Pokémon rom hacks are nothing new. Pokémon fans are generally very creative people, and many have their own ideas on how to better the series. Some of these fans have created their own Pokémon games throughout the years. Pokémon Brown, Pokémon Sienna, and Pokémon Rejuvenation are a few that come to mind; brilliantly done, but with the traditional strategies intact. Some attempts at “Pokémon for adults” have also been conducted, with Pokémon Uncensored being one of the most famous results. Funny, crude, and with the traditional Pokémon style in place as well.
Yet recently, a developer known as “iamVishnu” has created a new game, one that turns everything you knew about Pokémon on its head. Enter, Pokémon Apex! This recently released game has quickly developed a following, and that following is well-deserved. Instead of just playing around with dialogue and sprites, iamVishnu has truly created a world of his own…one that is magical, mystical, and leaves the player constantly screaming, “What the heck?!” while being totally engrossed.
Still, no game is without its “kinks”. It’s time to dive into The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly of Pokémon Apex!
This game features an original storyline, including a teenaged protagonist in the middle of the school year, living in the suburbs of a large city. Pokémon Apex features original music instead of the same rehashed soundtracks, and a paranormal aspect is introduced early on in the game. The storyline is gripping, with the gameplay running more as a mystery with Pokémon placed as minor plot point in the series. There is also no “hand-holding” the way that there is in most Pokémon games; if you do not know what to do, you will wander around aimlessly until you figure it out.
With the mystery aspect intact, the game also creates a shroud of doubt in most characters. At the end of the current beta release, I do not trust anyone. Everytime I find someone I believe I can trust, a clue is uncovered that gives me a reason to doubt them. And that is something that you don’t really see in Pokémon games. Team Rocket just barges in, announces who they are, and wreaks havoc; in Pokémon Apex, people are sneaky and everyone could be a red herring or in cahoots with the primary villains.
This game also promises a long playtime. With just the current version, you already have around three hours of gameplay, and with another release around the corner, this game will be around for quite some time! And as hype for Pokémon GO and Pokémon Sun/Moon are building, now is the perfect time to catch a taste of Pokémon Apex.
The bad, as we mentioned previously, is that the game is not yet completed. Similar to waits we’ve experienced from games like 2005’s Life Is Strange and The Walking Dead, you get a chunk at a time to explore, and then are stuck twiddling your thumbs for the next few months until the next instalment. Luckily for us, iamVishnu has set up communities for Pokémon Apex on both Tumblr and Reddit so fans can gather to share experiences and theories for the rest of the series.
Seeing as this is an unfinished game, there are also a few glitches to be found. The goal of Pokémon may be to “Catch ‘em all”, but I don’t think they were including glitches in that figure. There are a few that I encountered that froze up my game, forcing me to reload it. And seeing as—for the purposes of YouTube—you don’t save your game until the end of your “video”, this cost me oftentimes fifteen or more minutes to catch back up. Luckily, these glitches are getting reported quickly via the Tumblr and Reddit communities, so the mini-patches are fixing them up rather quickly.
Probably the worst part of Pokémon Apex again involves the fact that it is an uncompleted game. In the past, iamVishnu has recommended that players start their games over when installing new updates to achieve the full effect. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world, players should have the option of playing bit by bit and then doing a full speedplay once the entire game is done, rather than having a broken experience by resuming their save points.
This is just one of those things that I hope can be avoided with future updates, especially for YouTubers who are already on tight schedules.
Usually, this is the part where I rate the game, but seeing as it is incomplete, that rating could change at any time. As of now, I am rating this game at a 7.5 out of 10. There is room for improvement, but I am truly loving what I am seeing. Let’s hope that iamVishnu continues crafting this magnificent game, as he has already promised that a new release is right around the corner!