Friday, 10 July 2020

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX ★★★★☆

‘Pokémon Mystery Dungeon’, originally out in 2005, was one of the many games I played as a teenager, and my younger sister was absolutely obsessed with it. That oh-so-pleasing soundtrack could be heard pretty much every day, so playing the new remake ‘Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX’ was an absolute nostalgia trip that took me right back to my late childhood.

‘Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX’ is different from the main Pokémon game series in quite a few ways. It’s a dungeon-crawler with roguelike elements, and there are no humans in the game at all – you play as a Pokémon, chosen by essentially a personality test at the start of the game, who was human before but for some reason is now stuck in this strange Pokémon-only world. I played as Squirtle on my run-through, with the game identifying that I “doze off” and “stare vacantly into space” (thanks?), although you can change your choice if you want to be a specific Pokémon.

Once in the world, you bump into another Pokémon (again, chosen by you) who quickly becomes your friend. After helping to save someone you put together a rescue team, and the rest of the game is pretty much-accepting requests from other residents and helping them within the top-down dungeon levels. It’s the sort of game that you’d think would become repetitive but it doesn’t, mainly due to the randomly-generated dungeons and the fact that you can recruit more and more Pokémon as you go again, switching up your team as you see fit.

There are some similarities to the standard Pokémon games – types are still relevant, and the more you train, the better. You can hold a limited number of items to help you with each request, however, if you die then you lose all of these. You can spend your hard-earned cash to buy camps for Pokémon to live in once you’ve recruited them, plus you can train your team outside of dungeon exploration via the local Dojo. The game is actually quite strategic once you start a mission, being a roguelike, as enemy Pokémon only move when you do, meaning that each step forward you make can have quite an impact on how your run will go. I love this as it adds a puzzle element to it and makes it more than just speeding through each floor and blasting every enemy that you see.

The only thing that kept getting me was the controls, however, I remember having this issue with the originals. I can only describe the movement as “whizzy”… Everything is very quick, and the joysticks seem overly-sensitive. Because of this, it makes it quite easy to accidentally move into a space that you didn’t mean to, substituting your turn to an enemy, or face the wrong way when attacking so you do no damage. Sometimes I’d find myself wasting energy by running circles around something I was trying to land on, or clicking through text that came up too quickly and making the wrong choice. I’ve had to really consciously slow down so I don’t keep making errors, but the nature of the game makes you just want to zoom through it all (so it’s a bit of a battle).

I’m really enjoying it, though – the graphics are gorgeous, almost watercolour-like, and the music is quite relaxing to listen to. It’s got a whole different dynamic to the standard Pokémon games which gives it a bit of an edge, and there’s just something so delightful about being able to play as a Pokémon in a world where it’s all about their personalities and relationships, rather than just the people that own them. I wouldn’t say it’s as complex and absorbing, however, it’s a great game to dip in and out of and a whole lot of fun. 

Hannah Read

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