That's why they call it the blues
What is The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero? That was probably the question on most playersâ lips after the Expansion Pass for was revealed. Part one, The Teal Mask, was just an appetizer, taking players to a new land in Kitakami and introducing new characters who might just end up being crucial to this final mystery in Paldea. So, with The Indigo Disk finally here, we were excited to find out just what lies at the end of Area Zero. Well, weâre slightly disappointed with the answer.
Area Zero, the final part of the base game, is one of the seriesâ high points. Itâs absolutely wild, and if you haven't yet beaten Scarlet & Violet, youâre in for a treat. So the prospect of returning to this final area to uncover some hidden secret was always going to be a huge draw. But, because of the way The Indigo Disk plays out, the narrative feels pretty fractured as a result. Fortunately, the new area and many of the new features are fun to play around with.
Letâs take a step back and look at the plot. The Indigo Disk sees your character participate in an exchange programme with the Blueberry Academy, the sister school to your academy in Paldea. Set in the Unova region â the setting for and , another huge draw for series fans â this school is at the forefront of Pokémon battles, and home to the Terarium, a ground under the ocean which is split into four very distinct biomes, and such is the perfect home for a plethora of Pokémon.
At the Blueberry Academy, you get acquainted with the students and sign up for the Blueberry League, which sees you take on the BB League Elite Four in some fun challenges. Carmine and Kieran â the stars of The Teal Mask DLC â also return. The story here serves more as a conclusion to the siblingsâ arc but is framed through your journey through the Elite Four. Honestly, the characters carry the narrative entirely â a lot of the story beats come across as trite and unnecessary, but the siblings, as well as Elite Four member Drayton in particular, are fantastically written. Itâs a shame everything else is so ho-hum.
The return to Area Zero only makes up the final hour of this six-hour-ish adventure, and it all feels a bit tacked on. Terapagos is a cute Legendary and helps introduce a new Tera Type, but compared to the Legendaries of The Teal Mask (and even the base game), it feels incredibly underutilised. The Hidden Treasure at the end of the Expansion Pass doesn't shine like we expected it to, so itâs hard for us to not come away a bit let down. We know that Pokémon hasn't always been known for its story, although given that the Blueberry Academy is in Unova, the region where arguably the best Pokémon game story comes from, itâs a little ironic. But the way things wrap up here feels rushed, save for some good character development.
Fortunately, there are plenty of good things about The Indigo Disk. Great things, even. First, the music. Many of the battle tracks in this DLC are remixes of battle tunes from Black & White, and theyâre glorious. And the new songs introduced here range from extremely hummable to downright rocking. Music has long been the seriesâ strong point, but the tracks here also help to make the Terarium one of the best places to explore in the entirety of Scarlet & Violet. The four biomes â savanna, canyon, coastal, and polar â are incredibly unique, packed full of mountains, rivers, flowers, hills, and all sorts of different terrain. It took a while for the game to finally utilise the huge open spaces, but the Terarium takes advantage of that with aplomb.
You can use many of the unnaturally-coloured blocks dotted around the Terarium to platform your way across large gaps and up sprawling mountains. Regional form Pokémon from previous Generations are back. And the new Blueberry Quests â short little reward quests to help build up Blueberry Points (BP) â allow you to utilise all of the gameâs features, from auto-battles to TM crafting and even catching Pokémon. It feels like a little slice of Pokémon Legends: Arceus and the Pokédex tasks.
Itâs a bit of a shame that building up BP is such a grind, then â most early-game quests reward you with between 10-50 BP, with the occasional one awarding 100+, and even climbing the ranks to earn more BP takes a while. Itâs especially noticeable when that BP can be spent on new Ball-throwing forms, decorations for the Leagueâs room, and unlocking more Pokémon in each biome, which can cost anywhere between 50 BP and a whopping 3,000 BP.
The variety of activities on offer in The Indigo Disk are at least pretty refreshing. The Blueberry Quests allows you to dig into your entire kit, and you can eventually unlock flying, meaning you can travel all across Paldea, Kitakami and the Terarium with ease â though flying is incredibly slow. We also love the Synchro Machine, a new device that allows you to run around the Terarium from the perspective of any of your Pokémon, and some of these animations are adorable and hilarious. Please, just explore the Terarium as Komala at some point. You won't regret it.
Ultimately, battles take centre stage in this DLC, even more so than in The Teal Mask. Fighting the Elite Four poses a bit of a challenge if youâre not at the right level, and even then you might have to use one or two more Potions than usual. Add in the fact that every Trainer battle is a Double Battle, and that means you have to think about party composition a bit more. Overall, it's still a ways off the series' hardest battles (think Red in , or even Legends: Arceus' true final boss), and our team was never completely wiped out â even in the tough final fight in Area Zero â but it's a welcome step up the game desperately needed.
So then, we can't ignore the Cufant in the room anymore: performance. No, the performance and visuals haven't been improved â in fact, we think they might be even worse in the Terarium than anywhere else in the game. During cutscenes, the camera would frequently stagger and pause as it panned across the screen. Exploring the Terarium is still sluggish and slow as the frame rate dips frequently as you jump, dive, and glide around the area. The draw distance remains pretty abysmal, and sometimes, youâll see a Pokemon close by that hasn't fully rendered, instead appearing very blocky. Pokémon running into walls, Pokémon spawning in walls â you name it, it's probably there. We hate to bring it up yet again, but with every major update, it feels like Scarlet & Violetâs duct tape is slowly peeling off.
This is, presumably, where the dust settles for Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, which means the future of the series is once again in our view. After spending over 10 hours in the Terarium, we can't fault the gameplay loop of exploration, catching âem all, and taking on tough battles â especially when fan favourites such as starters and Legendaries are up for grabs. Pokémon can likely survive on its grasp of nostalgia forever, and the game is at least fun to play, but once again, this DLC serves us yet another reminder of the flaws of Scarlet & Violet.
The Indigo Disk takes a few steps forward for Pokémon Scarlet & Violet. Thereâs some genuine challenge, a nice variety of activities, and a fun new world to explore in the Terarium; if you love Pokémon, youâll absolutely enjoy whatâs on offer here. But the DLC drops the ball in terms of narrative, offering an unsatisfying and rushed conclusion to Scarlet & Violetâs story, along with the grindy BP system and those ever-present performance issues. Itâs fun at best and disappointing at worst, with a lot of missed potential left on the picnic table.