It was a good thing this game was announced when it did. Pokémon Direct had slashed my hopes for a remake in the style of other remakes in the Pokémon series for Diamond and Pearl, instead making one designed to just be the original with different graphics. Given the advances Gen 8 had made I had imagined some interesting things of what a Gen 4 remake could have been only to see them dashed, fortunately right after that the true next instalment in Pokémon was revealed.
I’ve been playing this game a lot since it came out, and I’m here to give you a review. But first if you haven’t played it yet and don’t want spoilers please skip this review as I can’t talk about it too much without giving away spoilers right from the start.
You still reading? ok.
Pokémon Legends Arceus is a Isekai. Please read this article here if you don’t know what that is Sgathaich: What is Isekai? You are sent back in time by the Pokémon god Arceus back several centuries back to when Sinnoh was called Hisui and only had one built up settlement. The land is harsh and people treat you first with distrust since unlike most people you have no fear of Pokémon.
This is a very different Pokémon game. For one, Pokémon can attack you but also you catch Pokémon without sending out your own Pokémon. This is not a game about getting a bunch of badges and facing a champion. Instead catching and learning about Pokémon is the main objective even the point of catching multiples of the same Pokémon, yes catching Pokémon is the core thing, you do not battle.
After a tutorial opening that took a decent amount of time you’re able to start your adventure proper. You go out into an open area, a very large one with Pokémon all out in the wild and open. You need to craft or buy your own supplies (though crafting can get you things earlier than buying) while capturing Pokémon and working to complete the original Pokedex. This is done in several ways. Ranging from simply catching lots of the same Pokémon, using key attacks over and over to some more unusual kinds like feeding the Pokémon or stunning them.
Leveling up the Pokedex is also required in game as it’s what raising your ranking which you will need to be at certain stages to enter some of the later zones. You see while you explore big open areas that’s split into 5 major zones. These are unlocked as you play through the main story and gain the aid of the major Pokémon of each area. One, that will help you explore the region more such as allowing you to cross water. And one, that must be battle in a boss fight that is more about avoiding the Pokémon’s attack as… well it’s attacking YOU!.
The fact that the game isn’t about battling and instead completing the Pokedex means you can’t battle other players, and while you can trade with other people you don’t need to. There is no requirement to trade with people to complete the Pokedex. This game is entirely self-contained, minus bonus quests if you have the Gen 4 remakes of Gen 8 games. So that gives a more umph to complete it. Many times I would go with a clear goal of catching something or getting resources only to end up doing something completely different due to a twinkle in the distance, discovering surprising hidden gems.
This game is a very refreshing take on the Pokémon franchise. Over the top battle gimmicks are gone and many elements of battles simplified, bar the new agile and strong stances which do add an additional level of tactics and difficulty to the game. In fact it’s probably the hardest Pokémon’s been for a long time, and for the most part that’s all organic difficulty… bar the fact it should really be clear on how the EV values work in this game and how you raise them since most will come off thinking it’s the same as classic games.
Arceus shows what the franchise can do by drifting away from the over used protag goes and tries to become the best battle in the franchise or over fixation on the multiplayer. I am happy that with its success there should be more reason to do more like this rather than just maintain a status quo over and over.