So I recently got to finishing this game. I have to say, this was definitely worth the money I spent and it quickly became my favorite 3ds title. However, I wanted some way to share my thoughts and from some research, I've seen this got quite a bunch of mixed reactions from both fans and critics alike so I wanted to see if I can give a little bit of insight of what you're getting into. This is more from a fan's perceptive being by far my favorite sub-series of all time. Basically, a mini-review/analysis.
So Mystery dungeon if you're not aware, is a rogue-like game (like Nethack) in which you become a Pokemon who meets up with a partner of your choice and you get to form a rescue team where you explore randomly generated dungeons. You'll be leveling yourself up while learning different moves, finding resources vital to proceed further, and rescuing other Pokemon for rewards.
Unlike other Pokemon games, Mystery dungeon is known to having a competent story with phenomenal presentation, great characters, and an epic atmosphere/setting. So, what is it about this installment that's getting it quite a bit of backlash? Well, personally, I think it's just the fact that it gives a very different feel. But let's go over both pros and cons
Now, I mean no offense to anyone when I say this, but forget everything that everyone says about this being 'lackluster.' The story is really good. Just like every game in this series, it takes a while to pick up on the story, but when it does, just by god it's really good. It is true that it's not nearly as 'dark' as the previous games, but it's great on what it was trying to go for. Unfortunately I can't really say anything else without spoiling anything but take my word for it.
The only problem is that, it's short. At least in comparison to PMD2, it is really short. It might be a problem to those who don't really like replaying their games every now and them, but I never really saw the time span of a game to really be an issue as long as it keeps me engaged, which for the most part, it does.
This is probably it's biggest highlight of the entire game in comparison to the others. I hear people say it was 'oversimplified' or 'nerfed down.' I have to heavily disagree, in my eyes, the gameplay is at it's best in this one then the rest of the series.
The ideal of a rogue-like game is to make a completely randomize situation in order to have you, as the player, to adapt to what is thrown at you. The ideal to make it enjoyable is to make sure that nothing thrown would cause unneeded frustration nor what is given to you to be entirely broken. This might take a bit to explain how this game does it right.
At the start of the game, there is no personality test and instead you are given the options of an Unova starter, Pikachu, or Axew and you can make your partner a Pokemon listed before you did not choose. Some might be thrown off by this and at first I was thrown off by this, but later, I realized that it was for the overall better. Why? In PMD2 the first Pokemon I got from the personality was Phanphy. While playing through I'll tell you something, it sucked (at least for PMD2's gameplay.) So it forced me to get rid of my save and I got Shinx the second time. It was admittedly broken, yet I still had fun with it. However, in PMD3, though it's a little limited, each of the Unova starters do have diverse move-pools and ways to go over their weaknesses, by picking any of these Pokemon, you shouldn't feel like you're in a hole at any time forcing you to delete your file like in PMD2 and I like that. The move-pools and your choices depend on what you see the game throws at you. The real problem I had with this is that you can't pick gender.... seriously? I mean, it's a small complaint, but... really?
So why only the Unova starters, Pikachu, and Axew? Well, this is something I'm also going to be honest with. The truth is, except for Pikachu (Edit; also Umbreon, Espeon, Dunsparce, and a couple randomly placed villains that are accessible later such as Salemence, Crogunk, and Purugly) there are only gen 5 Pokemon even in post-game. Now, I personally don't mind this since gen 5 still has my favorite roster which I think have very interesting concepts and designs. But take note of that.
Now, when you're in a dungeon, you'll realize that there are things that have significantly changed, but I think overall for the better.
The first thing I found was the ability to swap attack. You know how if you're going through a corridor and you have to swap places to allow your partner to attack something out of your league? Well, in this game, the swapping doesn't count as your partner's turn so therefore he can attack right away. This leaves room for some unique strategies. There is also the changed mechanic of speed where it doesn't change how many times you attack, but it actually just increases traveling speed. Basically, you can move 2 squares before your opponent has a chance to respond. This can allow you to avoid random encounters, get a preemptive strike, set up your group around one enemy, or even flee from battle (especially since they fixed the BS AI that targets in on you when they spotted you once)
Oh god, so much has switched I can't possibly go over all of them without going into great detail so I'll briefly bullet them and leave something short to show why I feel it's beneficial to the overall gameplay.
-hunger is gone (good, I'm tired of bringing apples as part of my weight)
-Team skills (no longer do you have to hunt for gummies for EVERY new Pokemon you recruit so they grow common sense. Instead, they're acquired by treasure boxes you find in the dungeon and it goes on every new and old recruit to your team)
-Experience for everyone! (Everyone on standby gets the same amount of experience. You remember that request you wanted to do but never got to because you didn't feel like leveling up *insert Pokemon here*? No longer an issue, you can use whoever you recruited whenever you want)
-Weather makes legit challenge (Yeah, hunger was a real fake way to add difficulty. Wanna hear something actually difficult? Weather effects that start up on a floor that no matter what will make you unable to heal. You'll find yourself desperately trying to find the stairs using your resources up)
TL;DR It fixes up the problems that made the other titles incredibly tedious and difficult for all the wrong reasons in order to make way for a randomized system that will legitimately challenge you at times.
The biggest and best feature though is the inclusion of paradise. It's your home which your partner called 'paradise.' It's basically like Harvest Moon in a PMD game. You can expand it to get resources you need, room for recruits, and it's overall very satisfying watching your own personalized home expand to something great. I love it!
The only gripe I have is that the request board allows one mission at a time which makes material gathering feel tedious at times. (At least they got rid of escort posts -_-)
There's still more but it feels like they made this feel accesible to both fans, and non-fans making very enjoyable gameplay for all instead of just people who can put up with annoying shit that shouldn't belong in the first place.
The introduction to 3d is gorgeous and it makes it overall feel more immersive, and I love it. The music is still spectacular and portrays the emotion of each situation just like the others. Throughout the game, you'll be humming the tracks, crying tears of joy, and even feeling fustration. And the characters are still very likable also showing signs of development throughout.
But this is the part where it might be a letdown for some. There is way too much text. Way too much to the point of being boring and even intolerable in some areas. I found myself distracted at times because of this and sometimes restarting the game to see what actually happened again (The save points were everywhere so it wasn't much of a problem restarting) This is probably the biggest flaw with the game and I'm aware that a large number of people get completely turned off by this so consider it a heads up.
I can honestly see the mixed reception. Though I do love it, I can see how it's flawed. It's main contributor comes from how short the main story/post game is and it's diologue.
But from my experience, I will say it's a fantastic game. If for some reason, you got turned off by the gameplay of the previous games, I highly recommend trying this one to get you into the series which I think it's what they were going for, to make it more accessible to all.
It does have a very different feel to it but I'm very glad I bought and went through the game. I don't think it's as good as PMD2, but I do feel it's great for what it was trying to go for.