A remake of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team (Nintendo DS) and Red Rescue Team (Nintendo Game Boy Advance), Rescue Team DX is a dungeon exploration game where the player takes direct control of Pokémon. The “mystery dungeon” part of the title is more than just a name; it references the fact that this is the thirtieth game in a series that has included games based on Final Fantasy, Shiren: The Wanderer, Dragon Quest, and more, all of which followed the same basic rogue-like formula.
The plot of the game largely matches the original; a human, you find yourself - for some reason - waking up as a Pokémon. Which Pokémon is up to you - to a point; you can choose from sixteen different options, after which you choose a second Pokémon - from a similar selection - to be your friend. The two of you then form what’s known as a Pokémon Rescue Team; a group that enters dungeons to, well, rescue other Pokémon, for the most part.
Gameplay is presented top-down and is turn-based. The rescue team need to explore each level of a dungeon, working their way either to the exit or to complete one of the (largely “rescue Pokémon”) missions they happen to be on. Missions are collected outside of the dungeons themselves, and it’s quite common to have several missions to complete in any given dungeon. The dungeons themselves appear to be randomly laid out and populated but they’re so generic and forgettable they could be the same each time and my brain automatically scrubs their layouts each time, who knows.
Combat - there’s combat - is not only turn based but also tile based; depending on the positioning of your Pokémon to the enemy Pokémon, for example, you might be able to leverage a ranged attack while they’re not close enough to hit you. This would give the game some strategic depth were it not for the facts that a) aiming your Pokémon is difficult / impossible and b) the controls for the game are terrible.
If you like, you can largely automate combat by simply pressing “A” to attack, and the game will do its best to perform whatever attack it deems appropriate; unfortunately, it sometimes deems “attack this empty square!” or “spin in place” as appropriate, making that option sub-optimal.
You can take direct control of your attacks if you like by holding in the left trigger and selecting from one of four options - this has the added advantage of showing which will be less / more effective for the current matchup but also the disadvantage of being unable to aim the attack at all unless you’re directly adjacent your enemy.
Fortunately, developers Spike Chunsoft realised that actually exploring dungeons with this control scheme was horrible and they’ve given you the option to automate it; press L and your team will charge about automatically, hunting down quest objectives and pickups before finding their way to the stairs. If the AI runs into an enemy, however, you’ll need to take control again. A shame.
There are loads of things to find, most of them dull but necessary. For example, you’ll need to eat occasionally to restore your stamina, your moves will run out of power (PP) so a quick slurp of tonic will be necessary from time to time, and “revive seeds” will be popped on the regular in order that your dumb-dumb team buddies will survive to the end. As the game advances, dungeons get longer, so you’ll need more of these boring things to keep the game going - the sort of thing you’d probably only bother doing because you have to, because you’re reviewing it. Ahem.
There’s also a meta-narrative aspect to the game, which - if you were charitable - you could suggest was some sort of parable about not hating people because they’re different. I’m not, however, so I’m going to suggest it’s babyish gobbledegook and tiresome to click through.
That brings up an interesting observation; the game is an awkward combination of complex mechanics (stamina / power drinks, rogue-like dungeons, etc) and kindergarten presentation - who is this aimed at? It’s either going to be too complex (gameplay) or too simple (presentation) for anyone - what do I know though, I have no kids; maybe this level is ideal for a certain segment of the market.
Ultimately, this game is ideal - in my opinion - for no one. It looks terrible compared to every other Switch game, is repetitive and dull to play, and has a woeful story that frequently takes ages just to click through. If you want a dungeon crawler, the near-perfect Diablo III is a much better option, and the two mainline Pokémon games (Sword & Shield and Let’s Play) are infinitely superior Pokémon experiences. I don’t get why this exists.