The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon franchise is a grand experience, combining Pokémon’s famous critters with dungeon-crawling RPG elements that even has an anime adaptation. In 2005, the first game debuted to massive acclaim, both critically and amongst Poké Fans everywhere. The two last releases, Super Mystery Dungeon and Gates to Infinity, received mixed reviews upon release, but all of that is about to change with Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, which looks like a real return to form in a way that should have even fans of the main games like Pokémon Sword and Shield excited.
In the Mystery Dungeon spin-offs, you play as a human that's been transformed into a Pokémon for an unknown reason, and you progress through the story while navigating and living in a Pokémon-run village. You captain a team of your fellow Pokémon to go on odd jobs and dungeon-crawling adventures. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is essentially an expanded remake of the original Mystery Dungeon game, but it's also so much more than that.
We placed it as one of our most hyped games releasing on Switch this year. Here's why.
5. Automatic dungeon exploration is even better than it sounds
The original Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has an interesting combat system, a compelling story, and it’s overall a good time, but manual dungeon crawling can get a little tiresome. If you think you’ve seen everything a dungeon has to offer, you can now activate an auto mode, which will place your team on a beeline to the exit. You’ll be given control again if your team runs into any foes along the way. That’s not a bad deal for somebody trying to get through the game’s story at a reasonable pace. It makes for a more streamlined gaming experience that feels very 2020.
4. Pokémon personality quiz is incisive, but not iron-clad
I’ve always found the Pokémon personality quizzes to be fun, surprisingly trenchant analyses on my personality. In previous Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, you take a quiz at the start of the game that assesses your personality to determine your starter Pokémon, making the result weigh far more than a simple Buzzfeed-style questionnaire.
Due to this added weight, I’d regularly reference guides while filling out my quiz in previous titles to ensure I got the "correct" or best Pokémon. In Mystery Dungeon DX, you can choose any Pokémon even if the quiz matches you with a Pokémon you're not too keen on. This kind of flexibility is a huge improvement for the franchise.
3. The new cell-shaded art style is distinct and brilliant
The original Pokémon Mystery Dungeon had an enjoyable pixelated art style like the base Pokémon games of the time period. In this remake, that art has been replaced with a cell-shaded design that almost looks like a pleasant watercolor, further distinguishing the title and helping it stand out from the many other Pokémon games out there. The cell shading also adds to the sense of reverie that reflects some elements in the game’s story. You can’t be a human that transformed into a Pokémon without a little magic.
2. Pokémon Rescue Camps let you live with Pokémon
Pokémon Camps are purchasable homes that your Pokémon can live in. Who needs Animal Crossing glamping when Pokémon can get legit houses?
Every home you purchase allows the player to increase the number of Pokémon you can permanently keep on your team, and it's a joy to see Pokémon of all shapes, sizes, and types living together in perfect harmony like some kind of Pokémon version of MTV's The Real World. In some ways, it also begins to feel like The Sims but with Pokémon, which is unlike anything that the base Pokémon games offer.
1. Mega Evolutions and other modern Pokémon marvels are included
In the latest Mystery Dungeon title, you’re not just replaying a story that released in 2005, but you’re doing so with a modern lens Pokémon can now Mega Evolve by consuming an Empowerment Seed. Those without a Mega Evolution will enter an awakened state. Either way, adding those Pokémon transformations that we’ve come to love from the main franchise is an exciting step forward for Mystery Dungeon. We can't help but wonder if Dynamax might also be integrated in some fashion, but giant Pokémon probably won't fit in the aforementioned camps.
Also, expect to see some contemporary Pokémon that weren’t present in the original. Lucario, for example, was hinted at being playable during the demo.
If all this sparked your interest in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, head on over to the Nintendo eShop and download the demo! All progress made can be transferred to the full game when it launches.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX launches for Nintendo Switch on March 6.