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Review

Pokémon Scarlet And Violet: The Teal Mask Review

Something something blue duck

It has been almost a year since the controversial release of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, and despite the general vitriol surrounding the title dying down it still remains a game mired in controversy due to its deplorable technical state, the various bugs, and its numerous design flaws. Regardless, it was still an immensely popular game on release and continues to prove the incredible staying power of the Pokémon franchise. The first of two DLC expansions for the game, The Teal Mask, demonstrates how a smaller scale is more befitting of Game Freak’s insane development pipeline than the scale present in the base game.

The Teal Mask takes place on the island of Kitikami after the biology teacher, Jacq, contacts you about some kind of expedition that will take you to the aforementioned island in partnership with the Academy’s Unovan sister school, Blueberry Academy. It is here that you meet Carmine and Kieran (no relation to our editor-in-chief, Kieran Stockton), two siblings who are locals of the area. Carmine, the older of the two, is immediately aggressive towards you as she is rather protective of her village. As is the case with most rival characters, she almost immediately forms a bond with you after you pummel her Pokémon party into oblivion.

Teal Mask 1

Eventually, the coordinator of the trip has the idea to split everyone up as a means of ensuring connections and friendships across the academies, and Carmine decides that it would be best if you were to pair up with Kieran. You spend some time travelling across the island and learning about the Loyal Three – three Pokémon that are said to have protected the village from the rampage of an ogre Pokémon. In response, the people of the village hold the story of the Loyal Three as an integral part of their culture and traditions, and they store the masks the Loyal Three held in the village hall. Contradicting his own village’s beliefs, Kieran holds the ogre in high regard as he sees himself in the notorious figure – a figure that is often misunderstood. There is a mystery afoot, and you end up working with Carmine behind Kieran’s back to figure out what the mystery is as it has something to do with the infamous ogre.

Overall, The Teal Mask is a relatively small expansion. Where my first playthrough of the base game was around the 40-50 hour mark, completing this expansion was more a matter of 5-6 hours, and a lot of that was comprised of me just wandering around Kitikami rather than being explicitly engaged with the story that was being told. However, that isn’t to say that the story is bad, in fact, it’s told quite nicely with a lovely animated scene used for its big exposition dump similar to what Destiny 2 does each season. Much like in Bungie’s live service shooter, this animated scene is easily the best part of the story, but the overall story is just nice and simple. Nothing overly complicated, and certainly nothing as contrived and dumb as the story of Sword and Shield.

Teal Mask 2

In total, The Teal Mask brings 110 Pokémon to Scarlet and Violet, with eight of them being brand new Pokémon and the other 102 returning from previous entries. Amongst these returning Pokémon are some fan favourites like the Generation 4 starters, Chandelure, and Vikavolt. The real champion of the returning Pokémon, however, is my boy Ducklett. They may just be a duck, and they may just evolve into a swan called Swanna, but they’re just a little guy who is vibing and isn’t that what we all wish to be? Just a little guy vibing? Come on, you can’t look at the dopey smile on that blue duck’s face and tell me you would die for them. But I digress, all these additions to the game help diversify the available Pokémon for competitive use, assuming you were not using Pokémon Home to transfer your favourite Pokémon from other titles.

What is nice are the little minigames and questlines that are available. Because there isn’t some bizarre pacing to the game like there was for the base game, it is a lot easier to engage with some of the more optional content found within the game. While the minigames are rather inconsequential, just having something else to do is nice. The optional quests are cool too, with one standout leading to a static Pokémon encounter.

As is the case with the main game itself, The Teal Mask expansion runs like garbage. Frequent frame drops, texture popping, ugly and muddy environment textures, blurry environments with terrible draw distances, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet continue to be a technical disaster and The Teal Mask majorly suffers from it.

Teal mask 3

While The Teal Mask suffers from the technical travesty that comprises Scarlet and Violet, that doesn’t stop it from having some nice and unique environments. There are small areas like the Apple Orchard, or the fields of flowers, and bigger areas like the mountaintop which holds a secret upon its peak. Kitikami’s environments proves that, while most of the series has been feeling creatively bankrupt lately, there is still a lot of talent and creativity at the studio.

Final Thoughts

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: The Teal Mask is a relatively quaint expansion that doesn’t really strive to do much beyond adding some Pokémon and telling a small, nice story. Still, it is victim to the horrendous technical woes that plague the Generation 9 games, as well as some strange balance choices that make the early periods of the expansion feel quite weird.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch // Review code supplied by publisher

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Pokémon Scarlet And Violet: The Teal Mask Review
Teal Team Six
Does The Teal Mask redeem Pokémon Scarlet and Violet for the faults made last year? No, but that doesn’t stop it from being an inoffensive, nice experience.
The Good
Cool environments
Nice story
Ducklett
The Bad
Strange balance choices for available Pokémon
Stills runs and looks like crap
7
Solid
  • Game Freak
  • Nintendo/The Pokémon Company
  • Switch
  • September 13, 2023

Pokémon Scarlet And Violet: The Teal Mask Review
Teal Team Six
Does The Teal Mask redeem Pokémon Scarlet and Violet for the faults made last year? No, but that doesn’t stop it from being an inoffensive, nice experience.
The Good
Cool environments
Nice story
Ducklett
The Bad
Strange balance choices for available Pokémon
Stills runs and looks like crap
7
Solid
Written By Jordan Garcia

Jordan lives and breathes Dark Souls, even though his favourite game is Bloodborne. He takes pride in bashing his face on walls and praising the sun. Hailing from the land of tacos, he is the token minority for WellPlayed.

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