A breath of fresh air is slowly setting in on the Pokémon video game franchise and we don’t mind. Admittedly, changing some mechanics and removing some major features from the license (held items, IVs) will make some people shudder, but sometimes change is good.
Fluidity above all
The biggest quality of Legends Arceus is none other than its extreme fluidity in terms of gameplay. Certainly, we will note some technical problems with, sometimes, jerky Pokémon appearances and slight drops in FPS, but nothing too bad. On the portable mode of the OLED, the title does not seem so “ugly” as that while docked on the TV, we will necessarily be much more aware of the graphic and technical defects. Be that as it may, LPA remains a marvel of fluidity from every point of view.
The change of mount, for example, is done on the fly either manually by clicking on a quick button, or automatically when going from land to water for example (a bit like cycling in Sword and Shield). In terms of handling, the management of the Joy-Con and their various buttons is well managed. Beware, however, of the Joy-Con drift which will sometimes prevent you from correctly targeting a creature in the distance. The best innovation will remain, for us, that of uninterrupted gameplay. No need to wait long seconds for dialog boxes to open to warn us of gaining experience, leveling up a Pokémon or learning a new ability. Here, everything is done directly on the screen while the player can continue his exploration. Better still, it is possible to perform several actions at the same time: you throw a first Ball at a Pokémon to be captured, you send your Partner to look for berries in a tree, you throw a second Ball at another Pokémon in the distance, and everything it at the same time. The player can constantly go about several of his occupations without stopping or being stopped by a wild Pokémon in the tall grass.
And if the graphics are indeed not there, know that Pokémon Legends Arceus nevertheless offers the best attack animations, any game of the license combined. In battle against a wild Pokémon or a trainer, you can move freely to observe its unfolding as you see fit and enjoy the spectacle. Wheel of fire, Hydro-tail or Lunar Power, tons of abilities have been brought up to date, as has the Pokémon evolution animation. A truly enticing work that contrasts all the more with the laziness of the textures and reminds us how perfect this game could have been.
Much more serious and challenging content
Do you miss starting a fight several times because your Pokémon aren’t strong enough? Having to choose strategically between the Fast Style and the Powerful Style to have the advantage over your opponent, to compose your team with intelligence to succeed or to choose the right abilities. That’s what Arceus Legends offers on the combat side. The management of attacks is also a real pleasure: it is possible to teach several of them at once to a creature while replacing others with a single click. On the strategy side, this opus obviously does not seem to be the best candidate: firstly because the competitions will remain on Sword and Shield until further notice, then because Legends Arceus does not offer a multiplayer mode and therefore no fights in line.
Thus, the famous IVs of the license are replaced by the Efforts Value and the required objects no longer exist. However, combat objects are present as well as the nature of Pokémon or Exp candies. These changes do not prevent you from enjoying a well-balanced difficulty throughout the title. First with the Pokémon Barons, these red-eyed creatures much larger and more powerful than their colleagues, or with the few very tough trainer fights. Moreover, LPA also innovates with the possibility, as a player, of being directly knocked out by the creatures that inhabit Hisui. This will earn you a return to square one (bivouac) and the loss of half of your items.
What a joy to be surprised by Pokémon Baron level 40 when our best creature is only at level 15, or to discover a rare Pokémon in front of your eyes a bit like Pokémon GO where everyone was running to catch a wild Charizard in 2016. Note also that the creatures will not be captured so easily. Some will flee immediately if you are spotted, others will be aggressive at the first second and still others will require the use of very special Balls. When it comes to Monarch Pokémon like Chopper, we were a bit disappointed. They are presented to us as a kind of Boss fight where you have to control a huge creature and fight it, but in reality you just have to throw balms on it for two minutes, dodge its tireless repeating patterns and then, for moment, to invoke the help of one of our Pokémon to knock it out And if we have the misfortune of not succeeding in dodging the waves of attacks on the first blow, our character takes damage until pass out. We will then have the choice between starting from the beginning or choosing Easy Mode and picking up where we left off.
It’s also a shame not to have to craft yourself the pacifying balls used to appease the creatures. We could, for example, go in search of the key ingredients for their manufacture but perhaps that would have added long minutes to an already copious lifespan.