Pokemon Violet Review: Incredible Gameplay, Emotional Storytelling but a Disaster with the Visuals

I mean by now it’s no secret that I was planning on getting this game as soon as I first found out about it. I’m an avid fan of Pokemon and so I was super excited to see how the franchise would handle its first truly open-world experience. You are a student of a Pokemon academy and you quickly learn that your goal is to explore the world and find your own treasure within it. How you do that is technically up to you but the game gives you several objectives that you need to obtain. Much like the previous games, one of your goals is to go around the new region of Paldea and collect the eight gym badges to compete for the title of the strongest trainer in the land; however, you also have two additional goals to research the mysterious titan Pokemon and to take down a group called Team Star. The question going into this game has to be if these changes did anything to evolve the franchise to its next stage of evolution.

First I’ll talk about the game’s story because this is where I thought the franchise improved the most with this title. The gym challenge was for the most part the same as it’s always been but the addition of the open-world concept really did numbers to improve that experience. For the first time ever since I started the franchise I actually took the time to plan out how I was going to do the gym challenge. Rather than go in a particular order like the previous games you can go up against any gym at any time which meant I was able to plan battles based on my level and the strengths and weaknesses of my party. I loved feeling the need to take all of this into consideration and the simple change added new depth that I didn’t even know I wanted. The Team Star part of the story also had more depth than I expected as I went into this part with fairly low expectations. The antagonistic teams in previous games more often than not left little of an impression on me but this was a huge exception. I grew to really enjoy my experience with Team Star and found their motivations and their leaders to be very amazing. In fact, it was to the point where I was kind of rooting for them as I continued through the game. Then you have the titan Pokemon storyline which really took me by surprise. I went into this part of the story only curious about the concept of really big Pokemon but instead found really captivating character development and a heartfelt story that nearly drove me to tears. Overall the story was a huge hit with incredible depth, well-developed characters, and a play-at-your-own-pace style that made for a really enjoyable game, but it does have one minor flaw. The game introduces a new battle mechanic for Pokemon called terastaliizing but offers little information about it which I thought was odd. It was a big deal that we ended up knowing almost nothing about even at the very end.

Next, I’ll talk about the gameplay. Battling in pokemon is pretty much the same as it’s always been the ever-enjoyable turn-based combat using various types to your advantage or detriment. However, there are some notable differences such as the ability to Terrastilize which changes your Pokemon to a singular type and enhances any move of that type, now this is interesting because you can completely change your Pokemon to a different type and really mess with any prior knowledge of their original strengths and weaknesses. For example, I found myself up against a Ghost-type Ditto at one point and it wound up being a very confusing battle. It made for a really fun new mechanic for the game. I also really loved how now every Pokemon can be seen in the overworld which was the right next step after they introduced this concept in wild areas in Sword and Shield. Overall the gameplay doesn’t see any major overhauls but that’s fine because what we got was a more fine-tuned version of the gameplay we have grown to love over the years.

However, now we get to the bad which was the graphics and how the game ran. You actually notice the graphic problems of the game very early on as things in the distance move in super slow motion. Normally, I don’t care about the graphics but these were actually bad enough to be rather jarring. The game also glitched a lot with things like invisible Pokemon to the game flat-out crashing. While these things didn’t ruin the experience they did have a notable effect throughout the entire game. The best way to describe how these graphics have an effect there is one town that has a windmill and from a distance the windmill instead of moving continuously stops and moves a bit over and over again. My personal opinion is that the game could use some help from Monolith Soft which I think would solve all of these problems as they are experts in rendering beautiful scenes.

Overall this game was a lot of fun and a big leap forward by adding the open world concept and making a story with very lovable characters; however, the game has so many bugs and graphics problems that it makes for a very big flaw in an otherwise amazing game. Now, this can be fixed with a patch so if that happens I might make an edit to this to see how my opinion changes. The experience as a whole kept what I loved about Pokemon and added some new elements and even improved elements that I thought were really helpful in improving the overall entertainment value of the game. I truly wish I could write this review and not have anything negative to say about it because I did enjoy this game quite a bit but the visuals were problematic even by my generous standards.

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