Pokemon Scarlet and Violet's first DLC The Teal Mask has been released welcoming players to visit a second region for the first time in Pokemon history since the second generation of Pokemon and their remakes.
The Teal Mask brings with it new Pokemon to catch, an entertaining story to participate in, and a handful of technical issues.
It's a Whole New World We Live In
Loading up Pokemon Scarlet and Violet after downloading the DLC, you'll immediately be called to the Academy and informed you've been selected to go on a very exclusive field trip to the Kitakami Region.
Setting out immediately with your professor and three generic students (that never even get named), you find yourself in this new region. Before The Teal Mask tries forcing you into the story, you're given the chance to experience the Pokemon newly available in the region.
Spinarak, Poocheyena, Cutiefly, and more Pokemon that haven't previously been available now surround you. For someone always striving towards completing their Livingdex, seeing so many Pokemon with '???' above their heads was the perfect buy-in.
Ogerpon, The Teal Mask, And The Three Noble Pokemon
The story of The Teal Mask revolves around the joint field trip between your version Academy and the Blueberry Academy, a location we already know we'll be visiting in next year's Indigo Disk DLC.
In Kitakami, you meet Carmine and Kieran, the brother-sister pair from the Blueberry Academy but natives to Kitakami. Over the course of this story, you'll learn the fable of the Ogre and the three Noble Pokemon, how it relates to Carmine and Kieran's family, and how real events can be distorted by myth.
This story is light-hearted but also filled with strong character moments as you bond with the competent Carmine… and seem to continually belittle her brother, albeit accidentally, over the course of the story. I was originally worried about leaving behind established characters like Penny and Arvin but was immediately invested in the tale that the siblings presented.
The story prompts a healthy amount of world exploration, guided storytelling, and split objectives to make players always feel in control of this adventure. The complete DLC might only take 5-6 hours to complete, but story-wise it's surprisingly compelling.
Without saying too much, I'll also add that the story and its ending has me very interested in visiting Blueberry Academy next year in The Indigo Disk.
Environmental Storytelling In The Teal Mask
An interesting theme I realized about the Pokemon I was seeing in the wild early on, that was continually reinforced as I explored the Kitakami Region, was that a lot of the Pokemon that you encounter are either from Gen 1 or 2, or are related to them. You'll see Koffing and Pichu, but also Munchlax to fill out the families.
Before you even get invested in the folklore of the land, an amusing Pokemon adaptation of Momotaro, the Pokemon you'll see immediately make you understand you're close to the Kanto or Johto region.
Unlike the DLC from Pokemon Sword and Shield that always felt samey, traveling to Kitakami nails the feeling of being somewhere completely new.
This storytelling continues as you encounter new forms of Pokemon like the Ursaluna Bloodmoon form that you're introduced to by a long descendant of Adaman, leader of the Diamond Clan from Pokemon Legends Arceus.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet's Issues Are In The Foundation
The shortcomings players will experience throughout the entire Teal Mask DLC is the same issue that we remarked on during our original review of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet: the game is plagued by technical issues.
Players making their way through the Kitakami region will likely find themselves consistently plagued by framerate issues, strange lighting effects, and awkward animations. Beautiful panning shots of the mask festival are hard to enjoy when characters fanning themselves are moving at 2 frames a second looking more like a metronome than a human.
I couldn't quite tell if it was just that I hadn't played Pokemon Scarlet and Violet in a while, but I felt that the performance issues were even worse in this DLC. While the region itself is smaller, there is definitely an increased presence of grass that seems to coincide with a lot of the frame drops.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet - The Teal Mask Review | Final Thoughts
I had a blast in my adventures through the Kitakami region and I look forward to finishing writing this review and diving right back in to hunt for more Pokemon I'm missing. This DLC is just enough new, while just enough familiar, that it's easy to jump into even after not playing Scarlet or Violet for months.
While I was a fan of the story and the relationships I made with Carmine and Kieran, I was even more impressed with the subtle storytelling of the region. Fans of Pokemon are subtly introduced to where Kitakami might lie in the grand world of Pokemon.
The most frustrating aspect of The Teal Mask, and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet as a whole, is the performance issues. It's clear there's not a single culprit that can be pointed at; instead, this issue is foundational. I can't wait to play The Indigo Disk in 2024, but at the same time I'm not looking forward to another broken experience.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet DLC The Teal Mask was purchased by the reviewer for the purpose of this review and experienced over 7 hours. All pictures were taken during the course of this review.
- Concise storytelling
- Regional Pokemon tell a story
- Some of the worst performance