Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a Great Breath of Fresh Air

Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Gamefreak's gamble of changing up the formula in this experiment game is a huge success!
The Cozy Nerd | February 8, 2022 Video Games

Ah Pokémon! You've gotta catch them all. And with this latest game, not only can you catch them all without having to trade with others, but you can go out into the open world of Pokémon, see the creatures roaming, and make decisions on whether you want to catch them, battle them, or run away (which, at lower levels, you will definitely do)!

For a little over 25 years, the formula for the Pokémon games have realitvly been the same: Walk around in the grass, encounter a random Pokémon, battle and catch. Gather 8 badges, stop a Team of some kind, fight an Elite 4, and win. With Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the formula has been updated. Now you do have full 3D roaming around both inside the town, buildings, and out in the unknown, ancient world of Hisui. Out in the world, Pokémon roam around, and how you catch them is by either battling them, weakening them like previous games, or by sneaking up and throwing Poké-Balls at them. Sometimes, they won't fully capture, or as I've come to find out, the higher evolved ones would need a little coaxing. That's where things like crafting food and using berries to soothe them come in handy.  There are also more powerful versions of the wild Pokémon called Alpha Pokémon, which are like mini-bosses out in the wild. They are tough, and will take your whole team and using your smarts to capture them. You are also able to traverse the world by riding certain Pokémon that you unlock throughout the game, from land to sea to air to sheer cliff climbing. What's also great about this is that as you unlock different ones, you'll be granted access to different area's in the world that were once out of reach, making it worth going back to previous area's and explore.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus - Scene 2
Pokemon Legends: Arceus - Scene 2

Without giving away major story points, you start off as a kid from a far-off land, dropped into the ancient world of Hisui (Hisui is the area of the Pokémon world that is known as Sinnoh in the Diamond and Pearl games). Here, people are really weary of Pokémon, and you agree to help the Professor (who, by the way, is one of the weirdest looking Professors ever!) to create the very first Pokédex! And it's not just catching Pokémon; you need to battle them, see them do specific moves, catch them under certain conditions, etc. to fully unlock their data in the Pokédex. And while you are out filling your Pokédex, other things happen that you as a stranger in this strange land, can help.

When you boil right down to it, the overall experience is the same: battle Pokémon, fight a boss, and move into the next area. But the way it's all presented makes it feel different enough and fun enough to make it feel refreshing. The battle system is also updated: you can now master moves, allowing you to do a move that is Agile (less strength, but may grant you the ability to go twice in a row), or Strong (more strength, but may open yourself up for more attacks). Gamefreak was smart to allow you to be able see the turn order between your Pokémon and the wild ones, and you can see if doing a move that is Agile or Strong will really effect the turn order. Also during battles, you can freely move around the battle, and even get in the way of an attack and get hit (though it's not recommended). Some moves, like Calm Mind or Nasty Plot, are a little bit different: instead of only buffing your Physical or Special Attack or Defense, it will buff both Physical and Special (and moves that lower ones will do both as well). The status effects are a little bit different too; once a battle is over, any status effects are gone. Both of these kinds of changes are nice in my opinion, though the change for status effects not holding over after battles makes items that remove statuses kind of pointless for me.

While this game has a lot of new or refreshing features, it is missing some of the core things that we come to expect from main Pokémon games; mainly breeding and random online battles and trading are very absent from the game. Because we are missing these features, and the story does feel a little bit short compared to other Pokémon games, I really do feel that Pokémon Legends: Arceus is an experiment by Gamefreak and Pokémon as a whole to see if this kind of gameplay will be popular. For me, this is a lot more fun and immersive than any of the previous Pokémon games have been! I really loved Pokémon Sword and Shield, and having the Wild Area's were great! But Pokémon Legends: Arceus to me is a league above. Sure, there are graphical problems: clipping, draw distance, poor transparancy, etc., but the gameplay keeps you in and holds you to where those problems are not overshadowing your enjoyment.

All in all, if you're a Pokémon fan, I can't recommend enough that you go and play Pokémon Legends: Arceus! I really do hope that the reviews for this, and the sales numbers will help Gamefreak take what they've learned here, polish it up, and have the core games follow the suit.