Scarlet Review

Duncan Schiller, MVC writer

A new pokemon Tarountula hanging from a tree.
One of the raid Pokemons being caught.
A Paradox Pokemon called Brute Bonnet.

The results of a 6 star Tera raid, where the player has defeated the Pokemon, Ditto

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet versions were released a few months ago, and the hype surrounding them was well deserved. The new region of Paldea is a large, open-world map that the player can freely roam, completing challenges along the way and catching a large variety of Pokémon to add to their team. These new games are very interesting, with all of the new features they add.
The immense map size of Pokémon Scarlet is both its strongest and weakest point. It contains snow covered mountains, flat deserts, a massive lake and even a bamboo forest. While the variety of encounters and terrains is nice, it can also be overwhelming. When beginning the main story, the player is presented with 18 objectives to complete, and they are spread out all over the map. This can be confusing to new players, as they are given no real instruction as to where they can and cannot go. Unfortunately, that led to me wandering aimlessly for a good portion of my playthrough, which was a bit aggravating. In addition, the textures in the environment get repetitive, and do not look amazing, the rocky texture used for mountains gets weirdly stretched sometimes, making it distorted. For the 60 USD price tag, while the map size is certainly impressive, the graphics in the environment could certainly have had more love put into them, they are a bit crusty right now.
The main focus of a Pokémon game is the Pokémon themselves, and with 107 new Pokémon to encounter, Game Freak certainly delivered on that end. However, as interesting as some of the new Pokémon are, some are extremely underwhelming. Take Flamigo for example: it is just a flamingo, and there is nothing interesting about it. Also, a lot of the new Pokémon are very annoying, being either very small and hard to see or aggressive in the wild.
The Pokémon that steal the spotlight in these games are the paradox Pokémon. These are Pokémon that come from the past or future, located in the center of the map, in a spot known as the Great Crater of Paldea. These paradox Pokémon take the form of either ancient or robot versions of preexisting Pokémon, and I personally prefer the ancient versions. The paradox Pokémon were supposed to be a big selling point of the games, but players can only encounter them once they have beaten the game, which I feel takes away from their intended purpose.
The storylines in Pokémon games are usually very hit-or-miss. Pokémon Black and White, for example, have debatably the best story of any Pokémon game ever released. Meanwhile, Pokémon Sword and Shield does not have much of a story, with it all being packed into the end, feeling rushed. I would say that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet versions definitely do have a story they tell, but it is not very well developed, consisting of about twelve cutscenes that are about 30 seconds in length each. These cutscenes have stiff animations, awkward scenes due to a general lack of emotion in the characters, and are simply not good enough to really draw the player in and make them truly interested with the story. The plot twists are also very predictable, which makes the story elements even more underwhelming.
Pokémon Sword and Shield introduced Pokémon raids, where up to four players can take part in a dungeon-style series of Pokémon battles, where they battle strong Pokémon to catch, including Pokémon that are not usually available in the wild areas to catch. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet brought them back somewhat, as tera raids. These are battles against strong Pokémon. The concept sounds nice, but the execution is horrible. The balancing of the elements of the raids are practically nonexistent, and there is now a timer, which, if it runs out, ends the raid.
The first major issue I have with these raids is the CPUs. If a party does not have all four players for a raid, then CPUs will join to assist the players. However, the CPU code is abysmal, and they are limited to a very small pool of Pokémon to choose from, with repetitive movesets and abilities. Plus, whenever a Pokémon on the player’s team faints, the timer shoots down a huge chunk, so they can absolutely make the player lose the battle.
The second issue I have with the raid battles are the cutscenes that play during the raid. These would be fine, albeit annoying, if it were not for the fact that during the unskippable cutscenes the timer continues to tick down. Most of the cutscenes are about four to six seconds in length, and these small amounts of time add up quickly when bosses that have higher than four star ratings start to play upwards of five of these cutscenes.
My third qualm with the raids is how the movesets are structured. For example, in the Drifblim event raid, the first stage was a cakewalk, but then as soon as the raid boss activates its shield, it gains the move “strength sap,” which allows the boss to lower the player’s attack stat and heal itself. So, during the battle, it will just use this move once and then heal back to full health, which makes it pretty much impossible to defeat. Overall, these raid battles are inconsistent, laggy and a waste of time if all four players do not pull their weight.
Even though I am harsh on Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, many of these issues will most likely be fixed in future updates, since the games have been receiving constant support since release, with many bugs being patched. Although the raid battle mechanics are annoying, they are not required for gameplay progression. Plus, most of these issues are personal preferences, so if you like Pokémon and can afford the $60 price tag, go out and buy it. It is highly replayable, and shiny hunting has never been easier.