Being small, yellow and incredibly cute is undoubtedly frustrating when you’re a detective. After all, how else would you describe a Pikachu wearing a detective hat? When you’re giving extensive analyses of a list of suspects, naming evidence and having to solve the theft of a valuable item, and all people hear is “Pika, Pika” coming out of your mouth, most people AND Pokemon would undoubtedly walk away irritated. Luckily for us, Pikachu has the help of Tim Goodman to help solve cases in Detective Pikachu Returns. With Tim’s missing father as the main motivator, this duo must solve multiple mysteries in Ryme City that may be connected. The big question is whether Detective Pikachu Returns manages to bring the case and the game to a successful conclusion or lose the plot. I teamed up with Pikachu to find that out for you.
People who hear the title Detective Pikachu Returns might first think it’s a sequel to the movie from a few years ago. And while there are certainly certain similarities in terms of characters and plot, in terms of voice-acting, don’t expect Ryan Reynolds for the voice of the title hero Detective Pikachu. Which is not to say, by the way, that the voice cast present does an excellent job. The story of Detective Pikachu is a direct sequel to the original that appeared on the 3DS in 2018. Tim Goodman and Pikachu are still looking for Harry Goodman, who is Tim’s father as well as Pikachu’s detective partner. After the events of the original, both Tim and Pikachu are honored by the mayor and given special awards for saving the city. But during the ceremony, they are attacked by a wild Corviknight who causes chaos in the city AND steals Pikachu’s hat. Which, of course, guarantees a lot of drama.
In this initial phase of the game you get a brief glimpse of how you will have to proceed over the next few hours. You’ll have to interrogate people for information, scour areas for clues, and occasionally pick up an extra task that often involves little more than answering a question or finding a specific Pokémon in your area. Fortunately, Detective Pikachu does have a little more to it than these basic skills. During the main story, you’ll have to solve a number of elaborate cases that may be related to each other and unravel an overarching mystery. What makes the individual cases fun to play through are the colorful and interestingly portrayed characters you will interact with and the Pokémon involved in the cases.
For example, in a theft we had to deal with a Growlithe who was so upset that a jewel had been stolen that he was eager to prove himself with his sleuth. Detective Pikachu then sat on his back and then we were able to control the Growlithe and follow a scent to the next hint for our investigation. That’s just one of many examples where the Pokemon you encounter become a part of your investigation. In addition to situations like this, you will also encounter several residents of Ryme City who have small and often short missions for you. Think of finding Pokémon based on a global description, finding two missing Pokemon that need a sweater in a cold environment to get warm or other simple tasks.
Most of the playing time of Detective Pikachu Returns you will have to collect hints, interrogate people and Pokemon and then make connections between all your obtained evidence to reach a logical conclusion. The various cases you have to solve are fairly simple to solve and in many cases you can see the solution coming even before you have collected all the evidence. Unfortunately, the game does not allow you to draw your conclusions before you have completed all the required steps and collected all the hints. In that respect, Detective Pikachu Returns has become a fairly linear game where you have to mostly follow the mapped out path. Not that it’s a bad thing to visit the colorful locations and experience the fun interaction between Tim and Pikachu. Because Pikachu’s dialogues are often filled with a bossy tone that manage to give the adventure an extra layer of humor. In addition, the game looks beautiful and colorful and runs smoothly without any noticeable frame drops.
What I personally find unfortunate is that the game has no Dutch translation and is thus clearly a little less suitable for younger players. Which is quite strange since the game is anything but challenging for older gamers in terms of level and challenge. As a result, I think Nintendo is missing out on a pretty large target group of players. Although there is quite a bit of dialogue in the game, the core gameplay is so simplistic in nature that gamers aged six to 10 can quite easily pick up the game as well.
In terms of content, there is quite a bit to do in the game. Each case you have to solve can take hours due to the various dialogues, nicely designed cutscenes and figuring out how to put the hints together for a solution can take you hours per case. So for the lower price of fifty euros, you get quite a bit of value for your money. Once you solve a case, of course, you also know that you can get through the game much faster next time, but the first time you will spend about two hours per case.
Detective Pikachu Returns has become an entertaining but simplistic game. The riddles and cases you have to solve are very easy to complete and you are often taken immensely by the hand on your way to the solution. Because of this, it is a shame that the game does not have a Dutch translation as it would probably have appealed to a larger audience. Tim and Pikachu’s adventure is colorful and plays nicely but once you get through the story, you will find little replay value in the game. All in all, Detective Pikachu Returns is a nice follow-up with some predictable gameplay and a linear story that doesn’t really surprise anywhere. Still, it is the charm of the characters and the fun world of Pokémon that lift the game above mediocrity.