all kinds of Pokémon right away — even strong ones.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Every Pokémon game requires that you battle wild Pokémon!

Also, the tall grass makes a triumphant reappearance in this game — even in the old times. Although, that’s not where you will find wild Pokémon unlike what every other game has conditioned you to think. In essence, this game will recondition your brain and make you question why the existing games operate the way they do, and the tall grass isn’t the only thing.

Beginner-friendly and also for the Pokémon-savvy

I believe that every Pokémon game ever released has beginner-friendly elements to it, suitable for total newbies to the franchise. With every game, it starts off quite easy to digest and the difficulty rises with higher level Pokémon (Alpha or not) spawning and tougher Frenzied Pokémon the further you progress. As mentioned earlier, there are no gyms or Elite Four members to get through to prove you’re the best Pokémon trainer in the region.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Choosing your starter Pokémon as a staple in every Pokémon game

If you’re a huge fan of the entire franchise, everything you’re looking for is also in Legends: Arceus. From catching all sorts of Pokémon to battling and evolving them, it’s classic Pokémon through and through with less trainer battles and more items to collect. During this period of Pokémon history, people and Pokémon didn’t necessarily get along the way they do in modern times.

Battling Frenzied Pokémon instead of gym battles

However, a lot of things are different to keep up with the times of the game. One of the more obvious changes is that you can craft Potions, Poké Balls and other nifty items through materials in the overworld. Also, other things they changed include some of the status conditions, like Drowsiness and Frostbite. Maybe in Hisui, it was normal for Pokémon to sleep, instead of being put to sleep. Oh, did I mention there’s fall damage in this game?

An open world game with meaningful side quests

Now, I’ve played a ton of open world-style games in the past, and one of the things I noticed in all of them was the side quests. These are rather optional tasks that you can just accomplish any time you want, and usually the rewards are not as exciting as you might think. I’m quite happy to report that Pokémon Legends: Arceus nails that rewarding aspect while also introducing some lore in there.

The Bothersome Bidoof side quest that grants you a Rare Candy to level up your Pokémon

Most side quests in other games give you materials for crafting items or in-game currency to upgrade tool power. As a standard in every Pokémon game, side quests give you either useful items or special Pokémon to use on your journey (in-game trades technically count). In this game, there are specific side quests that literally give you Shiny Pokémon for free and even access to other Legendary Pokémon if you play any of the previous releases.

These quests were honestly fulfilling to accomplish for the rewards you get. Plus, some side quests are essential when filling in information on the Pokédex for certain Pokémon, so there is an incentive to accomplish them. It’s a total package of main quests and side quests that contribute to the totality of Pokémon lore in the Hisui region, and I’m all for it!

Fan service for Generation 4 diehards

Again, this game came out almost two months after the release of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, the remakes of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl that took place in the Sinnoh region. Legends: Arceus takes us back in time to the old days of Sinnoh, when people still deemed Pokémon as natural threats and they’re still trying to coexist “peacefully.”

The fight with Dialga/Palkia on Spear Pillar — reminiscent of Diamond and Pearl

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that most of the locations in Legends: Arceus are similar to the ones you find in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, but without modern advancements. Diehard fans of the Generation 4 games (including Pokémon Platinum) will get a kick of discovering the drastic changes to some of the locations in these games like Sandgem Town, Veilstone City, and Spear Pillar (Temple of Sinnoh).

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Cogita mentions the Red Chain, an item that Team Galactic’s Cyrus uses in the Gen 4 games to summon the Lake Trio

Also, this extends to most of the characters you will meet along the way when playing the game. Honestly, I’ve seen way too many videos on YouTube detailing the ancestry of several characters in the modern games that were featured in Legends: Arceus, and these were mind-boggling. Imagine creating an entire franchise for 25+ years, and still adding so much lore in the process for people to subscribe to!

Greatest origin story yet

In my opinion, Pokémon Legends: Arceus just feels like the perfect start to 2022 for the Pokémon franchise. Sure, it tackles the past of the Sinnoh region and features both old and new Pokémon in the mix, which is pretty standard for most “new” games. However, this was an entirely different experience than what a lot of fans are used to, and it’s a welcomed change.

The thing about this game, too, is that even after going through the main story, there’s so much to do in the post-game. Most open world games contain an epilogue that offers closure, but isn’t as long and expansive as how Pokémon games do it. With Legends: Arceus, the story and the journey doesn’t stop with (spoiler alert) beating Dialga or Palkia at the temple.

So far, this is the greatest Pokémon origin story the franchise has ever produced, and the gameplay offers an entirely fresh take on the Pokémon formula. This is something old and new fans will surely enjoy. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to catch the God Pokémon — and yes, spoiler alert, too!

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

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Pokémon Legends: Arceus review: A must-try for newbies and oldies Pokémon Legends: Arceus review: A must-try for newbies and oldies Reviewed by Telenor Editorial on February 27, 2022 Rating: 5

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