The iconic sleuthing, coffee-drinking, grizzled, electric mouse is back on the case in this sequel for Nintendo's franchise.
"Detective Pikachu was one of the last Nintendo 3DS titles, but thankfully, it wasn't left behind by the Pokemon franchise and the smoky-voiced detective appeared once more, in a good live action movie that adapted the first story between protagonist Tim Goodman and his chubby, hunter-capped Pokemon research partner. So, while Detective Pikachu Returns does a good job of summarizing its predecessor in an opening sequence, you don't need to know any more than what that recap provides before jumping into this unique Pokemon investigation game."
"The plot begins two years after the events with Substance R that turned Rhyme City's Pokemon wild, and with the Mayor awarding us a medal for our work in preserving this utopia of human-Pokemon 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 once more. At the same time, the search for Tim's father, who is also Pikachu's former detective partner, is still ongoing, so the two plots are gradually intertwined as well. 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 Rhyme City, as well as from the testimonies of humans and Pokemon. 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 Rhyme City. Each case has several strands to follow if you're 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 Pokemon 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 Pokemon 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 Pokemon from almost every past generation here, 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 Pokemon 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 with greying hair smile. That moment about coffee and high cholesterol is pure cinema. Pikachu also 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 5 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 of the past game. Character design hasn't changed since 2018 either, except to add higher resolution. With the Pokemon there's no major problem, but the modelling of the people could do with a bit more expressiveness."
"Detective Pikachu Returns is too much of a continuity sequel, for better or for 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 Pokemon trainers and investigators, Detective Pikachu Returns offers a good introduction to games of this type."