As a long time Pokémon fan, I’ll pretty much throw my money at just about everything Game Freak sneezes out—except Snap. But, when the team announced Pokémon Legends: Arceus, an open world adventure, let’s just say they had my attention! The game takes us on a trip to the past into the wild verdant, Hisui region, an untouched frontier filled with Pokémon; however unlike the main series games where Pokémon and humans coexist in harmony, the relationship between humans and Pokémon is tenuous at best.
- RPG | Adventure | (Semi)Open World
- Price: $59.99
- ESRB: E
- Where to Play: Nintendo Switch
Action meets RPG as the Pokémon series reaches a new frontier
Get ready for a new kind of grand, Pokémon adventure in Pokémon™ Legends: Arceus, a brand new game from Game Freak that blends action and exploration with the RPG roots of the Pokémon series. Explore natural expanses to catch Pokémon by learning their behavior, sneaking up, and throwing a well-aimed Poké Ball. You can also toss the Poké Ball containing your ally Pokémon near a wild Pokémon to seamlessly enter battle. This new angle on Pokémon gameplay will deliver an immersive, personal experience brought to life by both Pokémon and humans.
Travel to the Sinnoh region of old
Explore the Sinnoh region from the Pokémon Diamond Version and Pokémon Pearl Version games, but long before the events of those titles. In this era, the Sinnoh region is filled with Pokémon living in harsh environments. Set out to create the region’s first Pokédex and discover the secrets of a long-gone time. At the start of your adventure, you can choose Rowlet, Cyndaquil, or Oshawott as your dependable partner. Along the way, a mystery surrounding the Pokémon known as Arceus will begin to unfold.
Pokémon the Isekai adventure!
On paper Pokémon Legends: Arceus is an open world RPG—it bends the gameplay of the main series Pokémon titles with the exploration and action of an adventure game, to create a relatively “new” experience that feels fresh, but still hits on the tried and true Pokémon gameplay mechanics so as not to alienate long time fans. Let’s put a pin in that. Because, in reality, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the isekai Pokémon adventure we never knew we needed and I am here for it.
The game starts with your character being woken up by the call of Poké-Jeezus, Arceus, who pulls you into its special time-space rift to tell you that you have been chosen for a very important mission. Poké-Jeezus then upgrades your cellphone (because why not) and launches you through a void that spits you out into ancient Sinnoh, known locally as the Hisui region. Once there you meet a mysterious stranger; the region’s winter hat wearing professor, Laventon (surprisingly not named after a tree) who gives you a Pokémon partner—in the game you choose between Cyndaquil, Rowlet, and Oshawott—and recruits you for a group of colonizers called the Galaxy Expedition Team.
The team has taken it upon themselves to catalogue and observe all the Pokémon of the Hisui region, and they quickly put you to work exploring the wilds in search of new Pokémon. And that’s pretty much the barebones of it, the bulk of the gameplay involves you running around the Hisui region interacting with Pokémon, updating your Pokédex, and getting to know the various people living in the region. Of course this isn’t a walk in the park as in Soviet Hisui the Pokémon attack you! Okay, bad joke, but in Pokémon Legends: Arceus not every Pokémon is going to want and hop into your Pokéball without putting up a bit of a fight. The game warns you on several occasions that you can in fact die, and trust they are not joking.
This new adventure puts you down in the trenches as you attempt to complete various missions and tasks while avoiding getting literally mauled by wild Pokémon—I tried to pet a cute Buizel early on in my playthrough and let’s just say those little guys are vicious little shits. I’ll be honest, it’s actually kind of fun antagonizing the local Pokémon and dodging their attacks, but you can die so it’s best not to go out of your way to bother them if you can help it. Because you’re pretty much on your own in Hisui, you also have to forage for berries and other items that can be used to craft key items you will need on your journey, Gen II Pokémon fans will remember taking Apricorns to Kurt in Azalea town so he could craft special Pokéballs, well in Legends Arceus you craft your own. The same goes for items like Potions and Revives, and you’ll want to keep a few handy as there aren’t any PokéMarts in Hisui.
Of course this is a Pokémon game so you can battle and catch Pokémon like in the main series games, but both have been modified slightly to facilitate the open world style of Legends Arceus. You actually have to aim and throw Pokéballs at Pokémon you want to catch similar to Pokémon GO; its simple enough to do, even for someone like me who lacks any real coordination when it comes to most first and third person games. The battles have been streamlined to just throwing out your Pokémon and fighting without all those pesky text boxes and dialogue that are the norm in the main series games.
I’m still fairly early on in the game, but even still the Legends Arceus lays the groundwork for an ongoing storyline and mysteries that may prove to be darker than any of the other games to date. The game introduces you to a lot of different characters from the villagers of Jubilife to the members of the Galaxy Expedition Team, to the native Hisuians who respect the land and the Pokemon that live on it. Also, maybe it’s just me, but almost all of the characters you meet are really, really, ridiculously good looking and it’s a shame that there is no dating mechanic in this game, seriously Game Freak dropped the ball. I know I’m not alone in wanting to date Adaman… he is way too fine to just be a side character in a Pokémon game.
Everyone in the game has their own ideologies and motivations—like the Diamond and Pearl clans who worship the almighty Sinnoh a being said to have created the Hisui region. Almost all of the characters you meet have a stake in the fate of the Hisui region and it’s very clear early on that all is not well, that is if the swirling mass of dark clouds and lightning above Mount Coronet is any indication of what’s on the horizon. On top of that, certain sacred Pokémon are going on rampages and attacking people. Is this a coincidence or could this all be connected to Arceus?
Final Verdict: Is Pokemon Legends: Arceus Worth Playing?
Heck yeah! I spent most of my time just running around exploring without any care for the actual in-game objectives and missions, because lets be honest, the Hisui region is gorgeous! With its lush fields and plains and clear waterways, Hisui is exactly what I’d imagine the Pokémon world would look like and I wanted to spend as much time as I could enjoying it. Whether that is peeking out of tall grass at a sleeping Bidoof or running around with a friendly herd of Ponyta, Pokémon Legends: Arceus really captures the vastness of its setting in ways that tapped into my childhood love of the series. There are a lot of new features to discover and enjoy, so I’m definitely going to take my time sussing out the vibe, but as it stands, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a lot of fun!