Pokemon Scarlet & Violet: The Indigo Disk Review

Highlights

  • The Indigo Disk DLC in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet fails to address unresolved storylines and leaves players with unanswered questions.
  • Trainers and rivals in the Terarium are challenging but battles feel redundant, and the new mechanics like BBQs and the Synchro Machine lack depth and reward.
  • The Indigo Disk DLC offers a lackluster conclusion, a half-baked explanation of the Paradox Pokemon, and ruins the strengths of the base game, making the overall experience worse.


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People have always said that nobody in the world hates Pokemon more than a Pokemon player. While I find that statement funny, I never believed it. And then Pokemon Scarlet & Violet was released.

The Indigo Disk, the second of Scarlet & Violet’s DLC packs, begins as a conclusion to the Area Zero storyline and any questions that remained from the base game’s main story, and a follow-up to the previous expansion’s storyline involving siblings Carmine and Kieran. This is all tied together as the game presents a new location to explore; the Terarium of the Blueberry Academy, far away in the Unova Region.

Fans will be instantly regaled by music that remixes the modern OST of Pokemon Scarlet & Violet with some excerpts from the Black & White. The theme songs for the wild and trainer battles are also remixed with the original songs of those games, so you’re constantly reminded of the region you find yourself in, without feeling like a carbon copy of those same locations.

This, along with some nods and hints to the fifth generation, made me realize that we might be closer to a Black & White remake than I first thought, which honestly doesn’t sound enticing after seeing the quality of this entry in the series. Once again, the Indigo Disk doesn’t run well, with frequent hiccups and frame drops plaguing your journey across the Terarium, so I’m concerned about the quality of a hypothetical remake of what is arguably the best generation of Pokemon games in the whole series.

Elite Four Drayton preparing to battle in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet.

In the Terarium, the most immediate change is that the trainers and rivals are by far the most challenging the series has been in years. From double battles to fully-built Pokemon teams, you will find yourself more often than not losing battles if you get too confident, which is a welcome change that could help players to try the competitive play more comfortably. However, these trainer battles are also completely avoidable and useless, so this change, as welcome as it is, feels redundant.

Novel mechanics like the BBQs are implemented in such a natural way, since you can complete them while you progress on the story with total freedom, and they take very little time to see through. However, the points required to earn rewards or unlock more Pokemon in the wild are too high, which unfortunately makes the system an incessant grind.

In what might be perhaps the most puzzling aspect, we also get the Synchro Machine mechanic, which allows you to synchronize your mind with your Pokemon and control them from afar. This gives you a new way to explore the world, and it might be the funniest gimmick in this generation. But again, it has no actual use, reward, or depth to it. You’re only able to hit other Pokemon as in the Let’s Go mode and you cannot capture anything, so any shiny Pokemon that shows up will despawn the moment you de-sync. On top of that, you cannot even use the camera function while you use the Synchro Machine, so you can’t snap pictures either.

Snivy, Totodile, and Fennekin from Indigo Disk

On the bright-ish side, Miraidon and Koraidon can now obtain the ability to permanently Fly, and this is the best form of flying the series has ever had. It could be hugely beneficial to the overall experience if it wasn’t relegated to be a post-game unlock, way after you have already explored all that was to explore.

The story in this final chapter is what bothered me the most. The main plot of Scarlet & Violet touched subjects I had never expected to see in the series and in a satisfying way, leaving a lot of open questions with hints as to what the possible answers to them could be. Then, the Teal Mask DLC introduced new characters and a new story, while also further developing said questions in the background. So, as logic dictates, the DLC that presented itself as both the follow-up to The Teal Mask and a proper conclusion for the Area Zero storyline should tackle those issues too.

None of that happens. First off, We get a follow-up of Carmine and Kieran’s story, as you must enter the Blueberry League and defeat the now aggressive and competitive Kieran, who suffered a mysterious shift in personality at the end of The Teal Mask, hinted to be influenced by a Legendary Pokemon that’s operating from the shadows.

You defeat him and that’s it. There’s no resolution to whatever is going on with him, you just beat him repeatedly across the whole DLC until he just gives up and calms down. We now know there’s an epilogue in the works that should shed some light on this, but getting to the climax of the BB League and getting no answers to whatever is going on with one of the main supporting characters just isn’t a smart move, especially if you want to tell a story from beginning to end.

The main character, Carmine, Kieran, and Briar in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet.

This takes me to the latter part of The Indigo Disk, the mystery behind the Treasure of Area Zero. Once your shenanigans in the Blueberry Academy have concluded, Professor Briar takes you, Carmine, and Kieran to Area Zero, where Geeta has authorized her to explore the depths of this massive crater. 20 minutes of exploration later, Kieran once again antagonizes you only to fail miserably before you can capture Terapagos, the flagship Legendary Pokemon in this chapter.

And that’s it, as anti-climatic as it sounds. We get a half-baked explanation of what the Paradox Pokemon are that ignores any previous hint or context we got in the base game, and a cameo appearance of the deceased Professor who comes from another timeline (rendering the whole encounter moot and giving no closure of any kind to their deaths), something that doesn’t even happen in the main story, and it’s just a short cutscene in the post-game.

Look, I know. This is not the first time Pokemon has swung and missed. However, every single mechanic, whether a new addition or an update, and every point in the story, all look like a major change in whatever direction the base game was going, and it’s not even a bold move that pays off. It just feels incomplete, cheap, and frankly, an utter waste of time.

The Indigo Disk DLC can remix every single song from Gen 5 but was never going to offer a technical redemption of what was done in Scarlet & Violet. But it somehow managed to ruin the strengths of the base game (the narrative), making the whole experience retroactively worse. At this point, there is no more optimism in me for the future of this series.

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