Detective Pikachu Returns Review – A Simple And Charming Detective Adventure

Elementary, my dear watt-son.

Detective Pikachu Returns is an intensely strange game. It stars a deep-voiced Pikachu with a penchant for solving mysteries and a fondness for black coffee, and has a storyline which heads to some unexpected places. Returns is definitely a game designed with children in mind, but it’s well-made and can definitely be enjoyed by Pokémon fans of all ages.

Detective Pikachu Returns follows Tim Goodman and the aforementioned coffee-enthused Pikachu two years after the events of the previous game. Tim and Pikachu have become local celebrities after their exploits solving the ‘R’ case where Pokémon were going berserk and causing all kinds of commotion.

The story of Returns plays out over six episodes, each with their own core mystery to solve which also serves to propel the overall story along. Our characters put back on their sleuthing hats when a jewel heist occurs, with someone breaking into a mansion and stealing a precious jewel – the Aurora Drop. Pokémon seem to be acting strangely again as well, and it’s up to Tim and Pikachu to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

In each episode, you’ll explore the area, talk to people, look closely to find clues, and use all that you’ve learned to deduce the answers to little mysteries that add up to the truth of what’s really going on.

For reasons still unknown, Tim can understand what Pikachu is saying. This comes in useful since Pikachu can talk to Pokémon to get their view on events, in addition to Tim talking to people for the same reason. The whole thing plays out a little like a point and click adventure game in how you explore an area and chat with people to gradually uncover the story.

Tim and Pikachu can also engage the assistance of certain other Pokémon to help during their investigations. The sensitive nose of a Growlithe comes in handy to track the location of people and objects of interest, while Luxray’s ability to see through walls is incredibly useful while trying to evade capture by enemies in stealth moments. These abilities add some welcome variety to the proceedings.

While investigating in each episode you’ll also come across characters with odd jobs for you to do. These tasks don’t add to the mystery you’re trying to solve, but bring a little extra colour to proceedings. It’s generally stuff like ‘find my friends who are playing hide and seek’ or finding specific Pokémon in the area for a newspaper reporter. These tasks don’t seem to serve much purpose beyond padding the game and adding to the newspaper you can read at the beginning of each episode, so they felt a little like a waste of my time.

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I mentioned earlier that the game was made with children in mind, and this is most obvious when it comes to the logical problem solving elements of Returns. While investigating you will note specific pieces of information that pertain to the case in your notebook, and later use these to come to a conclusion. I found the process of solving mysteries interesting in that they created moments of drama during the story, but found the revelations were obvious from a mile away.

Returns hammers home anything it wants you to work out to make sure that even a child’s logical reasoning ability will come to the right conclusion. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, just be aware that if you’re older it likely won’t exercise your problem solving ability.

I enjoyed the soundtrack of Detective Pikachu Returns a lot. It’s got some great jazzy detective tunes in some acts and some unexpected dance pop style beats in others which I really enjoyed. The visuals though, I found pretty average.

The Pokémon themselves look fantastic – I loved the attention to detail in Pikachu’s animations in particular which leads to some great comedic moments. However, the humans have all the visual style of something you might see in a Cocomelon video. Pokémon games in the past have had some truly inspired and visually interesting character designs so it’s a shame the characters here look a bit naff by comparison.

Conclusion
Detective Pikachu Returns is a decently fun little detective story. Don’t expect any intense logical deductions or unpredictable twists – but it’s fun enough to follow along with even so. The relationship between Tim and Pikachu is a highlight as are the Pokémon who help you along the way. Uninspired human character designs marr an otherwise decent presentation full of cool Pokémon and fun music.
Positives
Fun, if simple investigations
Pikachu is a charming star
Great looking Pokémon
Straightforward deductions won't leave kids behind
Negatives
Logical puzzle solving a bit simple
Unappealing human character designs
Seemingly pointless side events
7