Detective Pikachu™ Returns
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Detective Pikachu™ Returns review

Pokemon's enduring success relies heavily on its generation-crossing appeal. The primary series of creature-collecting RPGs and the popular Trading Card Game (TCG) offer enough simplicity for younger children learning the ropes of RPG mechanics while providing the complexity needed for adult gamers to immerse themselves. However, Pokemon's spin-offs usually cater to a more specific demographic. This holds true for Detective Pikachu Returns, a game with a heavy narrative focus, ideally designed for younger Pokemon enthusiasts due to its straightforward and gentle nature.

A Tale of a Young Detective and His Sassy Pikachu

Just like its predecessor, the game positions you as Tim Goodman, the university-going offspring of distinguished detective Harry Goodman, who vanished mysteriously. Your gaming companion is a self-claimed detective Pikachu (in a stylish deerstalker hat) who tags along as Harry's former associate. Tim, being the sole human with a unique ability to understand Pikachu, becomes inevitably embroiled in curious mysteries unfolding in Ryme City while seeking answers about his missing father.

Child-Friendly Crime-solving in an Urban Paradise

Pedestrian crime-solving mechanics complement the thrilling narrative. Your sleuthing journey bestrides scoping out crime scenes for clues, cross-referencing information from witnesses, and making reasoned conclusions. The game maintains a family-friendly environment, dwelling on non-violent crimes like jewel theft, arresting the wrong Pokemon, and more. Remarkably, the city respected for its harmonious existence between humans and Pokemon considers any disagreements between Pokemon as calamitous, thereby minimizing in-game violence to nil.

Unraveling the Mysteries of Ryme City

Ryme City exudes urban vivaciousness and peaceful coexistence between Pokemon and humans. Nonetheless, the in-game exploration often feels disconnected from the city's pulsating realities. The gameplay covers a small cityscape along with a few outliers. The city locations generally lack the hustle and bustle of city life save for a handful of humans and Pokemon that Tim interacts with. Most interactions are mission-critical, and the rest are mostly simple side quests, like finding a Pokemon capable of opening a jar.

Puzzle-solving Made Easy

The game's puzzle-solving mechanisms are designed to be accessible and uncomplicated. It ensures gamers never miss any vital evidence and safeguards against any erroneous conclusions by giving clear indications when enough evidence has been gathered. The game simplifies deduction through a visual flowchart where players can make choices through a platform reminiscent of primary school-level quizzes where one multiple-choice answer is deliberately incorrect to aid learning. There are no penalties for wrong answers; it merely prompts a retry.

Aesthetics and Graphics

The visuals of Detective Pikachu Returns are simple, complementing the simplistic gameplay, and the assortment of Pokemon featured in the game looks exceptionally appealing in this visual style. The crown on the jewel was Pikachu in his detective cap with lively animated expressions during cut scenes, giving depth to his in-game character. The calm and enjoyable cut scenes were sprinkled with light humor, successfully lightening the gameplay and evoking smiles.

A Dose of Pokemon Power

The game allows for brief role-switches between features where you take control of detective Pikachu or his Pokemon friends supporting his investigations. For example, you can command a Growlithe to follow trails or a Luxray to see through walls. Although these features are short and limited, they successfully punctuate the traditional adventure game puzzles. The simple guiding tools of Detective Pikachu Returns ensure easy navigation, even for beginners.

A Glimpse into the Mystery Genre

The mysteries woven into the game’s narrative may seem predictable to seasoned gamers as they are written with younger audiences in mind. It can result in a slight impatience among older players as they wait for the narrative to catch up to their deductions. Furthermore, the new story bears strong resemblances with the Detective Pikachu movie, dulling some of the exciting surprises along the way.

Final Verdict

Detective Pikachu Returns might not be the best fit for mature audiences, but it successfully serves its purpose as an engaging mystery game for children or young teens. The narrative, settings, and mechanics are designed to gently introduce young gamers to the mystery genre. It is intended more for active participation from or with kids than to rekindle the inner child in adult gamers.

Graphics 9

Gameplay 10

Controls 8

Replay Value 9

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