In the world of Pokémon, new games and expansions regularly appear, always with their own unique twists in the RPG formula. However, the latest DLC for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, titled “The Teal Mask,” fails to address the series’ biggest problems and leaves much to be desired.
“The Teal Mask” follows the same formula as its predecessor, Isle of Armor, offering a small open world filled with new creatures and standalone stories. While this formula was once fresh and exciting, it now begins to feel old and repetitive as players spend hours traversing familiar landscapes. The expansion shows diminishing returns and does not address the technical issues that plagued the base game.
The DLC introduces a charming story set in a new area called Kitakami, where players are paired with students from the local Blueberry Academy. The plot focuses on a shy and misunderstood Pokémon who is treated as an outcast, parallel to the journey of one of the Blueberry Academy students. It is a sincere attempt to address children’s emotions through the colorful world of Pokémon.
However, the actual tasks and gameplay in “The Teal Mask” leave much to be desired. The adventure mainly consists of finding waypoints and facing the same trainers multiple times. While there are mini-games and side quests, they do not engage players as much as Isle of Armor, which offered Diglett collection and tower battles.
Furthermore, Kitakami is one of the least exciting Pokémon worlds to date. The open world lacks details and seems to be a rehash of familiar elements. It is a step back compared to the cohesive and diverse world of Isle of Armor, which included beaches, swamps, and deserts.
The technical issues that affected Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are even more noticeable in “The Teal Mask.” In-game elements flicker, animations occasionally slow down, and textures can be blurry. It is disappointing that Game Freak did not take the opportunity to optimize the experience while creating the DLC.
Despite its flaws, the joy of collecting new creatures and completing the Pokédex still shines through in “The Teal Mask.” However, it is evident that Game Freak needs to introduce significant changes and improvements to the series. Hopefully, the next Pokémon game on the next Nintendo console will bring the necessary enhancements and innovations.