Just over a year removed from the base game’s launch, Pokémon Scarlet & Violet’s final expansion for the ‘The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero’ DLC arrives with The Indigo Disk, and believe it or not, it’s (mostly) great!
Dating all the way back to the debut of Pokemon Scarlet & Violet, many eagle-eyed players (myself included) had lingering questions about certain mechanics and lore that have been left unanswered. Thankfully through the release of The Indigo Disk, we receive some insight into the seeds Game Freak planted in 2022.
The story within The Indigo Disk, while not quite as ambitious as the adventures of the base game, still manages to keep a solid pace, especially when compared to the previous expansion, The Teal Mask. Things start out simple enough, with the player being invited to a neighboring school, Blueberry Academy, where you’re encouraged to challenge the academy’s take on the Elite 4 concept; the Blueberry League (BBL for short). For those who’ve played Pokémon games previously, this likely isn’t anything new. That said, each of the members of the Elite 4 come with their own ‘Trial’ that adds a unique twist to break up the monotony of back-to-back battling.
As far as the trials themselves are concerned, they don’t offer much in the way of struggle, but they ultimately serve as fun little minigames that often fit the theme of the Elite Four member you’ll be battling. My favorite of the bunch was definitely Lacey’s Pokémon Quiz, where you’re asked questions like “What part of Pikachu’s body stores its electricity,” while also being tasked with identifying an authentic form Sinistea out of a group of 3. For longtime Pokémon fans a lot of these questions might come naturally, but I personally loved the idea of a quiz show, and it gets bonus points from me for being reminiscent of the quiz show minigames from Pokémon Stadium.
Speaking of challenge and difficulty, it’s worth mentioning that the battles (much like we mentioned in our preview) are actually quite difficult for the unsuspecting. When we spoke with a rep at Nintendo, we were told that The Indigo Disk is designed to feel like an endgame of sorts, and that definitely shows. Both the levels and general team compositions are significantly higher and more well-rounded, so you’ll definitely feel the difficulty spike. There were a handful of times during my first playthrough that I was forced to change teams or consider type coverage because of how many times I was locked out. I personally enjoyed the extra challenge and I’m hoping others do as well, as it might signal to Game Freak that this direction could be worth exploring in future titles as well. (Dynamic difficulty perhaps?)
Of course, what good would all these pieces be without a setting for the action to take place? In the case of The Indigo Disk, that setting is (mostly) within the futuristic walls of ‘The Terrarium’. Pretty soon after arriving at Blueberry Academy, players are introduced to the Terrarium, which acts as the game’s open world ‘Wild Area’ (yes I still use that term). Made up of four “biomes”, players will find random trainers to battle, caves to explore, and the brand-new BBQs or Blueberry Quests.
BBQs are essentially small tasks that players can complete to earn BP, which you can use for things like battle items, filters for photos, and my personal favorite, new “Throwing Styles” for your trainer to employ at the start of battles. The concept of BBQs is great, made even better through the introduction of multiplayer. In my experience, Union Rooms are the way to go if you’re looking to earn BP fast, since all players in the room earn BP as quests are completed, potentially quadrupling the BP you’d get from doing the same quests alone. Now that’s a great way to encourage playing together!
All told, The Indigo Disk feels much more realized than The Teal Mask ever did. It’s not perfect, but I do consider it a worthwhile venture for those who were fans of the base Scarlet & Violet games.
Remember, while ‘The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero’ may be complete, Scarlet & Violet still have one last hurrah in January in the form of the recently-announced free-to-play Epilogue that serves as a final send-off. This should (hopefully) make for a lovely end to the fantastic 9th Generation of the Pokémon franchise.