Pokemon Scarlet and Violet seemingly gave fans of the Pokemon franchise exactly what they’ve been asking for since the release of Red & Blue in 1996. It’s an open world experience where you get to live the life of a Pokemon trainer and see Pokemon in their natural habitat.
So, after longing for this kind of game for so many years, did Scarlet and Violet live up to the enormous amount of hype it generated? In this review of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, I aim to answer that exact question.
Here’s my full review of Pokemon Violet and Pokemon Scarlet, looking at the gameplay, the main story, and the new mechanics.
The first thing I’ll look at is the gameplay. This is the most important factor of pretty much any game but is especially relevant when it comes to Pokemon.
This game takes the Pokemon Legends: Arceus format of open world exploration, and builds on it to the point where you can literally go anywhere you want at any time.
In Legends you were somewhat restricted as you had five main areas to explore that you had to unlock by progressing through the story.
Now you can go to any area you want, straight away, meaning in theory you could go and challenge the last Gym leader right at the beginning of the game. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s possible.
The only thing I will say is that, along with the returning features from Legends, we also got the return of low frame rates when running around. Unfortunately the Switch is a pretty limited console compared to the ambitions of Scarlet and Violet, so this can make for some pretty dire gameplay.
Sometimes, you’ll experience stuttering when playing, along with rendering issues, as you’ll be looking into what looks like vast, open grass until a Pokemon or trainer pops in out of thin air. It’s frustrating when it’s happening, but it’s not game-breaking by any means.
Aside from that, the gameplay is free flowing and dynamic. The battling is similar to Legends with you being able to walk around during the battle to get a different angle of the action. This maintains an immersive feel and is a big step up from previous battling styles.
Another thing that has been kept from Pokemon Legends: Arceus is the use of Pokemon for HM purposes, without having a physical HM that you need to waste a move slot on.
In Scarlet and Violet, you are quickly joined by the box art Legendary, and they become your all-in-one HM machine. You’re able to ride on them through water, on land, and in the air, which makes for a seamless and immersive experience.
Now I’m going to look at the storyline of the game as this is something that Scarlet and Violet evidently tried to take to a new level.
In past generations, you had a very linear and one dimensional storyline. You fought your way through all 8 Gym leaders, then defeated the Elite 4. Each game had a subplot with the villainous team of that generation, but it was very much something they dropped in at various stages for you to get past then forget about.
In Pokemon Violet and Scarlet, this has all changed. You now have the choice of three different storylines to complete in any order you wish.
Firstly you have the main storyline, which features 8 classic Gym badges and a battle with the Elite 4. Even beating the first Gym can be tricky, so you’ll need to train hard for each one.
Then you have the treasure hunt storyline, consisting of finding mystical herbs dotted around Paldea. This has you finding and defeating 5 different Titan Pokemon (which is a new feature I’ll talk about later) which feel similar to the noble Pokemon in PLA.
Finally, you have the Team Star storyline, which has you defeating 5 different bosses in order to take down the evil team of Generation 9.
The cool thing about this is that you can tackle any of them you want, whenever you want.
You can go and try to complete the full Team Star storyline at the beginning, but you may struggle as the level scaling will be totally off. If you complete two of the three storylines first, the last one will be very easy due to the level of your Pokemon.
The best way to go about it is to complete all three simultaneously, so it is consistently a challenge. You also have more freedom when doing this as you can do each section of the storyline in whatever order you like. You could fight the first Gym leader, then take on the third boss of Team Star, and so on.
It’s also worth noting that you get a badge of sorts for each of the Titan Pokemon and Team Star bosses that you defeat, which means there are 18 to collect overall.
What I personally like is that every single badge you collect requires you to battle a different kind of Pokemon. The battles all use one of the 18 types within the game.
This makes for really diverse gameplay and forces you into planning your team more strategically. There are so many routes you could take to build a well rounded party, and that’s great, replayability has always been a strength of the Pokemon franchise. Scarlet and Violet are no exception.
Finally, I’ll look at the heap of new features that Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet have.
The main thing to mention is the Tera Pokemon who can transform into a Tera form in battle to become more powerful and even in certain cases, change their type.
There are specific Tera Pokemon you can catch through raids that will completely change type once you put them in their Tera form, making for unpredictable and fun battles.
The way to get them out of their Tera form is by dealing plenty of damage to them, so it’s not overly complicated or fiddly to deal with.
The only slightly annoying thing about it is that you need a special orb to use the move. After you’ve used a Tera form it will need to charge up again, but it’s worth it.
Also, I think if they can get the designs looking right, Tera Pokemon cards will look incredible. The crystal-like design with some of the colors used could make for some beauties.
Another feature that’s been added into the game is the ability to send your Pokemon into battle on its own. This might sound weird, but it allows you to farm XP quickly. This can help you level faster and cut down on grinding.
Pokemon can also be sent out to collect materials, then these materials can be used to craft all sorts of valuable items, with the main focus being TMs. Even though they are single use, you can craft as many as you like.
You can still find TMs dotted around the world, though. You will know if you find one as it will glow gold rather than red like other items.
The feature that I’m definitely most excited to play is the co-op mode, where you can invite up to 4 people to play at a time and roam around together. As soon as I find some mates, I’ll be playing straight away.
This is an incredible addition to the game in so many ways. You can battle together in raids against Tera Pokemon, or just explore the region with a lot of freedom. You’re not required to remain really close to your friends while playing, which is great.
I think where it’s most beneficial, though, is completing the Pokedex, as you can visit a friend’s region who’s playing the other version and catch all the exclusives you otherwise wouldn’t be able to on your version. This is great for people who weren’t sure whether to pick Pokemon Violet or Pokemon Scarlet.
This feature makes playing together both fun and meaningful, which is an ideal fit for the Pokemon franchise. You can even set up picnics wherever you want around the map to chill out and tend to your party.
Picnics are great for boosting Friendship levels with your team, which is essential if you want to get Pokemon like Jigglypuff who has a Pokemon before it in the evolutionary chain with a specific evolution requirement.
There’s a lot going on in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, and fans of the franchise are sure to find it incredibly refreshing.
With that, the price of £50 or $60 for this game is more than justified by the sheer amount of content you get. I’d absolutely recommend getting one of these games. It is worth looking at the technical issues that the series has, but I don’t think these are game-breaking by any means.
It’s the perfect blend of the elements that made Legends such a breath of fresh air and it has the nostalgic feeling of the mainline games. If 12 year old Ferg could have seen what was to come in the Pokemon franchise, he’d have lost his mind.
As an overall rating, I’m going to give Pokemon Scarlet and Violet a 9/10. It’s not perfect and has definite performance issues, but it’s another massive step in the right direction from Game Freak.