Pokémon Legends: Arceus

released on Jan 28, 2022

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.

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I have decided to re-log this game after a while and my praises of the game have definitely diminished over time. I still think it’s the best in the series since B2W2, but I don’t think it’s “great” or anything. It’s certainly a step in the right direction but nearly every other game in this series for the past 10 years has been “a step in the right direction” only for the next game to not follow up on that at all. I’m so tired of only having “a step in the right direction” instead of a straight up great new game. I don’t care if this is an unfair complaint or whatever because I think it’s entirely fair to expect more from this series given that the best JRPGs on the switch at the same price are made by smaller teams teams with funds several times smaller than TPC.

The gameplay is certainly fun and innovative for the series. Battles and catching Pokémon feel fast and engaging. But throughout the game there’s so many annoyances and issues. The controls feel weird and there’s no way to remap them. The characters are shallow and forgettable, the visuals and optimisation are very sub-par, the new boss fights are incredibly boring and repetitive. QOL has been downgraded from SwSh (I don’t even know how). I cannot in good faith call this game anything other than “slightly above average for the series” even if it’s the first in a long time to do a lot of things right.

I respect Game Freak for trying something different. The Pokemon
formula has needed a shake up for a while, I really hope they can take the positives from Legends Arceus and build on them in future mainline games. Wouldn't say it is groundbreaking, but it is a step in the right direction.

A step in the right direction for the future of Pokemon. The open world maps make the previous games feel archaic in how they went about catching pokemon. Being able to just throw a pokeball and/or other Pokemon to catch Pokemon in the overworld makes collecting them SO much easier and makes the battles you do end up doing take far less time than previous titles. I thought I'd also hate the crafting in the game but even that is flushed out in a way that feels justified, with you being able to have your Pokemon collect some materials for you.

The graphics and story are probably the biggest cons with this game. The last Pokemon game I played was Pearl but I don't remember the story in Pokemon games being this bland and uninteresting. Friends have told me that it's to be expected at this point though, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. There's a lot of technical graphical issues with the game too. To be clear, I understand the style that Game Freak went with and most of the problems aren't due to the style but rather how it's implemented. Pop in is blatantly obvious, textures get really pixel-ly at times, and there's a lot of frame drops depending on the amount of Pokemon and what they're doing. Looking out from a mountaintop you can clearly see where the game stops rendering trees and from high in the air the map looks empty and barren.

These issues, aside the progressive leaps this game has made in updating the Pokemon formula more than make up for it and makes me eager to play future games in this style.

Legends: Arceus is very enjoyable, though a lot of modern Pokemon's presentational issues are present. I think my ideal form of this game would be more hostile: no fast travel, more restrictive mounts. The best parts were the scrappy first few hours (after the awful first hour), where I felt a genuine sense of wonder and threat, and frank amazement with how fluid the game felt to play (there's no way Game Freak did this alone). The game loses its lustre after a while, but it was all worth it for the parts that were great. Hopefully a sequel will be able to build an even better and more ambitious game on top of this solid foundation.

Primarily, this game has served as a wonderful bonding tool for myself and my now-girlfriend. Maybe this is tmi, but she lent it to me after we were first intimate with each other, so my first experience of this game was in a sexy, romantic haze. Subsequent conversations with her about this game were entangled in a tumultuous month-long process of us deciding what to do with our attraction, which has thankfully resulted in the loving relationship I find myself in today. This game holds a place in my heart for being a small part in the foundation of this relationship.

As a side note, I haven't so much finished this game today as much as I have decided to abandon the ultimate post-game objective. I haven't seen one of those space-time distortions since I saw the credits, and apparently I'm gonna need to see a lot of them to catch 'em all, so fuck it, it's not happening.

While it's a cool progression for the series and I'd love to see this format expanded, the game's just tedious. Catching pokemon is the main priority and gets very dull due to how simple and repetitive it is. The visuals aren't very good either. I like the idea of the art direction, but you don't see the paintbrush Japanese aesthetic in the game. The environments are bland, the lighting isn't very good, foliage looks amateur. They really should have doubled down on shading and stylizing more. Combat has some neat changes, but I often got comboed by an enemy for reasons out of my control. I wish I liked this game more, but the fundamentals of the game just gets very dull. There's nothing interesting to find by exploring. Basically no monuments, cool events, memorable moments. It's just more regular pokemon, some items, or a small purple spirit. Nothing about this game draws me in.