Back in 2016, Detective Pikachu was released for the 3DS and was a brand new solo adventure title for the iconic face of the world-famous series. The entire premise of a talking Pikachu made fans enjoy the entry and almost 7 years later we have a sequel to the title that is fun, and a joy to play if you want something on the easy side. In my Detective Pikachu Returns review, I’ll see if this is a case worth taking on.
The game takes place a couple of years after the events of the original game. If you haven’t played the original you don’t need to know anything about it to play this entry. Pikachu gives you a good recap at the start of the game.
The game centers around Tim Goodman and Pikachu. Tim is the only person who can hear Pikachu talk like a regular human while others hear the melodic pika pika sound of the Pokemon. While Pikachu’s antics are more similar to that of a grown-up who is fueled by coffee and occasionally sounds like an adult, the relationship between the two is still as funny as it was in the original game.
Pikachu and Tim Goodman team up once more to solve a new mystery that is taking Ryme City by storm. While the overall elements are a lot simpler and watered down when compared to the original, there is still a lot of fun to be had along the way when you meet brand new Pokemon from recent games such as Corviknight, and even Pokemon from the 2016 entry such as Trubbish.
You meet many familiar faces from the previous entry and make some new friends along this entry too in Pokemon and humans.
Overall, the plot is very simple and I don’t want to give away too many spoilers as the game itself is relatively short as it is. It took me a little over 10 hours to hit the end credits. If you are a fan of a good comfort mystery game that isn’t as hard as Layton or Phoenix Wright, you will find this a good game to play while relaxing.
The gameplay loop is simple. You move from one scene to the next, solve the mystery of that area, and move on to the next place. Along the way you may or may not be aided by other Pokemon, and there are a few new mechanics here that make the experience more enjoyable. There are seldom moments where you work with Pokemon like Growlithe to sniff a scent to lead you to a clue or take help from an Applin to help find Pikachu’s hat.
The design is similar to the original where once you gather enough evidence by exploring the environment, you can start the deduction process to get one step to solving the mystery. From there it’s a procedural series of steps to getting the evidence and leading to the case getting wrapped up.
There are further assistive options that can extend the ease of solving the case in the game. Throughout the adventure, Pikachu and Tim meet a lot of challenges and obstacles that you can only solve by working with other Pokemon or humans. Pikachu will outright put the answer in front of you if you ever get lost.
There is nothing really unique here about the gameplay that you won’t naturally learn while playing the game. So there is equally very little to say outside of how the game is better experienced by playing it for yourself. Overall though, it’s kind of refreshing to play something on the simpler side for once, and not bang your head against the wall in a puzzle game.
The visuals and sound here are simple and can be a bone of contention for many. While the game looks strikingly similar to the 3DS version, I would say that a game of this genre doesn’t need lavish bells and whistles to sell itself, particularly when the game is not meant to be a massive visual showcase.
The sound follows the familiar Pokemon tune throughout the play, so if you know Pokemon background music in the mainline games, you already have an idea of what you’re in for.
The visuals look like a cross between a game and an animated show, and while I personally enjoyed the graphics as they helped with the aesthetic of the series, people who saw me play the game said it looked too cartoony.
As such, the visuals could be a hit or miss, depending on which camp you are comfortable with.
Detective Pikachu Returns is a comfort game. Offering a little over 10 hours of gameplay with very little replay value, I would really only recommend this to fans of the original title, or if you can easily share the game with friends and family to trade for other games.
The plot, cast of Pokemon, and characters paired with a somewhat thin plot make the game a bit of an “entry” for people who enjoy mystery games. However, if you enjoy fun and quirky adventure games and the unique atmosphere of the world of Pokemon, this is something you can enjoy and pick up to pick off each day while you’re on a commute or a lunch break at school or work to slowly chip away at the game.
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