honestly a lot more fun than i expected it to be. i still have problems though
biggest issue for me is that everything is... well, too big. legends arceus did "open world" really well - each area felt distinct and open with plenty to explore, without being overwhelming. paldea on the other hand just feels massive and unwieldy, with way too much open space and next to no notable landmarks. the cities fall victim to this too; every single time i walked into one i felt immediately lost and there wasn't enough in each city to motivate learning the layout - i think this is also a fault of the giant open world, in that there isn't much reason to go to the cities except for the gym and maybe to buy new clothes; they don't feel at all like part of the progression, which really sucks compared to previous pokemon games. it doesn't feel like there are grounded objectives until the very endgame, and it doesn't help that there isn't any level scaling. i really really think if they want to go the open world route again for gen 10 that they should take more notes from legends arceus. area zero is by FAR the best area of this game and a big part of that is how self-contained it is
i also think the team star "raids" are really awful. i get that they wanted to force you to use the auto battle system but man its literally just "spam the R button for the next 2 minutes". on the other hand, the tera raids are a big improvement from the dynamax raids in swsh. still though, the shield is annoying and the fact that they can wipe stat changes and even uncharge the tera orb is total BS and makes the high level raids a lot less fun.
it's also really annoying that trading is still required in any way to complete the pokedex. like, they're already keeping the size of the pokedex pretty small to make it more accessible to fully complete, so why keep the biggest and dumbest blockade of all? either give each version its own pokedex with version exclusives, or better yet, stop making two fucking versions, the concept is way past its prime and we don't need it anymore!!!!!
and obviously performance issues. i actually didn't run into any major glitches (the worst i really saw was pokemon spawned inside a wall a couple times, and a couple really wonky hitboxes), but the fps is a whole other story. everything feels so, so sluggish, either because of the framerate or just because things take forever to load sometimes. the camera also controls really badly
a couple nice things to end off:
- the characters and their stories are great! while the main plot is whatever, arven and nemona and penny are all great. i liked all the different personalities at the academy itself too, especially clavell - it is really really nice to see an old man character in a position of power who is not just a good guy but also just really awesome - he's one of the best characters in the whole game
- the music is so, so good! i also was really impressed by how much effort was put into the transitions, whether going seamlessly from field to battle music or between gym leader phases or from battle to fanfare, it always felt shockingly natural, and the motif use is super super well done in this game overall
- it was still generally a very fun game, even with all its issues! i just wish game freak would get their shit together, really

Reviewed on Dec 24, 2022