Pokémon Legends: Arceus promises to be the franchise’s modernization that fans have been clamoring for, and in more ways than one. Besides the obvious expansion to gameplay features and visual fidelity made possible by the series’ new home on Switch, it could well be the case that Game Freak is aiming to tell a more mature (but still child-friendly) narrative.
Set in Sinnoh’s distant past, when it was then known as the Hisui region, Legends sees players experience a period where people and Pokémon had yet to establish bonds which would eventually lead to long-lasting companionship both on and off the battlefield. That being the case, this new adventure gives Game Freak the freedom to explore themes and ideas never before touched upon, including the concepts of death and loss.
Neither has been shied away from completely in the past, of course. The existence of Ghost-type Pokémon (Lavender Town remains a poignant example) alone directly allude to the fact that Pokémon can and do die, though descriptions given via narration in this week’s latest trailer suggests that such themes could be explored further, one Game Rant fan theory points out.
Basculegion, in particular, is revealed to be an evolution of Basculin that only takes place when another member of its school perishes and possesses another. Likewise, specific mention of Wyrdeer’s pelt being prized among Hisui’s people suggest that wildlife serves its populace in myriad ways, much in the same way as Earth’s fauna.
A fascinating potential curveball, then, but it’s worth remembering that even if Legends intends to pay close attention to more mature themes, this is still going to primarily be an all-ages affair. We’ll just have to wait and see just how far Game Freak intends to push the boundaries into existential questions.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus releases January 28th, 2022, for Nintendo Switch.