So, with finally feeling a bit better and just wanting to get it over with, I managed to finally get back to the game. Some things I have learned are that you can aim your ball and catch without using the extreme target which is great if you’re not me and can actually aim with solely a target reticle. I will say, at the very least, I feel more in control to some extent now that I’m not feeling sick. It’s helped make certain things a bit less overwhelming, even if I’m still struggling a bit with it. Unfortunately, as the game went, it felt like each of my nitpicks became bigger and bigger problems and I genuinely stopped having fun. Getting through this game was a chore and I feel bad about it because I feel like everyone I know really liked it. I was repeatedly told how it gets better, it’s fun, and that maybe I’d feel better after talking about my initial thoughts.
I think my biggest issue is I really like to collect things as I go. I like to catch everything I can in that area before moving on. In this case specifically (at least for me), it’s just better to move on with the story and come back after you’ve unlocked more things. Even getting the wisps are easier when you can actually fly instead of finding some odd way up the cliff (and sometimes you just can’t). But as someone who hates backtracking, it kills me. I don’t mind it as much if things just don’t show up until you finish a certain point, but just having to hold off and come back later when it’s right there drives me nuts. It also makes it harder for me to focus on what’s to come when I can’t really do things in sections. Even though Pokemon had a tendency to spawn places, the more open world made it feel much more overwhelming for me and I just… did not enjoy it, even if it was technically more natural.
Similarly, I hate the distortions. I don’t like RNG elements when it comes to Dex completion, so needing to wait for these random spheres to show up where almost everything is aggressive and hope they spawn the Pokemon you need (and enough of them!) isn’t fun to me in the slightest. I hated a lot of the Pokedex completion journey in Gen 7 specifically because of the weird RNG with getting some Pokemon to even show up. And here where multiple Pokemon can be attacking you in these distortions as you hope what you need spawns… is not fun, at all. While I’ve found a way to somehow do them by using grass cover starting from outside and stealthing my way in– that’s not a possible method everywhere and there’s still the general RNG and catch percentages.
I think what really gets me is, like with Let’s Go as someone who really dislikes battling, I had high hopes for being able to just catch everything and it feels like there is always some ridiculous small text disclaimer about how “Oh, but because there are no battles, we’ve added some incredibly annoying features to make it take longer”. I already have Pokemon chasing and attacking me, I don’t need all this RNG on top of it. Let alone annoying grindy extra requirements to even finish the Pokedex page to 10. In the end, I decided to just catch each once and not bother with the 10 completion which does technically bother me, but I was just too disheartened at this point.
I also still find battles very frustrating. I hate the strong/agile mechanic so much and due to them both coming with cons, I didn’t really want to use them unlike ones like… Gigantamax and Z-moves where even though I disliked them, they were easy to just get over with versus here where “Oh, you can do agile, but your moves may be weaker” or “You can do strong, but you may not get another chance to attack” and I never felt confident enough to really gamble on those circumstances. Even when I used it and it worked out, I just felt stressed out about it. It really felt like battles were a trade-off of if you get knocked out or not because Alpha Pokemon do so much, trainers will use those strong/agile moves and even have you fight multiple Pokemon at once, and you don’t get an option to switch out per Pokemon (and it just felt too risky to even do that because next move, a Pokemon could use a Strong move and one-shot them immediately). Nothing felt balanced to me and even with overleveled Pokemon, it still felt like a 50/50 chance if I’d even succeed. I had Pokemon 20+ levels below me using non-super effective moves and still would lose at least half of my HP. It made battling even worse for me and considering how I’ve never even enjoyed it; I didn’t know it was possible to make me like it even less. I know some people enjoy this kind of difficulty, but as someone who doesn’t even really like battles, not feeling even over leveling (sometimes I was over twice the level and still got one-shot) can help me get through them quickly is really frustrating. I would absolutely play a Pokemon game on easy mode.
Meanwhile, having to deal with Space Distortions and Outbreaks for better (if any) chances for certain Pokemon meant a lot of just… constant Pokeball flinging and what was once a decent amount of supplies quickly started to dwindle which meant I had to specifically go looking for crafting supplies. Sure, I could buy some, but not only did the Stores not always upgrade immediately, the main way to earn money is catching things and you also need to buy moves and buy bag slots and things just would add up so fast. It also felt like I just got really unlucky with catch chances which didn’t help. But it’s hard to enjoy foraging when I have no clue where I am going and constantly have to keep an eye on my bag space. And at any time, something may decide I should die and start chasing me when I’m just trying to mind my own business. Eventually, I did get tired of crafting and did start just buying things up, but it always felt like a huge balance. I never felt like I had enough money to go all in on that and my issues with aiming meant I often wasted balls too.
I think the only reason I still kept playing is the story itself. I wanted to see where it went, I wanted answers for certain actions, I wanted to help poor Ingo also find his way back (which at least where I got to, didn’t even happen)… But wow did it not help make the game actually fun to play for me by the end of it. I didn’t even manage to finish all the requests partially because there was no way I was dealing with the battle ones, but I just got tired of it. I suck at exploring enough with a minimap, let alone without one. Part of me does want to try and go back for the post-game and certain collection-related things (The Poems, the last Unown, and the Wisps), but I’m just… tired. I don’t want to battle Pokemon again for the shards, I don’t want to deal with the ultra-hard final double fight in the end, I just wanted to witness the story and get my character home.
I will say while I do like the idea of a lot of the game and found the story intriguing enough, I still think a lot of the execution wasn’t super great for me. Obviously, judging by most of the reviews, I’m in the minority! But I do think I’ll end up skipping on future Pokemon Legends entries unless they manage to feel less grindy and/or I can have a less aggressive/RNG difficulty option. I just hope friends can trade me any exclusive Pokemon in the future because I sure won’t be getting them otherwise.