Pokémon Sword and Shield Review

Egan Frelich, Staff Writer

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This review is based on Pokémon Sword. The available Pokémon and certain story elements differ between versions.

As the first home console entries in a long-running creature-collecting RPG franchise, Pokémon Sword and Shield had high expectations to live up to. Especially with the announcement that many Pokémon from previous games would not be included, many believed that these games needed to be a huge step forward for the franchise. Unfortunately, while the games are far better in some areas, there are elements that feel like a step back compared to previous entries.

Like every Pokémon game, Sword and Shield are turn based games in which players capture and train creatures called Pokémon. Most of the new Pokémon introduced have appealing designs, and many are quite fun to use. There is a good selection returning Pokémon as well, many of which can be found in the new Wild Area.

The Wild Area is a large stretch of open land that players can explore fairly early on. The early portions of the wild area are fairly straightforward, but the deeper parts can be interesting to explore. Different Pokémon can be found roaming around based on the weather conditions, but I found the weather in the Wild Area to be changing far too frequently. This is especially irritating considering the reduced graphical quality outside of clear and sunny weather.

Battles in Sword and Shield are roughly the same as previous entries, with strategy often focusing on the rock-paper-scissors style advantages that certain attacks have on certain Pokémon. Unfortunately, the games are quite easy, as players who choose to stick to a core team of 6 Pokémon may find their Pokémon growing to be far more powerful than those of their opponents. However, a more difficult experience is possible if players frequently experiment with their team composition.

The games’ overall presentation is easily the best in the series. Many of the animations are full of character, and the art style is appealing as well. The music is great too, with almost every battle or town theme being memorable. The story is simple, but the games’ many likeable characters make up for the lackluster plot. However, certain elements don’t receive the amount of depth needed, and end up feeling rather rushed.

Pokémon Sword and Shield are enjoyable games, but there are numerous factors that make the experience feel rather simple. The strange approach to online features, reduced number of Pokémon, simple story, and low difficulty all leave the experience feeling lesser than other games at times. However, the best moments of Sword and Shield are great, and the games go through great lengths to respect the player’s time. For the most part, the positives outweigh the negatives, making Pokémon Sword and Shield a very good experience.