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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX Review

From Spike Chunsoft and Nintendo comes Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, a surprise remake of the portable dungeon crawlers enhanced with improved mechanics and gorgeous new aesthetic. After 14 years, does it still hold up?

Verdict

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is an excellent remake which improves upon the original duo of games in myriad ways, yet still remains woefully underbaked when it comes to meaningful mechanics with enough depth to keep you going. As a roguelite dungeon crawler for young players it's really impressive, but genre purists might be let down. Beyond that, this is yet another delightful game which works a treat on Nintendo Switch. 

Pros

  • Colourful and charming visuals
  • Recruiting your Rescue Team is fun and rewarding
  • Progression feels solid and meaningful
  • Faithful to the original in a bunch of great ways

Cons

  • Lacking in challenge
  • Controls aren't very responsive in dungeons
  • Quest design grows repetitive too quickly

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £49.99
  • Release Date: March 6th, 2020
  • Genre: Roguelite
  • Developer: Spike Chunsoft
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch

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Pokemon is no stranger to spin-off experiences. Outside of the main series, developers around the world have found ample reasons to explore this franchise beyond its turn-based origins, and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is one such excursion.

Acting as a remake of 2005’s Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team, Nintendo has done a commendable job adapting them for the modern age, enhanced by a gorgeous new aesthetic and additional mechanics which do a decent job of trimming the mundane fat which can dominate a lot of tasks you’ll be tackling throughout.

While enjoyable, Mystery Dungeon does leave something to be desired in the end, feeling slow-paced and archaic fifteen years after its initial inception. 

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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX

Mystery Dungeon DX begins with a quiz. You’re asked a series of innocent questions, culminating in the game presenting a Pokemon which it believes best fits with your personality. My result was Machop, which is not at all accurate, and given there was no Vulpix to be seen, I instead opted for Pikachu. After all, you can’t go wrong with the classics. 

From here, you discover you’re a human who has been mysteriously transformed into a Pokemon, forced to forge a new life in the wilderness. It’s a compelling premise, and being the fish out of water in a world full of talking monsters allows you to discover and appreciate how they exist, and what ecosystems are so important to Pokemon that decide against living alongside humans. 

It turns out Pokemon prosper by helping each other out, and this is made possible by forming a Rescue Team with your partner. After helping a Pokemon of your choosing out of a scrape, your partner suggests you form a Rescue Team – an organisation which exists to help fellow creatures in a bind. Whether they’re after a specific resource or looking to help a friend trapped on a mountain’s peak, you’re always there to help. 

Starting off with just two Pokemon, your Rescue Team will eventually evolve into a sprawling community of different members existing across a variety of habitats. After a handful of hours, you’ll be diving into dungeons with a legion of friends by your side, wiping out enemies with no trouble at all, while hoovering up resources and completing quests. It’s an enjoyable time, but one that proved far too easy throughout my playthrough. 

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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX

Mystery Dungeon DX is a roguelite where the majority of your time will be spent exploring dungeons with multiple floors, completing quests that often involve obtaining specific items or rescuing fellow Pokemon. Once all missions are completed, you can automatically teleport to safety. For the opening handful of hours, this formula is rinsed and repeated several times alongside some cute yet conventional story quests.

The battle system takes a lot of inspiration from Game Freak’s RPG series, with each Pokemon capable of performing four moves at any given time. Many of these are positional, possible depending on where you’re placed on the tile-based layout of each dungeon. You’d think some meaningful strategy would be implemented, but most battles are steamrolled by your allies or completed by mashing the ‘A’ button, where I watched Pikachu beat most foes to a pulp with minimal effort.

Such a lack of challenge is disheartening at first, but Mystery Dungeon DX feels designed to be played in short bursts, with you hacking through a handful of quests and story missions before calling it a day. In this context, it’s a charming delight, but treat it any more seriously and you’ll likely come away underwhelmed. There simply isn’t enough here for hardcore RPG lovers, acting instead as a great starting point for young gamers obsessed with Pokemon or curious about the genre.

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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX

Outside of dungeons you have a small town to explore, which expands alongside the main story with a handful of useful shops to peruse. There’s a bank to store hard-earned money so it’s not lost in dungeons, or a dojo which can be used to power level specific members of your party. Among other places, there’s also a post offfice which is essentially a portal for accessing other players and delving into dungeons alongside them.

The element that kept me coming back was my Rescue Team’s rank, which slowly but surely increased with each completed quest. It can be slow going sometimes, but each new level brings with it some truly meaningful changes.

Increased inventory space, party size and other bonuses make the overall experience more enjoyable, superseding the tedium that dominates the game’s early stages. There’s nothing worse than running out of item space at the start of a dungeon, turning once precious loot into useless dregs.

Dialogue is also achingly cute, complimented by an aesthetic which feels like a moving watercolour painting. It’s beautiful, executed in a way that’s perfectly fitting of the game’s overall tone. I loved every little morsel of dialogue and tongue-in-cheek character development, especially the “evil” rescue teams who think the ultimate bad deed is helping people before you have a chance to.

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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX

You can customise the movesets of each individual Pokemon, who earn new moves as you level up, but this can become a chore as your party grows larger and larger, where you’ll likely settle on a preferred squad and seldom touch anyone else. Such a granular level of management is a lovely touch, yet it clashes against the simplistic nature of dungeon exploration and battling. Some players will love it though, especially hardcore completionists that the series is renown for attracting.

Verdict

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is an excellent remake which improves upon the original duo of games in myriad ways, yet still remains woefully underbaked when it comes to meaningful mechanics with enough depth to keep you going. As a roguelite dungeon crawler for young players it’s really impressive, but genre purists might be let down. Beyond that, this is yet another delightful game which works a treat on Nintendo Switch.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

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