released on Nov 18, 2022
by Game Freak
The Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet games, the newest chapters in the Pokémon series, are coming to Nintendo Switch later this year. With these new titles, the Pokémon series takes a new evolutionary step, allowing you to explore freely in a richly expressed open world.
Various towns blend seamlessly into the wilderness with no borders. You’ll be able to see the Pokémon of this region in the skies, in the seas, in the forests, on the streets—all over! You’ll be able to experience the true joy of the Pokémon series—battling against wild Pokémon in order to catch them—now in an open-world game that players of any age can enjoy.
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It's quite difficult for me to gather my thoughts into a single opinion because Pokémon Violet gives me a lot of positive emotions, but at the same time it is not at all devoid of negative ones.
First of all, this is my first exposure to Pokémon in any form. And now I understand why they are so popular. This is such a simple and attractive concept! For the first few hours of the game I randomly brushed off every part of the story to catch and see every cute and funny creature from the game's extremely wide range. This diversity immediately motivates you to look around every corner of the world in search of every Pokémon, and this desire is perfectly rewarded with a wide variability in the types, techniques and behavior of different creatures. Surprisingly looking around the massive open world map at the beginning of the game, I expected a rich, varied and vibrant adventure. And after 68 hours of playing, it's hard for me to answer whether I could get it in full.
And I will immediately stop ignoring an important aspect of the game in my head. Visually and stylistically, the game... raises questions. It simultaneously has a fairly uniform and pleasant style, and at the same time often looks like an outdated product. Pokémons, characters, and some locations are all well designed and nice to look at, but the overall visual presentation of the world obviously leaves you a little disappointed. Sometimes everything seems monotonous and unpolished, unattractive and even just plain ugly. It seems to me that the game would benefit from a more "cartoon" style (as in the projects of Nintendo itself of this generation), because a more realistic approach to visualization (and here I'm more likely talking about vast locations and architecture) exposes the technical imperfections of the game and makes the world less "special" or varied. And this problem is directly related to, in my opinion, the main drawback of the game.
Open world and its structure. Seeing every corner of Paldea after many hours of playing, you understand that this is... a world of missed opportunities. The most obvious thought that comes to mind after the end of the game about the open world is that it is sadly empty. And yes, it is obvious that in a game about Pokemons they will be the main content of the world, but in the last third of the game it becomes clear that this is desperately not enough. It's amazing how even though the open world is fairly large, structurally it still feels very small. There are so many open large areas filled with literally nothing (except, of course, Pokémons). All points of interest in the form of cities and very rarely interesting biomes are few and not memorable enough. There is a desert, a snow biome, forests and beaches, but in the end it all feels like surfaces of different colors. The endless supply items scattered throughout the game's world is the epitome of the sadness of the open world of Pokémon Violet, it's almost an admission of one's own failure. The only interesting activities outside the cities are stone towers (also monotonous) and black stakes, by collecting which you can open four secret Pokemons. Even the cities themselves are not too interesting. They have little interactivity, no interesting characters other than trainers, and the cities themselves are just small. They tried to give them individuality, but it was done on a very basic level. The regions differ little from each other and the number of tasks or just interesting things outside the main storylines is almost zero, which of course is simply unacceptable in such a large open world. Undoubtedly, catching Pokémons is an addictive activity, but there are hardly other activities in Paldea. After all, undoubtedly this world could be made more vivid, memorable and interesting, it has the makings of it. But it seems that the creators did not have enough time or passion. And so, running through the last couple of regions less carefully than the previous ones, I did not feel the slight sense of shame inherent in me with such a decision. Because I realized that I was hardly missing out on much.
But still, sometimes the plot pulls you out of your wanderings through the endless expanses of sadness. The game has three main storylines. Each of them demonstrate slightly different approaches to gameplay, as well as different characters. The champion branch is as classic as possible, but it pleases with a variety of characters and small pre-battle quests that have very simple but new mechanics (which are desperately lacking outside of the quests themselves). The Star Team branch is fun with its attempts at plot twists and social overtones, and it's a pity that the settlements (and the final Pokémons) of each boss lack personality. But even so, this is a plot made at a normal level. The last branch with the titans has perhaps the most developed character from the three friends of the hero (I'm talking about my little buddy Arven, of course), but it seems to be missing a more complex gameplay loop than just kill the boss - watch the cutscene. However, in general, each of the plots can be called pleasant and at least a little attractive (especially against the backdrop of an open world). The part of the game with studies and teachers is also not bad, it's nice that you can get to know each of the teachers a little better. The three storylines eventually converge into the final journey to Area Zero, and by the end of the game it really lifted my fading feelings a bit. And even if the gameplay is long empty walks along the same planes, the disclosure of the story is pleasantly surprising, it is fun to watch the interactions of the character, and the final thoughts at the end almost add up to a rather unexpected (for such a game) and pleasant moral. And it's pretty cool that after the credits there is a small additional quest. Obviously the characters and certain elements of the story are one of the good parts of the game and (unlike some other elements) absolutely try to be enjoyable and colorful. And at times they really succeed at it.
In a rather strange way it will be the gameplay that will be the last main element of the game in my thoughts. In the end, I think it's just not bad. The mechanics of fighting and catching Pokemon, two of the main mechanics of the game, are executed quite nicely (except that the twentieth thrown Pokeball when catching can sometimes be annoying). The system of evolutions, techniques and relationships is quite diverse and does not raise questions. A lot of consumable items of a bunch of types, although seem kind of useless to me (I did not use the new movement crafting system or stat-boosting items at all because I had no problems passing without them), but I do not at all mind having them in the game. The same with the picnic and sandwich system, these auxiliary elements do not change the game drastically but add the necessary variety to it. Of course, in this aspect, the game could go much further and make it much more polished and meaningful, but even without that, it is at a completely acceptable level. And therefore does not fall in any of the directions described by me earlier.
And before the end, I would like to note a couple of thoughts. The technical state of the game is of course unsatisfactory. The game did not crash, but I saw a couple of bugs and a lot of roughness is of course depressing. It is likely that the developers simply did not have enough time or staff to do control quality, and I hope that there will be less of this in the upcoming DLCs. The multiplayer aspects are well done, although I haven't had much chance to try them out. The game has a few nice touches like different colors and sizes of Pokémon or bonuses for completing previous games in the series, which is quite surprising given the far from ideal state of some of the fundamental aspects of the game (but it's no less nice to see these little things). The interface is convenient, the music is pleasant in places (although listening to the same location theme for two hours running through the fields or hearing the same mundane theme during cutscenes is a bit sad). There are a couple more of annoying moments in it, like small Pokemon that you constantly get in your way with which you do not want to fight, but they are too small to have a serious impact on the overall impression of the game. And of course, I liked all the clothes for customization so much that I went around in the starting clothes the whole game, yes.
A couple of hours after completing Pokémon Violet, it's a little sad to realize that not all of your dreams come true. Traveling around Paldea certainly had its bright sides, it was quite a fun and memorable experience. But it was also tiring in places. And partly disappointing. Wandering around a conceptually vibrant world and realizing that it could be much more (in my wildest dreams even as emotional as, for example, Super Mario Odyssey, the first game on the platform that I enthusiastically completed) is a rather melancolic experience. I can't deny the positives of this game, but I can't forget the negatives either. I thought about giving the game a 6 or 7 for a long time, but in the end I decided to go down. This does not mean that the game is bad, but (as with many projects that are close in my final score) it could be so much better. Judging by the reviews of many, this is obviously far from the best part of the series. But judging by the reviews of many, this is the best part of the series in a long time. And so there is hope for a brighter future. Albeit largely only because I don't want to part with Pokémon Violet on a sad note.
Another game being damaged by having crunches and a small development timespan. Frame rate being intolerable and had the game crash 3 times on me, I still had a good time playing it. The open world and actually having the freedom to travel with having a better story to follow keeps this from being one of the weakest of the series.
Saying how good this game is for me feels like my dad talking about how the car he owns from 2006 is incredible and full of stories as long as you ignore the fact it almost falls apart the minute it gets on the road except this game came out last year.
This could have been the best Pokémon game if there wasn’t so many bugs. Would prob give 5/5 if no bugs