Pokémon Scarlet and Violet add Storytelling Depth to the Franchise

Jason Fallo, Editor-in-Chief

This past November, Pokémon fans got their hands on the newest entries in the main series, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. This is a very special Pokémon game, as it is the first mainline game to include a fully open-world that can be explored in whatever order the player wishes. It is also the first Pokémon game to ever include cooperative multiplayer, allowing you to explore the new Paldea region and catch Pokémon alongside your friends. After playing through the entire main story and epilogue of Pokémon Scarlet, the game both surpassed and fell short of expectations in numerous ways. 

The main story of Scarlet and Violet follows the newest student at either Naranja Academy or Uva Academy, depending on which version of the game the player has purchased. The students are on a journey to complete an independent study project called “The Treasure Hunt”, centered around exploring the region and discovering something of emotional significance to the individual student. This project has the player completing three main objectives that can be done in whatever order they wish. The first objective introduced to the player is Victory Road, in which the player travels the region defeating the eight gym leader challenges in order to challenge and defeat the Elite Four and become the newest champion of the Paldea region. Along this path, the player will grow close to their neighbor Nemona, the student body president and current champion of Paldea. The second path revealed is the Path of Legends, in which the player will be requested to aid their classmate Arven in collecting special herbs guarded by massive Titan Pokémon for his legendary sandwiches. Along this path the player slowly helps the legendary Pokémon of their chosen game, Koraidon from Scarlet and Miraidon from Violet, recover from a mysterious injury they gained some time prior to the beginning of the game by feeding them the powerful herbs gathered after battling each Titan Pokémon. The final path is Starfall Street, in which the player goes to each of the bases of Team Star, a group of delinquent students, and challenge their leaders at the behest of Cassiopeia, an anonymous ally with an unknown connection with the leaders of Team Star.

The best parts of the game are the story and the difficulty. The Pokémon franchise is infamous for having lack-luster stories and fairly boring characters, with a handful of notable exceptions, Scarlet and Violet being the newest among them.

Quick warning for readers who have not played the games yet and still wish to do so blind, story spoilers will be revealed in the next section.


Personally my favorite part of the story was the Path of Legends with Arven. After the first few Titan Pokémon are subdued and the herbs have been collected and prepared into sandwiches, Arven reveals that the real reason he’s collecting the herbs is for their health restoring properties. One of Arven’s Pokémon is quite sick, and no normal treatment was helping, so Arven consulted a book from his parent’s lab for a solution. This led him to search out the herbs you’ve been helping him gather so far, and the reason he didn’t tell the player right away was because he was scared of showing emotional vulnerability, a fear he gained from being neglected by his parent, who player’s learn is the Pokémon professor of their chosen game. Very rarely do Pokémon games contain such raw and emotional storytelling, making it even more emotionally charged when the player goes to confront the professor at the end of the game and learn that they’ve been dead the entire time, and the person you’ve been talking to was nothing more than a machine made to mimic their appearance. This reveal is just scratching the surface of the beautiful writing these games have to offer.

The other shining point of these games is the difficulty. For the most part Pokémon games of late have been upsettingly easy, but these new entries in the series actually challenge the players. The game allows players to complete the several mission objectives in whatever order they wish, giving a nice mix of genuine challenges and easy wins depending on what order the game is completed in. Even after the main story is finished, players get the opportunity to re-challenge all the gym leaders of the game once again, this time battling against their strongest team. I was pleasantly surprised to see how hard these post-game challenges were. Previously I had mostly been able to sweep through entire battles with a single Pokémon, but the stronger teams I battled against forced me to think on my feet and often had me thinking that I might not win on my first try.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet did have its downsides, the biggest of this was the performance. My copy of the game wasn’t too bad, but many players booted up their games to find them filled with lag and graphical bugs that strongly bring down the experience. Many blame Nintendo’s “one game per year” policy for this, and I’d have to agree. The game simply needed more development time to polish out the rough edges and fix all the bugs but was rushed out to reach the deadline. This is also made apparent in some of the gameplay features being extremely unrefined. The most frustrating part is that the previous game, Pokemon Legends Arceus, had featured many fun and polished gameplay mechanics and quality of life improvements that were absent in Scarlet and Violet. At many points while playing the new game I just wanted to turn it off and load up Legends Arceus. These downsides had greatly affected player experience, leading Pokémon Scarlet and Violet to become the lowest rated main-series Pokémon game to date.

Overall, I genuinely enjoyed these games. While the negative aspects of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are unacceptable from a company like Nintendo, the positive manages to outshine them and makes the newest entries into the Pokémon series a good one.