Last week, while in New York City at the Nintendo Holiday Showcase event, I had the opportunity to play several different upcoming games for the holiday on Nintendo Switch. And, Detective Pikachu Returns was one of the games I got to play. After spending 30 minutes with the game, I was even more intrigued and wanted to play more.
Luckily, this past week, I have been doing just that—playing more, a lot more. This sequel to the well-received original on the 3DS, along with its live-action movie adaptation, continues the tale of Tim Goodman and his partner, Detective Pikachu. Let’s jump into the world of Detective Pikachu Returns, where mysteries, humour, and Pokémon await.
Detective Pikachu Returns Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Publisher(s): Nintendo, The Pokémon Company, Nintendo of America Inc.
Modes: Single Player
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Return to Ryme City, continuing the mystery
Detective Pikachu Returns serves as a direct follow-up to its predecessor, providing a glimpse into the events that transpired several years ago. Protagonist Tim Goodman’s relentless quest to find his father remains at the heart of the game’s story, intricately linked to Detective Pikachu’s past. For those unfamiliar with the first Detective Pikachu game, it shares similarities with the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series.
You and your partner must tackle a series of cases, taking time to gather evidence and ponder over solutions. However, in Ryme City, things are rarely as straightforward as they seem, and solving cases requires you to put your thinking cap on. The game’s narrative kicks off with a captivating jewel theft case that sends shockwaves through Ryme City.
One of the early cases stands out as a perfect introduction to the series. It showcases the dynamic between Tim and Pikachu as they delve into the mysteries surrounding a jewel heist. The case leads them to an unlikely creature and raises questions about how it ended up at the crime scene. The dry humour in these interactions adds a unique charm that’s often missing in the mainline Pokémon games.
Investigation and Puzzle-Solving
Detective Pikachu Returns features puzzles of varying complexity, with the fluidity of navigation occasionally falling short of perfection. There are moments where characters inadvertently pass through each other, and the dialogue with characters and Pokémon may not always capture your attention. However, the game shines in its meticulously crafted cutscenes. The Pokémon cast takes center stage, seamlessly blending into the game’s environment. The voice acting, particularly Detective Pikachu’s raspy and rugged voice, stands out as an endearing contrast to his cute appearance.
The encounters with Ryme City’s diverse Pokémon populace are some of the most memorable moments in Detective Pikachu Returns. Each encounter is filled with hijinks and mystery, offering a deeper look into the multifaceted world of Ryme City’s inhabitants.
Gameplay and exploration
Similar to its predecessor, Detective Pikachu Returns offers a slow-paced exploration of various city areas. The gameplay loop involves exploring, gathering clues, speaking with individuals of interest, and formulating hypotheses. In this sequel, you have the opportunity to play as both Tim and Pikachu, each offering a unique perspective and interaction with the Pokémon world. Pikachu’s ability to communicate with other Pokémon adds humor and depth to the gameplay that quite often had me laughing and a huge smile on my face.
The addition of Quick Time Events (QTEs) and new gameplay mechanics provides a welcome change of pace during investigations. You can now witness Pikachu riding various Pokémon to aid in investigations, offering a fresh perspective on solving cases. However, some backtracking may be required due to the nature of investigations and returning to crime scenes.
New Pokémon and perspectives
The game introduces new Pokémon, including Bellossom, Cutiefly, Corviknight, Lickitung, Meowth, Slowpoke, Venonat, and Luxray. Luxray brings a unique investigation mechanic that allows players to analyze scenes by seeing through walls, adding depth to later investigations. Detective Pikachu Returns explores a world beyond the traditional Pokémon trainer narrative, providing a refreshing perspective on how Pokémon coexist with humans.
While Detective Pikachu Returns visually is a step up from recent Pokémon games, it looks like the developers may have reused models and assets from the 3DS game with a bit of resolution boost on the Nintendo Switch. The character models, while faithful to their Pokémon origins, lack the detail that the Nintendo Switch is capable of achieving.
Despite this, Detective Pikachu Returns still offers an engaging and enjoyable experience. The game’s captivating narrative, endearing characters, and unique perspective on the Pokémon universe more than make up for this.
Detective Pikachu Returns offers a refreshing departure from traditional Pokémon games
At the end of the day, Detective Pikachu Returns is a delightful follow-up that expands upon the world of Tim and Pikachu. While the sequel plays it safe by delivering a similar experience to its predecessor, the ability to see events from Detective Pikachu’s perspective adds a new and often hilarious dimension to the game. This game offers a refreshing departure from the traditional Pokémon trainer narrative, allowing you to explore the broader world of Ryme City.
While the mainline Pokémon series may tread familiar ground, it’s exciting to see developers like Creatures focus on the rich tapestry of this universe. Detective Pikachu Returns offers a captivating blend of mystery, humour, and Pokémon, making it a worthwhile addition to the franchise.
+ Compelling and engaging narrative that keeps you invested in solving mysteries
+ Playing as Pikachu offers a fresh perspective and often humorous experience
+ The voice acting, especially Detective Pikachu’s raspy voice, adds charm
– Required backtracking to solve mysteries can become repetitive at times
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF DETECTIVE PIKACHU RETURNS
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5