It’s here, it’s finally here! Pokémon Sword is first game I’ve ever pre-ordered, and thus the first game I’ve ever played on the day of release. Thankfully, after months and months of waiting, filled with anticipation – the game isn’t a disappointment. In fact, it’s wonderful!
Embarking on a brand new quest across the Galar region, I haven’t been able to tear myself away, amassing a play time of five hours in less than a day since its release. I’ve chosen my starter, got a new hair do, explored the Wild Area and just signed up for the Gym Challenge… So I thought that it was high time I wrote up my initial impressions of the game.
For starters, I just want to say this: I love Pokémon Sword. Dexit or not, this is shaping up to be one of my favourite Pokémon games so far… And I’ve only sunk five hours into this bad boy.
Starting out on my journey, I was amazed at how beautiful the game looks. The colours burst off the screen, bold and brash without being childish, the landscapes roll on seemingly endlessly, the towns and routes burst with Pokémon popping up here there and everywhere. It’s the best looking Pokémon game to date, by far. Sure, there’s a couple of draw issues here and there, but I’m not complaining. It’s the best we’ve ever got, and I’m here for it. We’ve come a long way since our little 8-bit adventures.
Journeying over to my friend’s house, Hop, it’s not long before I was gifted my very first Pokémon – by the reigning Champion, no less! Introducing Champion Leon early is a nice little shake up to the standard formula, seeing our eventual final rival, wincing when he chooses the starter that has the type advantage over your own.
I chose Scorbunny, of course, I’ll forever love my lil’ fiery boy, and we embarked out on our adventure across the gorgeous Galar region. You can skip most of the tutorials, which is nice, and catch Pokémon before you’ve even been show how to. It wasn’t long before I began amassing my team.
That’s a nice little detail in itself, too. Out of the three starters – one chosen by you, the other by your rival slash friend, the third poor Poké is usually discarded into the abyss. Not this time around. This time it’s being trained by the Champion himself.
The game is full of little details like that which make it seem as though the game was built from a place of love and care. Passersby call you “mate” in a typical British fashion, Pokémon centres have little doors that swing inward as opposed to the automatic, electronic vibe of its predecessors. Your character touches the rain as it falls, and his breath turns frosty as you traverse cold landscapes. Your mum (Note: ‘mum’, this time, not ‘mom’), has hair that matches your character’s… there’s heaps and heaps of little nuances like that scattered throughout – and I’m only five hours deep! It’s super impressive.
There’s a shake up to the usual formula in Sword and Shield. You register to take on the gyms, first, which is a neat little touch. So far, the villainous Team Yell only seem to be intense fanboys as opposed to Pokémon-stealing, world-ending wronguns (though I’m guessing this may change). You encounter the legendary right near the beginning of the game, in a marvellously mysterious way. And, of course, Pokémon appear in the over world! It’s so friggin’ cool seeing the little critters pop up all over the place, hearing their cries and rushing to add them to your Pokédex. From seeing a massive Gyrados swim through a lake to the spooky Ghastly swarming the abandoned tower, I’ll never tire of seeing them exploring the world in real time.
The fact that this game is based on England is a plus, too. As an English gamer it’s a delight to see a game using the country as a base for their inspiration. From the rolling fields to the steampunk cities, Galar is shaping up to beat Hoenn as my favourite region already.
The customisation in this game is the best it’s ever been for Pokémon, too. The fashion is actually decent, featuring skinny jeans and plaid shirts and brightly coloured hair. There’s so many ways to make your Trainer look rad, and I can’t wait to unlock more outfits as the game goes on. It also gives the in-game money a purpose, too. Saving up to buy some rad glad rags sounds all too familiar.
Of course, the true highlight of the game is the Wild Area. An abundance of Pokémon await me in the sprawling plain, and it’s addictive to try to grab them all. Some are level locked – for the first time ever in a Pokémon game – but I actually don’t mind that. It gives you incentive to level up and return to the area later in the game when you’re more prepared.
The new gimmick this time around are the Dynamax battles. I’m not gonna lie, they’re pretty rad. Seeing a gigantic Togepi, desperately trying to lower its health with a bunch of other Trainers so I could catch it was quite the thrill. For me, it’s the best gimmick they’ve introduced, beating out Z moves and Mega Evos.
Confession time: I haven’t beat a Pokémon game since Emerald, back in 2005! I don’t know what it is – I got about two-thirds through Moon and never picked it up again. In Let’s Go Pikachu, I got six gym badges and left it sat there to gather dust. This time, though, will be different. I’m already itching to get back onto Sword just writing this blog post – there’s just something so utterly charming about the adventure this time around that leaves me wanting more and more.
The camping addition is cute, too. I usually don’t bother with the side stuff in Pokémon but it’s actually fun to brew up curries and play fetch with Yamper! There’s a few side quests and activities that I’ve stumbled upon already, too, and it makes the world of Galar feel even more alive.
The new Pokémon, thus far, are rad. From my little electric doggo to my gothic raven, they’re an amazing slew of colourful additions into the realm, and, for once, I might actually be able to catch them all.
There are a few things about the game that I don’t like: the locked exp. share, the worry of being overlevelled, its difficulty (it’s pretty easy so far), the rapidly changing weather in the Wild Area that happens so fast it blindsides you, the pop ins… But none of that really matters. I’ve been having a blast while playing my latest Pokémon adventure, and I adore it for that. In short: it’s a heap load of pure gaming fun, and that’s what it’s all about.
In the meantime, grab yourself a copy of the latest Pokémon games from Amazon down below! You won’t regret it. Promise.