The Hats are On
Detective Pikachu Returns is the second in the series of Detective Pikachu games with the first one appearing on the Nintendo 3DS back in 2016. Since then we’ve had a film and a promise of a sequel which has now come to fruition.
Detective Pikachu of course features the beloved Pokémon Pikachu who is able to communicate with his owner and take on a series of investigations much like a detective. I never played the original 3DS game so I came into Detective Pikachu Returns with not much idea of what to expect.
The general concept is that you play as Detective Pikachu who has lost his memories after being separated from his partner in crime Harry Goodman whilst on a case. Wandering the City he bumps into Tim Goodman who is conveniently Harry Goodman’s son and also conveniently can understand what Pikachu is saying. I really enjoy the concept of Detective Pikachu, the hat, the husky voice and the ability to make light of everything in a dire situation. Whilst I appreciate they used the original voice actor in Detective Pikachu Returns as it’s 3DS counterpart, there was something about Ryan Reynolds that fitted him perfectly for the role. It’s a minor nitpick as his original voice actor is also great for the role and delivers Pikachu’s lines perfectly in every situation.
In Ryme City where the game largely takes place it is up to Tim and Pikachu to solve the disappearance of Harry. While doing so the game also has other mysteries to be solved. The mix of small mysteries which happen are really well versed and written and mainly consist of point and click mechanics with some button mashing also. The game is very easy with little room for error, in essence it’s very difficult to fail anything as you would have to try hard to do so, also having basic Pokémon knowledge helps in meeting certain criteria of these Pokepuzzles. Personally I don’t mind the ease of it, I enjoy games with a good story without having to think too much after all this is a game where the main demographic is children so due to it’s younger audience and being a Pokémon game this is a doorway for those not into Violence to tackle mysterious events in a cosy and comfy setting.
Overall I find the amount of puzzles quite lackluster and genuinely found nothing too noteworthy in terms of gameplay. Most of the time you will be going from one location to the next to talk to the next person or Pokémon, Detective Pikachu Returns feels more like a visual novel with a few Quick Time Events thrown in here and there. The game is not fully voice acted either but it is nice to see voice overs in a Pokémon game
As someone who is a fan of Pokémon but has been out of the loop for quite a while, Detective Pikachu Returns makes it easy to settle in, sure there are loads of new Pokémon that I’ve never seen such as Applin (the clue is in the name for what kind of Pokémon that is) There is a lot of original fan favorite Pokémon to be seen also. As Tim and Pikachu make their rounds solving mysteries, Pikachu will speak to Pokémon who will talk back with their Pokémon cry and then translate it back so that Tim and us players will understand.
Graphically Detective Pikachu Returns looks as good as any of the other Pokémon games on the Switch although slightly better due to the fact of not needing to render a full open world which the most recent releases have done. Environments inside and outside are detailed enough although marginally look only slightly better than the original 3DS game. The character models are good although some just seem to lack any form of personality while others do, it’s a strange mix but it does not deter from the game in anyway. Pikachu being the star of the show is highly detailed in many of the cutscenes especially when the camera pans into his cute Pika face in a troubling situation.
The music and sound are really well done, some of the ambient music is very relaxed and really suits the theme of Detective Pikachu Returns.
I can say Detective Pikachu Returns is an enjoyable game overall but I have to question it value wise there is not much in terms of re-playability due to the linearity and how short the game is. It is a decent game overall but once you’ve done it there is nothing new to come back to. While Detective Pikachu Returns isn’t the most expensive game out on the Switch it’s still steep for what it is and I can’t help but feel you’re just paying for the fact it is a Pokémon branded game.
A Nintendo Switch code was provided by Nintendo