This game could have been one of the greatest Pokemon games ever released, and in some aspects it truly is great. having an open world to explore at your leisure, with each of the different bosses you can face in any order you wish, a story that expands as you explore the world and so many new and old Pokemon to catch, train, and master throughout your journey. All of this sounds amazing on paper, and in practice, it does work however there are both minor and major flaws that hold this back from being truly great.
Let's get this out of the way first, this game is ugly and runs very poorly. The art style doesn't fit with the series' usually cutesy anime-like style, the textures are rough and jagged, the environments look completely muddy, barren, and lifeless, and the performance is just horrendous with framerates dipping incredibly low, and the game outright crashing in many instances. This is fully unacceptable and I wouldn't blame anyone for not playing these games due to this.
Other than that though, the game has a focus of freedom, with you able to take on any of the 18 bosses in whatever order you'd like. This is refreshing since it allows you to discover the locals and areas naturally... if the game design trusted you with that. You can see the map as soon as you start your adventure so there was no mystery as to what was being discovered next, outside of the species that lived in the area. Also, each boss was a set level for fighting them, which meant that there was always a definitive order to play this game, so if you went out of order you'd be punished which is straight-up bad game design.
The story was very good though, and felt incredibly fleshed out at least compared to other Pokemon stories in the past. Each character was likable, and the ending to this game was very memorable. The gameplay was the same as always, but I liked the new additions to this game like Terastallizing and the sandwiches, even if the latter looked ugly and stupid.
The new creatures are a highlight, all of which have very strong designs and lore behind them. I personally liked the Wattrel and the Smoliv line the most. To be fair, this is one area that this franchise does very well in my opinion.
In short, this game has so many flaws but does take steps to make a better gaming experience. Of course, Pokemon has been taking steps for over 10 years at this point so I don't blame anyone for being disappointed with this release. That said, I had an enjoyable time with this game and found it to be better than some of the other outings in this franchise on the Switch.