It’s said that self-assessment is a very difficult thing. Rarely as human beings do we see ourselves exactly as we are, but rather, a euphemized version of who we imagine ourselves to be. Equal parts convenience and self-preservation, this filter has many purposes, but the end result is the same. There are certain things we can only perceive with the help of an outside perspective or years of self-reflection.
Nowhere is this more evident than with the recent release of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX, a remake of the first entries in the long-running series spin-off, which debuted digitally this month. As with previous iterations, players are put in the shoes of a Pokémon, starring as a human trapped in a Pokémon’s body who must find a cure to escape their bizarre curse. Together with their best buddy (another Pokémon, selected at the beginning of the game), they battle through randomly generated dungeons to rescue Pokémon, earning items and experience points along the way. Pokémon in their community post different jobs at the post office and on the local bulletin board, with various rewards depending on the location and time of day. A stripped-down, less complicated version of the classic Pokémon gameplay, its turn-based battles are based mostly on a simple configuration of attack buttons, and Pokémon are not collected but fought in order to level up as you proceed through the game. Certain actions, like dungeon crawling, can be automated, the maps are fairly straight-forward, and without the series’ traditional fight sequences, there’s little in the way of strategic consideration. It’s for kids, and thus, not a terribly complex game.
But I gotta say, I really expected more from the personality quiz at the beginning of the game. Pitched as a way to find my “style and vibe” by choosing the perfect Pokémon for me to play, I’m disappointed by its lack of depth. The questions are limited and not particularly revealing. You can only take the test once. There are only about 16 possible Pokémon. And if you don’t like the one you’re assigned, you can just choose a different one, neutering the necessity of the entire process anyway. What I long for is a rigorous psychological profile, equal parts Buzzfeed quiz and Rorshach test, that both reveals my Pokémon type and uncovers a deep inner truth that scrambles and realigns my sense of self. What I got instead was the suggestion of Mudkip. Mudkip! A timid water-type that I suspect I was assigned because I truthfully told the quiz that I still sleep with a nightlight. I’ve always seen myself as more of a dual Dark and Fairy type, like a Grimmsnarl, but it’s true that I fear the ocean out of respect. The only thing worse than being assigned Mudkip is that they might actually be right.
My facetious desire for an intuitive Pokémon personality quiz aside, I enjoy Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX. I appreciate Pokémon spin-off games that give us a peek into day-to-day Pokémon life, and the game has a pleasant watercolor visual style that’s equal parts storybook and Charmin toilet paper commercial. I’ve played everything from Pokémon Snap to Detective Pikachu, and yet, those little “cameos” still thrill me. I got a lot of Pokemon on my plate these days but this game allows me to enjoy my favorite Pokemon without playing the same old thing.
That said, if I retake that test and get Mudkip again… I’m claiming Russian interference.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.