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Detective Pikachu Returns

Detective Pikachu Returns

Pikachu and Tim join forces again for a new adventure full of mysteries, twists, and lots and lots of coffee.

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Detective Pikachu was one of the last Nintendo 3DS titles, and it was one I missed out on at the time. Thankfully, the Pokémon franchise has taken care of its mascot in the role of the smoky-voiced detective, and given us a good live-action movie that adapted that first story between protagonist Tim Goodman and his chubby, hunter-capped Pokémon research partner quite well. So, while Detective Pikachu Returns does a good job of summarising the former in an opening sequence, you don't need to know any more than what that recap provides before jumping into this unique Pokémon investigation game.

The plot begins two years after the events with Substance R that turned Ryme City's Pokémon wild and with the mayor awarding us a medal for our work in preserving this utopia of human-Pokémon coexistence. However, a series of strange and seemingly unconnected events lead us back to a larger plot in which we have to put our skills of observation and deduction to good use. At the same time, the search for Tim's (Pikachu's former detective partner) father is still ongoing, so the two plots are gradually intertwined as well.

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But before saving the world, there are a few more minor mysteries to solve. Detective Pikachu Returns is a very linear investigation title, with Pikachu playing the role of detective, sidekick and team leader. The action is presented in a fairly linear fashion, almost like a succession of dialogues and reflections as if it were a visual novel, although it also requires us to be attentive to the details of the conversations and to not disregard any clue, no matter how small, without writing it down in our investigation notebook. Clues are taken from the environment and locations of Ryme City as well as from the testimonies of humans and Pokémon. Pikachu takes care of the pocket monsters, while Tim takes care of the humans.

This isn't a particularly challenging title for an adult, but youngsters at home will find it a good stimulus to focus their senses on solving the many problems and crimes in Ryme City. Each case has several strands to follow if you are to get the right solution, and can keep you entertained for a good while. At the same time, there are also smaller quests to help people or Pokémon with simple mini-puzzles, usually centred around a fixed scene where we move the magnifying glass to highlight clues and look for objects, or you'll end up with a straightforward Quick Time Event.

Familiarity with the dozens of Pokémon species that appear in the game is not a prerequisite, either, as a brief description often provides clues as to whether or not they should be considered part of the case at hand. We have Pokémon from almost every past generation, so if you do have some knowledge it can make it quicker to complete some lines of investigation and form the final deductions to close the case. But we can't discuss Pokémon without mentioning the charisma of our furry protagonist, who charms with a gravelly voice that could well appear in a film noir, and some comments that make even those of us with grey hair smile (that moment about coffee and high cholesterol is pure cinema).

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Pikachu also always keeps us focused on our current task. We can't investigate or explore outside the area the game wants us to see at the time, and there's not much room for error as the camera is fixed and at best follows us in a side-scroll, just as the first game did on Nintendo's handheld five years ago. If we could move around the stage in depth, it could add an extra challenge to the search for clues, something that would improve on the formula. And character design hasn't changed since 2018 either, except to add higher resolution. With the Pokémon there's no major problem, but the modelling of the people could do with a bit more expressiveness (which would also have given more depth to interrogations or statements). Detective Pikachu Returns is too much of a "continuity" sequel, for better or worse, and it seems too comfortable with offering more of the same and not taking advantage of Nintendo's current hardware.

Still, the investigations are good and the story isn't bad either, and being a title aimed at young Pokémon trainers and investigators, Detective Pikachu Returns offers a good introduction to games of this type.

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07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+
Although straightforward, the cases require the right amount of attention. An intriguing story to the end.
-
The graphics are rather poor. The storyline is too confined. Scenarios with free camera would have been better.
overall score
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Detective Pikachu Returns

REVIEW. Written by Alberto Garrido

Pikachu and Tim join forces again for a new adventure full of mysteries, twists, and lots and lots of coffee.



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