Pokemon Scarlet and Violet review: Deep stories and deep flaws

Nintendo /

Title: Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet
Developer: Game Freak
Publishers: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch

After deeply digging into Pokemon Scarlet and Violet over the last month I feel like I’m finally able to put my review together. A Pokemon game is, as always, a sum of its parts and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet have a lot of parts. Some of these parts are good and some are bad.

First, we’re going to go ahead and get the bad stuff out of the way. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are flawed in several regards which makes the game a bit disappointing at first.

Graphically, the game’s camera seems to want to sabotage the game. Often you’d throw a Pokeball or engage in battle and, if the Pokemon was small enough or you were on a hill, the camera would clip through the world and show you the massive virtual voice standing below the underside of the super thin polygon you were standing on.

Also, it’s really starting to show the Nintendo Switch’s age. While the world is vast and filled with some interesting areas, a lot of it is rather bland due to the fact that there are minimal trees. For example, I have done many guides on how to find the eight stakes you need to unlock and capture one of the four legendary beasts. And while you might think it is difficult to find one of the mysterious stakes hidden near a tree, it makes it much easier because that tree is more than likely going to be all by itself.

Likewise, because of the limitations caused by having 400 different characters in the game, the NPCs suffer. The majority of the people in town all look nearly identical once you’ve realized there are mostly about eight different NPC pallets the game works with and a lot of them are surprisingly buff women in spartan sandals.

Reportedly there have also been people reporting many glitches where the game breaks and/or crashes. But to be completely honest, I’ve been playing since they came out. I’ve already completed the Pokedex in Scarlet and am working through Violet and it has never happened for me so, take that as you will.

Now for the good.

Going back to graphics, the Pokemon actually have way better textures than I’ve seen in past games. Fuzzy Pokemon actually look like they have fur. Slimy Pokemon look slimy. And Pokemon like Magnemite actually look like they’re made of metal, especially during the day when the sun is reflecting off them. It’s something the game has surprisingly neglected to do for a long time.

Also, while I said the NPCs suffer, the NPCs related to the story have some great expressions. Especially your rival Nemona.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet story path: Victory Road, Path of Legends or Starfall Street?
Nintendo /

I’ve genuinely never seen a character in a Pokemon game as expressive as her. Not only that, but they fixed a lot of problems I had with Hop in Sword and Shield. Spoiler for Sword and Shield, but as you continuously thwart Hop he gets more and more doubtful of his abilities leading to a moment at the end where he just gives up and gets a job. It made me feel terrible. Nemona, with every defeat, gets more and more excited about your growing abilities, having found a friend she can absolutely let loose with since most people are afraid to fight her. It’s positive and fun and I loved it.

Also, Hop had weird pink teeth that creeped me out and Nemona has normal clean whites. It doesn’t seem like it would be a thing but when I had to spend as much time as I did writing guides for Sword and Shield I got really grossed out when every time Hop talked it looked like he had a mouth full of skin tags. Yuck.

The story also needs to be mentioned here. It’s fantastic. There are three main stories in the game. One in which you team up with Arven, a slightly moody Pokemon trainer, as he enlists your help in finding several mythical items called the Herba Mystica. One in which a hacker accesses your phone and tasks you with taking down the various bases of Team Star, a famed gang of delinquents from your school. And the traditional one known as Victory Road where, with Nemona’s encouragement, you take the tried and true Pokemon game path of getting eight gym badges and facing off against the Elite Four.

Pokemon Scarlet - Pokemon Violet - Paradox Pokemon
Nintendo /

Each of these stories has really interesting twists with a good amount of heart and upon completing all three they tie together for one final story arc that absolutely broke my heart with how emotional it was. I won’t spoil it but even for a game with Pokemon backstories as dark as some of the Ghost-types have, this was a DARK twist.

All in all, I genuinely enjoyed my time in the Paldea region. Digging through the story, catching Pokemon, and just seeing what lay around every corner. Was the game flawed? Did it need more time in the oven? Absolutely and I hope Game Freak eventually admits the mistake and patches it. But did I have a blast playing the game from start to finish? Also absolutely.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet (Nintendo Switch) Score: 8.5/10

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet needed to be playtested a lot more before release. There are some genuinely jarring issues, but they don’t take away from the fact that there’s a really fun game here at its core. The storyline is better and more real than almost any Pokemon storyline I’ve seen in years. It’s hard to miss the flaws in this game, but if you’re a fan of the series, it’s far more interesting than it is disappointing and I’m glad I spent my time playing the game.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.