Barely a few months after the release of the remakes of Diamond and Pearl on the Nintendo Switch, the hybrid console will receive this January 28, 2022 another adventure in the lands of Sinnoh. This time, the player will then find himself in an old time when the region was still called Hisui and where humans were afraid of pocket monsters. Between old-fashioned graphics (them too), revolutionary gameplay for the license and colossal content, here is our complete test of Pokémon Legends Arceus.
Genre: Adventure, RPG
Release date: January 28, 2022
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Game Freak
Tested on: Nintendo Switch OLED
Visuals that hurt the eyes, but rich content
Let’s get to the heart of the matter now by automatically answering the questions you’ve probably been asking yourself for weeks. Seeing the various trailers for Pokémon Legends Arceus, many fans thought it was way too ugly. Is this really the case? Can this graphic delay be set aside if the content offered is of high quality? This is what we will see together in this first part of the test.
The graphics once again seem to be Game Freak’s black spot on this new Pokémon installment. The landscapes are flat and the whole is sorely lacking in contrast and depth. And when you think you recognize a desire for flat design or even a Japanese artistic direction (sketches, paintings, writings, etc.) it is damaged by textures that want to be more realistic but fail. We would have liked a more impactful and more assumed DA, but the fact is that the development time will certainly not have allowed us to dwell on this aesthetic aspect. It’s a shame when you know the great gameplay potential behind such a title: with a minimum of beautiful textures, the game could quite simply have been close to perfection. And it’s all the more unfortunate when you see how well the animations have been worked on. Even the chara-design is quite nice and the developers have taken the time to add rain or snow effects to clothing.
In truth, the license has never shone by its graphic aspect but it will be necessary to recognize here a certain laziness at the level of the textures. When you’re a Pokémon fan, you easily forgive this secondary side and value the gameplay instead. But for any new player, accustomed to the sublime artistic direction of Zelda Breath of the Wild (on the same console, let’s remember, in 2017) or to a Xenoblade with solid visuals, the difference is obvious. Be careful though, these are not the same developers or the same ambitions.
Despite everything, it must be said: some areas such as tunnels, caves or beaches are unfortunately less worked than others. The worst being in water areas and sky view when using Hisui’s Guerieagle mount. What a waste to have such a beautiful bird allowing us to freely observe the huge areas and realize that a few meters above the ground nothing is displayed. Imagine a Minecraft world where textures and mobs show up as you go. It’s the same thing in Pokémon Legends Arceus except that this famous render distance is less great. Of course, this is not disturbing on the ground, on the contrary, we explore little by little and discover the creatures that inhabit the region. But, in the air, this is frustrating since we see only a simple decor, textured thoroughly, and it is difficult to locate places of interest, resources or even rare Pokémon. You have to get close enough to do it and then the bird loses all interest.
However, it is quite easy to get used to these flat decors for three reasons: the content will make you quickly forget them, some areas are sumptuous, and thanks to the day/night cycle we sometimes rediscover with pleasure a biome that we had hated a few minutes ago.
After all, the visual judgment of Arceus Legends is far too subjective so let’s focus instead on its gameplay, technique, animations, storyline, and promises.
Is it that empty?
Where are the Pokémon and resources to collect? Rest assured, the game is absolutely not empty, quite the contrary. As we said above, creatures and resources are generated in the scenery as you progress. Thus, it is normal not to see too many Pokémon at once on the ground and it is also not worse since it allows you to capture them without being spotted immediately. No more Max Regrowth allowing us to walk freely in the tall grass, this time we are in search of Pokémon and the joy is immense when we come across a rare or chromatic creature directly in the overworld. There is a significant treasure hunt side to Arceus Legends that feels good.