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Quick Look: Pokemon Scarlet

There’s only one mainline Pokemon game in the entire series that I’ve not finished. Pokemon Black….one day I’ll go back to it, start again and see it through. But today, in 2023, we have the latest title in the series Pokemon Scarlet & Pokemon Violet.

I love Pokemon, I always have. I remember fondly getting my copy of Pokemon Blue as my brother picked up Pokemon Red whilst we were on holiday in the US. Gameboys, rechargeable batteries and a link cable. We were kings!

The world and series has moved on since those days. In fact, it’s taken great strides since the launch of the Nintendo Switch. Pokemon Sword and Shield was very much a look to the future. Pokemon Scarlet is bordering on that game we always dreamed of back in the day. A full 3d open-world Pokemon experience.

This isn’t a review per se. I haven’t finished it yet, and whilst the story is important, particularly to drive the game play forwards. I want to look at what Pokemon Scarlet is doing new and different and too see if it’s the Pokemon experience we always wanted.

Spolier: It isn’t that experience we dreamed of. But it isn’t half as bad as people have made it out to be.

Pokemon Scarlet - Paldea

Pokemon Scarlet

What’s new in this latest release? I think the big one for Pokemon Scarlet is of course the fact that it’s a fully open-world.

Think Breath of the Wild. Fully 3D, roaming hills and valleys. Biomes, towns and points of interest. This is the bit we always wanted. I’d suggest that we lower our expectations a touch, though. Breath of the Wild this is not.

Perhaps it needed more time in development? Maybe the engine it’s built on isn’t quite so efficient as the Zelda one? I don’t know why it’s rough around the edges, but I’ll be honest, I like it.

Big, open and explorable. It’s clunky, but charming in its own way. Pokemon Scarlet isn’t the massive open-world experience just yet. It isn’t as smooth as you’d expect, and whilst it’s easy to blame the Switch hardware specs. We’ve seen big and better looking games in years past.

Still, it works and it’s a significant effort to bring the main series into the present.

Hats-off for the effort, but this isn’t the dream experience yet.

Pokemon Scarlet - Quaxly

Other changes

So, the big change in Pokemon Scarlet is the open-world. The concept works, a new approach to catching Pokemon, battling in the open and exploring the new world of Paldea.


We’ve had Mega-evolutions, Gigantamax and other iterations of making your Pokemon more than just their standard selves. Pokemon Scarlet introduces Terrastallizing. Coating your Pokemon in crystal, enhancing their attack and defense, and potentially changing their type.

So far, it’s just a last-ditch crack at taking on an enemy when I’m battling, and I keep forgetting about it entirely. The crystallised versions look fine, like Swarovski versions of your Pokemon.

It feels a little bit “for the sake of it”, but I can see the way it might shake things up in competitive battling though, mixed-types means things can be turned on their head!


Running around in the open world of Pokemon Scarlet means you can let your Pokemon free, too. They can go out and battle wild Pokemon as you wander around. Gaining XP and stopping all those classic random encounters you used to get.

Team Star

Like Galactic, Rocket and all the others. Another team of bad guys in Pokemon Scarlet. This time, though, it’s more interesting. One of the core story lines is to tackle them at their bases across the world. It’s really nice to be the one taking trouble to their door! Although, fighting things like trucks with your Pokemon is a little odd.

Still unravelling their story, but it’s nice to have this other objective that results in different benefits like new TMs and better unlocks.

Pokemon Scarlet - Team Star


The definitive Pokemon experience. Pokemon Scarlet leaves it up to you to wander off on your own. Find the gyms, take them on in whatever order you like.

Earn badges, increase the level of Pokemon you can control etc. It’s all there for the taking, but you don’t have to unless you fancy it. Giving you that feeling that you’re a person living in this world, and being the “Pokemon Master” isn’t the only way of life here.

Path of Legends

Across the world of Paldea there are “Titans” massively over-grown Pokemon that are seemingly causing trouble. Another thread of the story to follow in Pokemon Scarlet is this path of legends.

Dealing with the titans helps you gain abilities for your legendary pokemon/vehicle.

Pokemon Scarlet - Explore

Looking forwards

It’s been a solid start to Pokemon Scarlet, and 3D open-world efforts aside, there’s so much new to tackle and to learn, this still feels like fresh take on the series.

I know there’s more to uncover and learn. More to see and master.

Fact is, I need those gym badges and I want to see what this new open-world has to offer.

Taking it as it is now, I can see how people might be disappointed. But honestly, get past the initial aesthetic impression and there’s something substantial here.

I highly recommend Pokemon Scarlet.

Highly Recommended

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