Following on from The Teal Mask, The Indigo Disk is the second half of Pokémon Scarlet/Violet’s The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero DLC. The Indigo Disk packs a lot of new content into Scarlet/Violet’s endgame, with a new area to explore, new Pokémon to catch, and new challenges to overcome. Does The Indigo Disk do enough to wrap up the latest main series Pokémon entry, or have Pokéfans been shortchanged? Let’s take a look.
The Indigo Disk’s story follows on from the events of The Teal Mask, with characters like Briar, Carmine, and Kieran returning. Much of The Indigo Mask takes place at Blueberry Academy, a prestigious seastead school off the shores of Unova, where Carmine and Kieran are students. You transfer into Blueberry and are quickly thrown into its student-run BB League, and are tasked with dispatching its Elite 4 and the Champion.
Indigo Disk’s story is fairly predictable, especially after the less-than-subtle setup of certain characters in Teal Mask. I’m going to avoid spoiling anything, even though there’s really nothing that will shock you here. There is some intrigue surrounding The Indigo Disk’s flagship legendary Pokémon, but by the end of the story, you aren’t given all that many answers. Perhaps the epilogue releasing afterward on January 11th, 2024 might expand on this further, but I wasn’t terribly invested anyway. The Teal Mask had Ogerpon, the most compelling legendary in years, and Indigo Disk just can’t compete.
Pokémon stories are, in my opinion, carried more by characters than plot. In this regard, Indigo Disk does a fine enough job. Carmine and Kieran continue to be something of a mixed bag. Kieran is a trope through and through, and he never really escapes the predictable confines established for his character in Teal Mask. Carmine meanwhile takes a back seat in Indigo Disk, but when she is on-screen she’s a lot more fun than her disappointing brother.
We’ve got some new characters joining the cast for Indigo Disk, the most prominent of which are Blueberry Academy’s Elite 4. The standout here for me was Lacey, the first new Blueberry student you’ll meet and the strongest personality of the four. She’s got some delightfully charming quirks, and I share her philosophy on Pokémon: that cuteness is more important than power. The rest of the Elite 4 are interesting enough, though I don’t think they have much staying power. I don’t anticipate much lasting love for any of Blueberry Academy’s students, but Lacey has the best odds I reckon.
Tales From The Terrarium
Most of your time in The Indigo Disk DLC will be spent in the Terrarium, a specially tailored, artificial environment split into four biomes. I like the concept of the Terrarium, and it’s fairly fun to explore, if only to discover the new selection of returning Pokémon. The four biomes all feel visually distinct, but I do wish there was some more variety compared to the base game. I have a personal hatred for ice biomes, as they tend to be characteristically barren and bland. Pokémon Scarlet/Violet already had a fairly sizable frozen mountain range, we didn’t need another. The Savanna and Canyon biomes are a bit more interesting. The Canyon biome especially is fun to explore and navigate, with plenty of mixed elevation and natural diversity.
Of course, with a new location come new Pokémon. Indigo Disk features over 200 returning Pokémon from previous games, and even a few brand-new additions. The selection is nice and varied, with plenty of fun options for team-building. I decided to play through Indigo Disk with only Pokémon I caught in the Terrarium, which made my run a lot more interesting. I’ve yet to complete the new Pokédex, but it’s a fairly simple task. Much like Pokémon Scarlet/Violet’s original dex, and the Kitakami dex, so long as you have patience and access to a reliable trading partner, or the GTS via Pokémon Home, you’ll have no trouble catching them all.
Becoming A Champion (Again)
The core content of The Indigo Disk is relatively insubstantial. If you have a team ready you could plow through the main story content in about four hours. You’ll get an introduction to Blueberry Academy, then battle through the BB League Elite 4 and Champion, and then there’s a short adventure to wrap things up. Each member of the Elite 4 does have a little trial before their fight, be it concocting a spicy sandwich or answering a short quiz, but these feel more like padding than anything else. I was more interested in exploring the Terrarium and catching new Pokémon, so the short length of the main story didn’t bother me too much, but those looking for a more substantial campaign will be disappointed.
As far as difficulty is concerned, this is a step up from the base game, but it’s still going to be an easy ride for experienced players. There are some interesting twists that make gameplay more engaging, with the preferred style of battle in Blueberry Academy being double battles, and the BB League trainers having competitive team setups. I loved the opportunity to fight in the doubles format, it felt incredibly fresh after Scarlet/Violet’s campaign was dominated by singles. That said, I didn’t struggle with any of the fights in Indigo Disk, even when exclusively using new Pokémon from the Terrarium.
Pokémon games are designed to be broadly approachable, and I think that’s great. The increase in difficulty, whilst not drastic, will definitely be engaging and exciting for more relaxed players. The absence of a battle tower, or high difficulty optional content, is disappointing though. It feels a bit hollow catching and training up a new team and then not having much to do with them outside of multiplayer battles. The Indigo Disk could have offered a lot more with something akin to Pokémon Emerald’s Battle Frontier.
BP, Boring Points
A new currency, BP, arrives with The Indigo Disk. This might get some series’ veterans excited, but these are not Battle Points. These are Blueberry Points, and they’re awful. BP can be used in the League Club Room to unlock some additional content, the most interesting being the option to add all starter Pokémon from previous generations. Unfortunately, acquiring BP is a slow, boring grind.
BP is rewarded for clearing Blueberry Quests. You’re given a rotating list of three quests at any time, and once you complete ten you’ll get a special quest that awards additional BP. The payouts are low, and the quests are insipid. Generally, quests will be simple, repetitive activities like taking a photo of a wild Pokémon, auto-battling Pokémon, or catching Pokémon. I suspect the idea was to reward you with BP for playing as you usually would, but it’s far too easy to get locked into a set of quests you wouldn’t do unless you were focusing on them.
The grind to unlock the starter Pokémon was far too long and far too boring. And in the post-game BP remains relevant, and I find myself having to grind for it pretty consistently. BP is a really useful resource, but actually getting it is the most boring element of The Indigo Disk. There is a decently efficient way to farm BP, but we’ll get to that a little later on. Safe to say it’s not enough to offset how boring this system is.
Outside of the main story, Indigo Disk comes with a slew of side content. Of course, there are the usual side activities like completing the Pokédex, and shiny hunting for those inclined. The Indigo Disk also has more dedicated side content though, mostly tied to BP. Before clearing the story you can customize the look of the League Club Room, change up your Pokéball throwing style, and battle optional trainers dotted about the Terrarium.
Once you clear the story you get access to the more substantial stuff. You’ll be able to invite trainers from Paldea to your club room where you can have some unique conversations with them, battle them, and trade for one of their Pokémon. The option to battle some of Paldea’s gym leaders, but with higher-level teams, is fun. I liked the option to invite some of my favorites, like Iono and Larry, for a bit of battling, even if their teams are still under-optimized compared to what could be done in, say, a battle tower.
The Indigo Disk also adds a bunch of legendary Pokémon from previous generations. You can get these by grinding out BB quests and talking to an NPC at the entrance to Blueberry Academy. Once a legendary Pokémon is unlocked it will appear somewhere in Paldea and then you can go and catch it. No storyline, and no fun quest chain: they just sort of show up. You unlock the option to catch Solgaleo and then it just sits bored and alone atop the Pokémon League building, waiting for you to unceremoniously shove it in a ball. It’s nice that these Pokémon can now be caught in Scarlet/Violet, but it would also be nice to have even just a little bit of effort put into their integration.
Play Together (Or Else)
The Indigo Disk would really like you to play with friends, utilizing the game’s Union Circle mechanic. It wants you to engage with multiplayer so badly that it will gate content if you don’t. That BP grind? Play with friends and it’s drastically reduced via an expanded quest pool (three for every player) and exclusive party quests that reward a fat stack of BP. Don’t want to do a boring solo grind? Pick up a Nintendo Online subscription and do a slightly less boring grind with friends. I suppose you could also gather some friends in physical space and make use of local co-op, but we all know that’s pretty impractical.
Those returning legendaries? Well, there’s a little twist with those. There are 25 returning legendaries tied to the Blueberry Quest system. Playing solo you can catch 13 of them. 18 are version exclusives, 9 for each version, and to get the other version’s exclusives you’ll have to play in a Union Circle with a friend to unlock them in your game. 3 of the legendaries are Union Circle exclusives, not available solo in either version. If you’re after those 3 your only option is getting some friends together. Union Circle does not have random matchmaking, which is a shame as it could make this slightly less annoying. This was also true of Ogre Oustin’ in The Teal Mask. Game Freak seems to have an unwavering opposition to random matchmaking in any situation where it might provide some player utility.
For a lot of people, this reliance on multiplayer won’t be a big problem. For me though, it’s incredibly frustrating. I was the only one of my Pokémon fan friends who stuck with Scarlet/Violet in spite of its glaring issues, and despite my incessant encouragement (begging) none have been compelled to return for the DLC. And it’s not as though grinding some dull quests together with friends is all that appealing anyway. If Game Freak wants Pokémon to be a game that friends get together and play for hours on end, they’re going to have to put together a product that appeals to more than just the most forgiving series fans.
The Floppy Disk
Unforgiving fans are unlikely to be impressed by The Indigo Disk’s technical performance. Even with this final DLC installment and a year of updates, Pokémon Scarlet/Violet still runs like a paralyzed Shuckle. The Terrarium has some frustrating low points for performance, particularly in any area where grass must be rendered. Bugs abound, with the auto-battle function now coming complete with a frequent soft-lock, and wild Pokémon sinking into the ground or phasing out of existence and clipping into geometry.
Things are still pretty rough visually, with muddy textures and barren environments. There’s some area design in the Terrarium, with the aforementioned canyon biome managing to stand out the most. Pokémon models look great, and the design work on the few new additions to the roster is solid, if a bit of a step down from The Teal Mask. Indigo Disk’s flagship legendary is quite disappointing. I’m sure some players will find themselves attached, but I’m not personally all that engaged by a shiny turtle.
The Indigo Disk is a decent enough addition to Pokémon Scarlet/Violet, but it could have been a lot better. The story content is insubstantial, the game’s core performance issues remain, and much of the additional content is impotently integrated and tied to a grueling BP grind. The Indigo Disk is fun, but only because Pokémon is fun. I enjoyed my time with the DLC, with some caveats, which is identical to my experience with Pokémon Scarlet/Violet as a whole. It doesn’t do much to excite, but it serves perfectly fine as simply more Pokémon Scarlet/Violet. If you liked Scarlet/Violet, and want more, this is that. If you’re looking for a significant improvement on Scarlet/Violet, sit tight and hope for a solid Generation 10.
POKÉMON SCARLET/VIOLET: THE INDIGO DISK IS RECOMMENDED
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A man described by critics as “pretty normal” and “memorable in the abstract”. He has committed his life to the consumption of anime and games, against the advice and wishes of his family and friends. Now writing about his passions, hopefully for your enjoyment.