Pokemon Legends Arceus review

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; fans don’t know what they want.

I don’t say this as an outsider looking in; I’ve been playing Pokemon since 1999. My journey has been Blue, Gold, Ruby, Platinum, Black, Y, Sun, and Sword, with multiple sequels and side-games thrown in for good measure. Umbreon and Espeon have been tattooed on my forearm for the better part of the last decade, and I’ve got three separate extra devices just for Pokemon GO.

I say all this not to brag (obviously, because it’s frankly kind of sad), but to establish that when it comes to Pokemon, I’ve been there since the beginning. So when I say that Pokemon Legends Arceus is one of the best things the franchise has ever graced the world with, I am able to back that up.

Because, well, it is. 

We’re entering Unown territory

Pokemon Legends Arceus begins with inexplicable time travel. No flux capacitors or TARDISes in sight, but instead a fairly literal Deus Ex Machina (or Arceus Ex Machina, I guess).

I’m not going to wax lyrical on the implications of this game to the temporal causality of the Pokemon universe. I’m just going to say that the way it’s handled is deeply refreshing. Instead of long-winded explanations and technical know-how, the rationale is basically that a wizard did it. The wizard is Arceus. Also you’ve got amnesia, like a daytime soap opera.

Look, the plot ain’t Shakespearow. 

Willing and Clefable

The Galaxy Team – definitely not Team Galactic – accept your time mishaps with the naivety and good humour of a toddler, barely questioning your story before asking you to work for them. Honestly, hiring standards in Hisui aren’t the best. As long as you can demonstrate that you’re not pants-wettingly terrified of a Starly, you’re basically their messiah.

The quests start off sort of basic; go here, catch this, come back, etc. At least there’s no escort missions, so thanks for small Blisseys.

And it gets Wyrdeer

Every new Pokemon game brings new forms, evolutions, and general design-related shenanigans. Pokemon Legends Arceus brings us the Hisuian variants, which range from the excellent (Arcanine) to the less excellent (Electrode) to the viscerally upsetting (Palkia). The new types come with some slight stat shifts which, despite the lack of a multiplayer function, lay the foundation for real paradigm shifts to competitive play in future. Dual type Samurott with added Speed? Oh, yes please.

The Pokedex is mostly the same as the standard Sinnoh dex from Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, but the Hisuian forms and new playstyle means you’ll be far from bored.

Speaking of the Pokedex, the new system of actually researching what they eat and do should be the standard. I genuinely felt like I was doing, you know, research. Science is 90% repitition, as they say, and BOY will you be doing some science.

Unforgiving and even Tentacruel

Most surprising of all, Pokemon Legends Arceus is actually kind of hard. I know, right; a challenging Pokemon game! Well it’s not that surprising; I lost many hours to the harder versions of Pokemon Conquest, and while I struggled with the Mystery Dungeon series I think that’s mostly because I had absolutely no idea what was going on. But Pokemon Legends Arceus is closer to the formula we know and love, except now it’s dangerous. 

I used to love challenge runs of classic games, but I don’t think you’ll be able to Nuzlocke this one. Your Pokemon will faint. Like, a lot. Alpha Pokemon hit like a truck on ketamine whose mother you just insulted, and the levels just keep on climbing as you traverse Hisui. You can’t be Snorlax about travelling around, and especially at night.

Gastly. Gastly everywhere.

Breath of the Weavile

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how similar in appearance Pokemon Legends Arceus is to the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. Because does, in fact, look very similar.

That similarity, however, is only pixel deep. The movement, gameplay, and flow of the game is entirely its own Ultra Beast. I’ve not played a game quite like Pokemon Legends Arceus before. In terms of a Pokemon game, this level of departure from formula is, well, astonishing.

The game isn’t fully open world (good), but more of a heavily expanded Wild Area of Crown Tundra type deal. There’s a fair few invisible walls, and which I say purely because of habit as the walls are visible to the point of obscuring everything in a horrible pink haze when you try to fly out of bounds on a glorious psychic eagle. 

Just like real life, right?

Framerates get a bit iffy in some circumstances. Mass outbreaks of detailed Pokemon and some draw distance issues can be irksome, but bearable. Other graphical glitches like collision issues are mostly funny, like when someone’s foot kept vibrating during a cutscene like an off-brand Sonic the Hedgehog. 

But these are minor Beautiflies in the ointment, and I’m struggling to find any real complaints.

Arcanine and a half out of Ten

Some technical limitations are all that pulls Pokemon Legends Arceus down, and I’m pretty confident they could be fixed in a patch or two. 

With a wholly fresh take on the franchise formula, a super listenable soundtrack, and content for days, Pokemon Legends Arceus is always going to be a good one. But moreover, it simply works. This is the free roaming, fast paced, risky Pokemon game we’ve been saying we want for decades, and it’s right here in front of us.

I Luvdisc it.

  • Score

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