Pokémon Quest is a traditional mobile collect 'em up that's launched early on Nintendo Switch ahead of its mobile release in about a month's time. It doesn't quite offer enough to fill the Pokémon-shaped void on your Switch, but it's more than good enough to plug the gap between now and November, when Pokémon: Let's Go Pikachu! and Let's Go Eevee! will basically reduce it to redundancy.
You play as a Pokémon Trainer who's exploring the recently discovered Tumblecube Island. It's an apt title given how everything – be it Pokémon, tree, or cooking pot – is shaped like a cube. It all combines to create a visual style that's best described as a cuter version of Minecraft.
As soon as you land on Tumblecube Island, you get to pick your starting Pokémon. Pokémon Quest only contains the first generation right now, so your options are limited to the likes of Pikachu, Charmander, and Squirtle. You know, the core Pokémon of the first generation.
Once you've chosen, it's time to set off on your adventure, which is made up of a series of expeditions across the various regions of the island. Well, you don't actually do anything besides watch your Pokémon do all the heavy lifting. It will run around a small area defeating waves of enemies entirely without input from you, and the level ends when you beat a boss. To be fair, you can tap on their moves to make them unleash them and order them to temporarily run away, but that's it.
At this point you're probably wondering what the point is, but this is the nature of mobile games, which are typically designed to play themselves while you're busy doing something else. Much like in Pokémon GO, your role is strictly managing your collection of Pokémon.
In between battles you can cook a variety of meals that will attract new Pokémon to your base camp, at which point you can befriend them and add them to your team. That's only if they're worth it though. While Pokémon Quest doesn't have the statistical depth of the core Pokémon RPGs, the different 'mons do have their own HP and attack scores that will affect their combat power.
On top of this, they have nine Power Stone slots, which you can fill to increase their stats. These are arguably more important than even their base stats. Most slots can either be filled by an HP stone or an attack stone, though you can rarely come across a slot that lets you fill it with either. If you have too many of one and not enough of the other, the Pokémon is basically rendered useless.
You've also got the Pokémon's moves, which are selected at random when you collect them. These aren't quite as important, as you can change a bad move fairly easily, but not all Pokémon are created equally, and some will only have a single move. Moves also sometimes have a Power Stone slot or two, that let you alter it in a variety of different ways.
The system is a more casual affair than even Pokémon GO, but there is enough depth for those that aren't quite satisfied by just collecting Pokémon and making them run errands. It's also simple enough for an amateur to pick up, and they might find themselves paying more attention to their Pokémon's stats than they first thought. That puts them in good stead for when the core entries launch.
That basically sums up the core loop of Pokémon Quest. Send your mon on adventures to collect ingredients and Power Stones, cook up meals to attract new Pokémon, and equip your team with Power Stones to increase their power. Rinse and repeat.
And it's as compelling as you'd expect from a Pokémon game – at least when it lets you play. This is a free-to-play game with all of the trappings you can expect. That means an energy system and progress that slows to an absolute crawl until you splash the cash.
To its credit, this isn't a money sink. Pay £26.99 ($29.99) for the entire DLC collection and it speeds up drastically. The energy system doesn't go anywhere, but you get plenty of free PM Tickets (the virtual currency) from completing challenges, and it's super cheap to recharge.
The only other content you can actually spend money on are Power Stones, but you can collect these by playing anyway. In fact, you can unlock most of the content by playing and hoarding your PM Tickets if you so wish. It will take you a fair while, and you'll only ever have a single cooking pot, but the option is there if you're really resistant to splashing the cash.
Pokémon Quest is a fun little time waster that will satisfy your collect 'em all urges until the real deal launches on Switch in November. This is, for all extents and purposes, a free-to-play mobile game though, so you will have to splash the cash if you want to get the most out of it, but it's far from a money sink. You can get everything you need in a single purchase, or unlock most of it slowly by playing for free. It's one of the most generous freemium systems out there. Overall, it's a great jumping off point for new fans of the series, and the cutesy art style just might win over veterans. Give it a shot.