Pokemon Scarlet and Violet: The Teal Mask DLC Review

The Teal Mask is a welcome return to the world of Pokemon Violet and Scarlet.
pokemon violet scarlet the teal mask dlc review

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet: The Teal Mask has been a long time coming. Nearly a year on from the dual launch of the latest Pokemon generation, it arrives as an addendum, expanding the lore of the original games with a new, bite-sized story that feels largely standalone – yet, it’s a very welcome return.

In the weeks following the launch of Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet, much of the social discourse focussed on the technical performance of the games. While praise was heaped on their dual stories, which focussed on the adventures of school-age Pokemon trainers dealing with bullying and peer pressure, this discussion was often overshadowed by the games’ poor frame rate, texture issues, clipping, and frequent glitches.

Since launch, Pokemon Violet and Pokemon Scarlet have received numerous patches to restore stability and smooth over some of their more egregious quirks – and these have improved the adventures considerably. They’ve also paved the way for The Teal Mask.

Ongoing tweaks and updates have contributed to making this DLC adventure a fuss-free experience, with the new land of Kitakami functioning as a solid backdrop for a fresh tale about perseverance, and the unique perception of kids.

Read: Pokemon Scarlet and Violet review – A shiny, Terastallized gem

For everyone who turned away from Pokemon Violet and Pokemon Scarlet in the unfortunate weeks following their launch, this expansion DLC is a return to form that also functions as a reminder of why Scarlet and Violet are so impactful – despite their many foibles.

Not everything is as it seems

pokemon teal mask
Screenshot: GamesHub

The Teal Mask begins as a neat, segmented continuation from the base plot of Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet, and it can be played at any time. It functions as an in-game ‘school excursion’, with the player character selected to attend a special class trip to the land of Kitakami, a plain filled with myths and legends.

Kitakami isn’t so different from Paldea. It’s got mountain lakes, grassy fields, open plains, and plenty of opportunities for exploring – but it does have its own unique town lore, special customs, and an array of Pokemon you can’t nab in Paldea, making it well worth traversing every corner.

It’s the lore of Kitakami that guides the game’s main tale, as you must uncover the truth behind the tale of the Loyal Three, three Legendary Pokemon who are hailed as heroes in the village, for banishing a strange ogre-beast who briefly terrorised the town.

An early twist reveals this myth is more relevant than it may seem, as players are thrust into a high-stakes quest of rescue, supported by a new cast of characters. Your closest companions in this journey are Carmine and Kieran, two siblings from a mysterious family with secrets aplenty. Both have an innate sense of justice that informs your rapid 5-6 hour quest – and they both love Pokemon battles.

Hopefully, you do as well – as The Teal Mask‘s story is peppered with fights at every stage, testing your mettle, even if you’ve already eclipsed the game’s main story and over-levelled your Pokemon.

Battle academy

pokemon scarlet violet teal mask
Screenshot: GamesHub

Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet feel considerably tougher than their predecessors, with battles in these games feeling like genuine tests of strategy. Type match-ups are tougher, there are more plentiful battles, and enemy trainers always seem to have an edge when it comes to chance attacks.

The Teal Mask continues this tradition, with an array of challengers providing tougher, more frequent fights along your travels. While the central conceit of your time in Kitakami is that you’re on a tourist trip to find three historic sign posts in special locales, this journey is complicated by brutal trainers and a multi-faceted end-game boss array that feels breathless and intense to the DLC’s closing moments.

While this will depend on your Pokemon array – a combination of Skeledirge, Gyarados and Bellibolt made for a particularly handy party in my playthrough – victories against the Teal Mask crew need to be well-earned with blood and tears, even if your Pokemon are in the Level 70-80 range. As far as level-scaling goes, The Teal Mask does it well.

The toughness of battles makes you reconsider your approach, and how many potions and restores you have on hand. Sometimes, it’s a matter of consistently healing, waiting for an opening when move PP runs out, or a particular attack misses by chance.

The tale’s Gigantic battles, which are necessary to advance the main story, are particularly trying. Equally, they’re also incredibly satisfying both in terms of story, and pulling out a fist-pumping victory at the last moment. Pokemon has rarely been so tough – and it’s a core strength of this adventure.

Stepping out into the world

pokemon teal mask
Screenshot: GamesHub

These battles shine brightly in The Teal Mask, as the story clips along at a rapid pace. While there’s a fair amount to do beyond the main plot – catching hundreds of new Pokemon, unlocking new photography challenges, and taking part in a quirky balloon-popping mini-game – it’s really the strength of its story and its related, intense battles that hauls The Teal Mask along.

New companions Carmine and Kieran are very likeable, and their shared desire to live up to a family legacy, while destroying notions of prejudice and misunderstanding, shapes the compelling narrative at the heart of The Teal Mask. They also drive much of the action, as tensions and Pokemon battles ramp up in tandem.

While the whole affair is over in a blink, the moreish adventure of this DLC, the first part of a larger story titled The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero, pushes you along with confidence. Short, sharp, and energetic, this is a DLC chapter with high stakes, and equally high reward.

Four stars: ★★★★

Pokemon Scarlet / Violet: The Teal Mask
Nintendo Switch
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo / The Pokemon Company
Release Date: 13 September 2023

A copy of Pokemon Violet: The Teal Mask was provided and played for the purposes of this review. GamesHub reviews are scored on a 5-point rating scale. GamesHub has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content. GamesHub may earn a small percentage of commission for products purchased via affiliate links.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.