Pokémon Legends: Arceus

“Pokémon Legends: Arceus” is the latest main entry in the “Pokémon” series. Acting as a prequel set hundreds of years before the events of previous titles, the game presents an intriguing look into the legacy of the series while also laying the groundwork for its future.

The game takes place in the Hisui region, with the story being set centuries before it became known as Sinnoh. As the player, you are tasked with helping assemble the very first Pokédex and forging the bonds between Pokémon and their human partners in the process.

Ever since the franchise first saw release on Game Boy in Japan in the year 1996, it has been a fixture among Nintendo’s biggest franchises. Though the basic concept has undergone eight main generations of titles, the core gameplay has remained largely consistent through the years (talk persists of the currently-in-development Generation IX). When this title was initially revealed in February 2021, there was considerable hype along with skepticism that the series could pull off the shift in gameplay shown off.

Time to put these concerns to rest – the game not only does a fantastic job of honoring the franchise’s legacy, but its mixture of action-role playing game and open world sandbox adventure makes for a highly-rewarding experience for newcomers and true believers alike. While the redesigned capture controls and battle systems do have an admitted learning curve, once you get them down, they’re some of the best innovations the series has seen in years. The world-building crafts a living, breathing take on the Sinnoh region in ancient times where the exploration borrows both visibly and subtly from titles such as Rockstar’s open-world games (including “Red Dead Redemption” and the “Grand Theft Auto” series) and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”

Visually, the art direction is a sight to behold. Showing just how far the series has come in terms of graphics since the days of the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color installments, the game is rife with environments full of dynamic weather and some of the best lighting and color since the main series shifted to installments in full 3D. The cel-shaded style invokes the look and feel of classic calligraphy paintings – perfect for a game heavily-influenced by ancient Japanese art.

Overall, “Pokémon Legends: Arceus” is highly recommended as the next evolution in Pokémon, presenting a highly-rewarding action-RPG experience that’s as thrilling as it is ambitious. It’s easily a must-buy for “Pokémon” fans and Nintendo Switch owners everywhere.

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company

Platform: Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E

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