Pokémon Scarlet review: It’s a buggy mess and still one of the best Pokémon games


SINCE the launch of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, fans have consistently been talking about the numerous technical faults of the game.

Pokémon will spawn in walls, shinies are almost impossible to spot, it lags horrendously, crashes, and has some funny visual bugs to boot.

Let’s Go mode helps you level up quicker.

There is no denying that Game Freak’s most ambitious Pokémon game to date is riddled with technical errors which could affect fans’ enjoyment of the game.

Yet, it is still a step in the right direction in the series, which since Generation 5 has only served to disappoint fans.

Pokémon was stuck in a cycle. The story was virtually the same, tired, ‘stop the bad guys from taking over the world’ plotline.

And whether they were called Totems or Gym leaders, you always took down eight of them and then faced a gauntlet of tough trainers.

Whatever certain things were renamed, the formula was the same, and then Pokémon Legends: Arceus came along, its popularity making clear that the players wanted something fresh.

For the first time there is an actual open world, and you can choose the path you take.

You can take on Titan Pokémon like in Arceus, for HM-style movement options, use the new Let’s Go battles to take down Team Star Bases, and of course, you can take on the eight gym leaders and defeat the Elite Four.

The story is more character-driven than ever before, as you learn more about each of your partners and the struggles they’ve gone through.

It’s surprisingly deep character writing for a team that often has motivations as deep as ‘I wish my daughter was prettier’.

All the stories converge to a satisfying point, where you enter a new area full of new, interesting, and high-level Pokémon.

In terms of battling it still suffers from the same issue. It tries to make things challenging enough for those who know not to use Shadow Ball on an Alakazam, and simple enough for those that will click anything that’s super-effective.

It doesn’t really succeed here, and remains firmly in the easy camp.

But with a number of new items, abilities and signature moves introduced, it has given hardcore fans new ways to steamroll through.

While looking at the new roster of Pokémon, I was left disappointed; having now played with them, there are a number of designs I love.

Whether it’s Pokémon focused on signature moves such as Hyper Drill, Rage Fist, or Gigaton Hammer, or new abilities like Supreme Overlord, Zero to Hero, or Good as Gold, there is a lot here you’ll want to try out.

This has made some of them ridiculously strong, but it will at least make for an interesting competitive scene, that’s not dominated by a single Pokémon, like last Generation and Zacian.

The convoluted evolution methods appear here to stay, and don’t offer too much when the community collectively cracks them within hours of release, but offers interesting puzzles for those who avoid all spoilers.

While I’ve personally not been spending a whole load of time making sandwiches, these can also offer boosts to those struggling, or those who are hunting for the last Pokémon to complete the dex.

The new generation is all about options. Ability Capsules, Bottle Caps, and Mints are all freely available, so you don’t have to grind for a competitive ‘mon, you can build one instead.

This all helps to remove the tedious grinding from the game as you look for the monster with the perfect mix of stats, ability and nature.

Speaking of the perfect Pokémon, the new gimmick Terastilization offers more interesting opportunities in battle. 

It’s not always the best option to alter your Pokémon’s type, as it changes its weaknesses and resistances, and can also remove the same-type attack bonus.

This means that, unlike Mega-Evolution or Gigantamax, there is more complex strategy for when to use it.

The new Tera-Raid battles also allow players to get strong and interesting Pokémon, in a way that varies from the norm.

Paldea is enormous, and while not always the most visually interesting, the different environments offer different Pokémon to find and catch.

There are always more nooks and crannies to find and explore, giving you incentive to play more and see every inch.

My main issue with the new game remains a technical one. Basic options usually in mainline games are missing.

You can’t change to set mode, or turn off the battle animations. When combined with the lag, the time it takes for multi-hit moves and Pokémon abilities to be explained, the pacing of battles can be exhausting.

Sometimes the animations to start a battle can be 30 seconds alone before you’ve ever chosen the first move. This feels unforgivable in a game where you are tasked with catching at least 400 beasts.

There are still changes that need to be made to bring Pokémon in line with the modern era. 

However, for the first time in four generations, Game Freak has proven it’s willing to stray from its tried and tested formula with promising results.

What we’re left with is a game that has taken a number of important steps in the right direction, even if it’s not made its way to the final destination.

Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.