Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is a very ugly game, a fact that has gone universally uncontested since the game came out in November. One modder solved this problem in an unusual way: by turning Pokémon into Elden Ring summons in The Lands Between.
Summons are spirit-like companions that you can conjure in Elden Ring, which makes your character sort of like a Pokémon trainer if you think hard about it. And the new summons look great! The atmospheric lighting is doing so many favors for the Pokémon of Paldea, which didn’t really get a chance to shine because of S/V’s awful graphics. And the Pokémon Centers look a lot more intimidating once the modder relocated them on top of massive Walking Mausoleums. The Pokémon are massive enough to feel threatening, and that was before I realized that the Meowscarada just stabbed a trainer through the chest. You thought being chased by Bisharp in Paldea was bad? At least they’re not executing fatalities on you. Or maybe the wildlife were just taking it easy on you in Scarlet and Violet for being a kid. Once you’re adult-aged, it’s open season time.
Here’s my favorite part of the mod: It uses clothing textures from Scarlet and Violet. This means that Melina and the Tarnished are running around in school uniforms that are too awkwardly proportioned for their adult bodies. So every shot that features human characters makes me feel like I’m watching someone’s fever dream. Kotaku reached out to the modder to ask whether or not they intend to release Paldea Ring to the general public, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Is it fair to compare a Nintendo Switch game to a multiplatform AAA title, especially one that had been in development for five years? Probably not. But the mod trailer is so well made that I find myself mourning what Legends: Arceus and Scarlet and Violet could have been. I’m not alone in this. “This is what 12 year old me thought Pokémon would look like in 2020,” wrote one Twitter user. “This is almost exactly what Pokemon Scarlet Violet should have been,” wrote another.
It’s easy to see why fans would react this way. Scarlet and Violet released last year as a buggy mess. Background NPCs caused stutters for no reason, Pokemon clipped through the ground, and the camera didn’t always follow the player. Personally, I think the bigger crime was being an ugly game. There was very little visual cohesion holding Paldea together. Environment design evidently wasn’t on top of the priority list when the game had much bigger technical issues working against it.
I understand why Game Freak will never release a game where you can actually sic a Skeledirge against other trainers. But please: I’m just asking for some spooky mood lighting and better textures.