I am a table top gamer. So why is this the third time I’ve written about video games in a week?
I have not been playing Pokémon Legends: Arceus but I have been watching my wife play it. And it definitely makes an impression.
While I am not an expert in disturbingly wide world of Pokémon, I have played Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Sun, Pokémon Snap and Pokémon Go. And I’ve seen two episodes of the anime. So, I have an idea of how Pokémon works.
And Arceus (I am not going to type out the whole name every time) does shake up the mold. Keep in mind, if you strip away improvements in graphics and refining elements, even I could tell that Yellow (one of the earliest games) and Sun (one of the later games) followed the same formula.
I cannot help but compare Arceus to The Legend of Zelda:Breath of the Wild. That’s because I don’t play a lot of video games and have a very small pool of references. Breath of the Wild, of course, has a vast and sprawling environment, one that you can explore with only a few limitations.
I’m not sure Arceus is a true open world sandbox. As opposed to one giant map, it is made up of admittedlt big zones and you can’t cross from one zone to another. Still, it’s a lot more open than any Pokémon game I’m aware of. You are much more engaged with the actual world and interacting with the environment. (I love the fact the _human_ can hide in the tall grass)
The most interesting part of the environment is, as you’d hope it would be, Pokémon. While this is the not the first time we’ve seen them as an actual part of the biome (Pokémon Snap has done that very well twice) or free roaming Pokémon, it’s still a step away from the old formula.
This is the first time in a video game that nice seen Pokémon attacking humans. (I know it’s happened in movies and cartoons) Pokémon basically have every super power in the book. Actually having them try to kill you is scary and a welcome addition to the experience.
I probably approach video games from my origins as a table top RPGer. What is the world and how can I interact with it? Can I create my own narrative on top of the one that’s been bundled into the game?
Arceus isn’t there yet but it’s closer than any other Pokémon game I’ve seen.