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Pokémon Mystery Dungeon DX review – a sweet but clumsy remake

I am trying to think of what game it was that Pokémon Mystery Dungeon DX reminds me of and honestly, I just cannot remember. Which is apt! Or we’ll make it apt anyway, if you’ll bear with me. It’s apt because Mystery Dungeon is one of those dreamy, trancelike, somewhat transient games. A playable hypnagogia daydream: all quite pleasant while you’re there but then as soon as you leave: poof! It’s gone from memory.

Much of that dreaminess comes from a fairly obvious source. Mystery Dungeon DX is a remaster of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue team games that came out in the early noughties, and one if DX’s headline revisions is how it looks. The pixel art is gone, replaced with a kind of watercolour splash, and as such you’re reminded, a bit, of that classic quest in Oblivion (no that’s not the game I was thinking of) where you’re stuck inside a painting. Then there’s the fact you are literally a human trapped inside the body of a Pokémon, and that you keep having these rather disturbing dreams, and all the contrast and saturation seems to be dialled-up beyond the natural average, and yes. A dream. Slightly magical, slightly unsettling, a tiny bit forgettable, and at the same time a tiny bit of it will be burned into your mind’s eye.

The setup is all very typical for the mystery dungeon crawler. There’s a central town hub, which is small but full of endearing Pokémon roaming around or managing one of a handful of important shops, and then there are the dungeons that you visit for the actual quests. These dungeons have random layouts each time you visit, with wild Pokémon that attack, various traps and obstacles, items to collect, and a friendly Pokémon in need of rescue. The nuance comes in how you manoeuvre your party of Pokémon through the dungeons, ordering them in specific ways for specific circumstances, and in how you manage your inventory, trading off between items you want to keep with you and space for picking up more.

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