Pokemon Legends: Arceus Review

February 3, 2022

Pokemon Legends: Arceus takes trainers to the Hisui region to explore a new expansive open world filled with both new and familiar Pokemon to battle, survey, research, and most importantly – catch. After falling out of the sky, you’ll soonl find yourself enthralled in the issues and requests of the people of Jubilife Village, a quaint Japanese-style town, before being tasked to save the entire region. While this new game from Game Freak serves as an origin story for Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, you won’t find any Pokemon Gyms or Pokemon Centers in Hisui, it’s just you, your Pokemon, and a whole heap of fun.

Pokemon Legends Arceus

Kicking off your adventure, Pokemon Legends: Arceus has eight diverse character designs to choose from, and you can then create your name before joining the Galaxy Team as a member of the Survey Corps. The region has never had a Pokemon trainer like you before, and a lot of its inhabitants are scared to travel outside of Jubilife, fearing they will be attacked by wild Pokemon. It’s your job to complete the Hisui region’s first ever Pokedex while bringing peace to the region and solving the mystery of how you ended up there in the first place.

With every new Pokemon game comes new starter Pokemon and Arceus lets you choose from Rowlet (grass type/flying type), Cyndaquil (fire type) and Oshawatt (water type). This will be your first new Pokemon but it certainly won’t be your last. There are 242 unique Pokemon in the Hisui region, but there are also different types of each Pokemon. Arceus introduces Alpha Pokemon, new larger Pokemon with red eyes that are tougher in battle and often a much higher level than other Pokemon nearby. Alphas look truly formidable when summoned in battle, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some players choose to use them exclusively.

Pokemon Legends Arceus

Speaking of battles, Arceus introduces a whole new way to play Pokemon, and it may well be the best thing that’s ever happened to the franchise. We remember catching ‘em all in Pokemon Red, the first 150 (or 151, 152, depending on who’s counting), playing on an imported Japanese copy … in Japanese. Back then, and over the years, we’ve absolutely yearned for a Pokemon game where you can explore the open world, throwing Pokeballs or at unsuspecting Pokemon, engaging them in battles, catching or defeating them, and then moving on in the world. In Pokemon Legends: Arceus you can do just that. No longer do you trawl through tall grass. Now tall grass is your friend. You’re almost expected to hide in tall grass and sneak up on Pokemon in the wild. It’s like the complete opposite of the original games, and it’s fantastic. Arceus even has summonable mounts which we won’t get into as we don’t want to spoil too much, but exploring Hisui becomes much more enjoyable as you play through the game. We hope Game Freak sticks to this style of gameplay as they work on their next main Pokemon game, as it will potentially be the franchise’s best seller if they do.

Each Pokemon you catch has its own effort levels which can be improved with the use of Grit items that you mostly obtain by releasing other unwanted Pokemon, and Pokemon will also have different genders and natures which the most hardcore of trainers will want to perfect. Combining these features with shiny and Alpha Pokemon, and suddenly the game becomes a lot more complex. While multiplayer battles isn’t currently on the agenda for Arceus, trainers can still trade with their friends via Nintendo Online or offline with two Nintendo Switch consoles and two copies of the game.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus places a large focus on your Pokedex, and you’ll find yourself spending more time catching and battling Bidoofs and Starlys than you thought you would. Each Pokemon has its own Pokedex requirements with everything from catching and battling to feeding, catching large specimens, catching unalert, catching at night, etc. A typical expedition in Arceus involves you catching a bunch of Pokemon and then reporting back to Professor Laventon to update your Pokedex and level up your star rating within the Galaxy Team. Your star rating is your Pokemon level rating, so controlling the highest level Pokemon requires you to complete a lot of your Pokedex. This new feature made us want to catch ‘em all even more than before, and is a great way to get to know the variety of Pokemon in the Hisui region, including Hisuian varieties of Pokemon you already know.

The Jubilife Village is filled with shops and houses to explore, and Arceus gets pretty customisable when it comes to how you look with hairstyles and clothes unlocking throughout your playthrough. There are several stores where you can spend your money, though we found most of the initial cash flow is best spent on expanding your satchel size so that you can carry more items. Jubilife Village is where you can rest and view your Pokemon in a large pasture, but you can also do these at any of the campsites around Hisui, albeit you won’t actually see your Pokemon in the pasture. Speaking of which, the Pokemon storage menu is easy to use and quite simplistic, so much so that while there’s a search by category feature, there’s no ability to automatically sort them, leaving you to manually move every Pokemon throughout the menus. This makes it quite hard to know which duplicates you have until you figure out your own system of keeping track, and something Game Freak might want to consider in an update or in future games.

Other new features in Pokemon Legends: Arceus include a space-time distortion which is a large dome that opens up in random locations around the region and offers challenging battles with all kinds of Pokemon as well as unique items. The distortions don’t hang around forever though, so if you want to catch ‘em all, it’s a good idea to check them out in your expeditions. Another new feature is an outbreak which will appear on your overview map, revealing that a large amount of a random Pokemon has spawned in a random location. These are most likely going to be a great place to complete your Pokedex for that Pokemon, find an Alpha, and maybe even find a shiny.

Arceus handles well in both handheld and docked mode, seamlessly switching between the two. We did notice some minor frame-rate issues in the Jubilife Village when the game was in docked mode, but otherwise the game was still fine to play on the largest of TV’s. While the Joy-cons are great in their own way, games that require trigger mashing have an increased difficulty with the joy-con, so we recommend using an official Pro Controller, or checking out one of the officially licenced HORI Split Pad Pros. In fact, there’s a limited edition Arceus themed one launching alongside the game – just keep in mind that they aren’t wireless so you can only use them attached to the Switch.

Pokemon Legends Arceus

Visually, Pokemon Legends: Arceus leaves a lot to be desired. Luckily if you’re like us, you are likely entering the game with a wild sense of imagination and this can help you get over the muddy textures, poor draw distance, and frankly ugly biomes. Comparing Arceus to a game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which launched… let’s check… FIVE YEARS AGO, we think Game Freak could have invested a little more effort into the graphics department. The space-time rift is always menacing in the background, reminding you of where you fell from and what’s at stake. We found this to be a nice feature of an otherwise low visual quality game. It is great that we get a huge open world to explore and the seamless battles and Pokemon catching is simply the best we’ve ever seen in the franchise, but this game isn’t winning any awards for how it looks.

For a franchise as big as Pokemon, we’re continually surprised by the lack of voice acting representation. Pokemon Legends: Arceus has a great story but it takes a long time to tell it, and we found the text dialogue to be probably the least enjoyable part of the game. There’s just too much of it and it drags from one character to the next, explaining their opinion on the current situation, and offering cliche morals along the way, and there’s no reason why at least key characters like Commander Kamado, Captain Cyllene and Professor Laventon couldn’t at least have voice acting in the cut-scenes. It would have also been nice if the Pokemon made their actual Pokemon sounds, and also if the flute played different tunes for the different mounts.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is a bold new adventure for both fans of the franchise and for Game Freak. The developers are testing out some new features that will most likely be implemented in the next generation Pokemon game, and we are very excited to see what that will look like in the future. The main story takes around twenty hours to play through, offering some challenging battles towards the end but players of all ages shouldn’t have much of an issue finding their way through each region, particularly because it won’t let you advance if your Pokedex isn’t up to scratch. While Arceus has its flaws, the overall appeal to battle and catch ‘em all still makes for a stellar addition to the Pokemon franchise and a must-have purchase for the Nintendo Switch.

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Pokemon Legends: Arceus on Nintendo Switch with review provided by the publisher. For more information, head to the official website.

Pokemon Legends Arceus


- Seamless open-world combat
- A large world to explore
- The most fun Pokemon game we’ve played in a while.


- No sorting function for your Pokemon in storage
- Frame-rate issues mostly noticeable in docked mode in the town
- A LOT of dialogue for a game with no voice acting.

Overall Score: