Pokemon Scarlet & Violet haven’t been without their faults, from lagging framerates to a post-game devoid of anything meaningful to do. At times, it feels like this game was designed specifically to be streamed, with Shiny Hunting the only thing semi-worth doing after a point. However, I didn’t hate the game until The Teal Mask DLC, which turned my character into an unsalvageable jerk.
I am a die-hard, life-long fan of the Pokemon franchise, but my disgust and fury at the requirements of the DLC left me reeling, and it was a miserable, shame-filled journey I would love to bleach from my brain. I’ve never been forced to play a jerk who shreds a character down to the point of inducing a villain arc. I’ve never been required to befriend a disgusting bully of a sibling who dismisses her brother’s needs and feelings with no other purpose than to cause drama. I am horrified, and angry, that I spent money to visit Kitakami.
Kieran Gets The Shortest End of The Stick in The Teal Mask
I had pretty low expectations of Pokemon Scarlet & Violet The Teal Mask after booting it up and realizing it ran with less grace than the base game. My hopes were lifted when I was introduced to Kieran and started exploring his story. As someone who enjoyed the DLC for Sword & Shield, I was eager to see what new adventures or side mechanics might be added in Kitakami.
However, I started to feel uncomfortable right away as I was forced to watch interactions between Kieran and his monster of a sister, Carmine. Filled with an unjustifiable amount of competitive rage that painted her as evil Nemona, Carmine was outright cruel to her brother, and I realized I wanted nothing to do with her.
My horror only grew as I was continuously subjected to her cold, heartless attitude toward her brother – Picking on him for his personality, calling him out for his anxiety, and forcing my character to pick sides between herself and Kieran. As I became his friend, I realized that Kieran had to be miserably lonely, and this was only backed when he shared his story about Ogerpon to my character and began to open up.
It felt like Game Freak was barking the storyline at me, and I was simply along for the ride, as I got to the festival in the Scarlet & Violet DLC, I realized this was a one-track train, and we careening toward a stone wall.
Scarlet & Violet Made Me Lie For The Sake of “Plot”
One of the joys of Pokemon, in most of the games, is that players can imagine their character freely. Players can create a narrative about the main character’s motives, goals, hopes, and dreams. One thing that Scarlet & Violet promised its players was a world more open and filled with choices. With that said, I want to ask why on earth I was forced to follow a linear storyline that required me to lie to a character with no other options.
When you reach the point in the Scarlet & Violet DLC where Carmine asks you to lie to Kieran for “his own good” about the true story of Ogerpon, I got so angry, that I closed my Switch and didn’t touch the DLC for months. I had no choice, I had to lie to him to progress the story. I had to play nice with this pile of garbage sister to continue the dull, fetch-quest storyline. I had to lie to this anxious kid who had confided in my character, destroy his trust in me, and somehow pretend that he was the one in the wrong.
While players did technically destroy Hop’s hopes and dreams in Sword & Shield, he was a consenting party in the storyline, understood his role as another trainer competing for the Championship, and grew into his own person. With Kieran, it felt like a cold betrayal, and I was helpless to watch as he devolved into himself as Carmine’s lies were exposed, taking my character with them.
Forcing A Moral Choice On Players Is Bad Writing
When stories like the Scarlet & Violet Teal Mask DLC force players to make serious, moral choices in a world designed to promote player freedom, it feels like bad writing. Instead of allowing the player to decide who they tell when they learn the truth about Ogerpon, they are required to follow an outcome predetermined by the developers. Plot points are delivered via fetch quests and force-fed dialogue streams with no engagement, making the player feel like a bystander to their adventure, instead of an active participant.
This entire DLC could have been a completely different experience if Game Freak had created a true system of choice, allowing the player to pick either Carmine or Kieran’s story path, eventually impacting who would be in which role for The Indigo Disk. I wanted to side with Kieran, I wanted to support his choices and help him feel more confident, and I did not want to share some forced “friendship” scene at the end of The Teal Mask with Carmine.
If the idea was to generate understanding with Carmine in Scarlet & Violet, especially at the end when she stops shaking and screaming at you, it’s not believable, because players don’t have a choice in how they are meant to view her. As she walked away and said we’d meet again, I said aloud “I hope not”.
I Am Team Kieran in Scarlet & Violet
I truly hope that in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet The Indigo Disk, we have a chance to somehow apologize to Kieran for the main character’s behavior. For beating them down in required battle after required battle, and then catching Ogerpon directly in front of them after crushing their spirit to bits.
At this point, I don’t understand why the player character was allowed to keep Ogerpon, or why Kieran, who fought for its story, didn’t get that right. I don’t want this Pokemon, I don’t deserve it, and I will never be able to use it knowing that I steamrolled this poor kid to get it.
I am disgusted by this entire story for Pokemon Scarlet & Violet. I am detached from my playable character and am ready to eject my consciousness into a Pokemon in The Indigo Disk to get away from the body that became a bully to progress a plotline.
I hope Pokemon does better in future games because this is not an experience I am willing to pay money to go through a second time. Players deserve better, and as a longtime fan of the franchise, I sure hope they get it.