Detective Pikachu Returns: A Charming Sequel with a Few Missteps | A Tamatem Review
The original Detective Pikachu game, released over five years ago for the Nintendo 3DS, was a unique departure from the traditional Pokémon formula. Trading in trainers, Poké Balls, and battles for mysteries more akin to the Phoenix Wright/Professor Layton games, it offered a fresh and engaging experience. The game’s popularity led to a movie adaptation in 2019, which became a box-office success. However, the movie’s story diverged significantly from the game’s, creating a challenge for the sequel to tell a cohesive narrative.
Detective Pikachu Returns picks up with Tim Goodman and his trusty partner, Detective Pikachu, as they receive awards for their previous investigative work. Soon enough, they find themselves embroiled in a series of interconnected mysteries, all while continuing their search for Tim’s missing father, Harry. The game excels in its portrayal of the relationship between Tim and Pikachu, with Tim serving as the straight man to Pikachu’s gruff and humorous persona. It’s heartwarming to see their bond deepen as they face increasingly personal cases.
The gameplay remains largely unchanged from the original, with players exploring the streets of Ryme City, temple ruins, and other varied locales, interacting with both humans and Pokémon. Gathering information, translating Pokémon speech, and compiling evidence for your notebook are all key aspects of the gameplay. Once you’ve collected enough clues, it’s time to deduce the facts and identify the culprit in a multiple-choice quiz.
One of the most welcome additions in Detective Pikachu Returns is Pikachu’s ability to team up with other Pokémon. Sniffing out clues with Growlithe, punching through obstacles with Darmanitan, and seeing through walls with Luxray provide refreshing breaks from the text-heavy gameplay. While these sequences aren’t groundbreaking, they finally allow players to utilise Pokémon powers in a series where Detective Pikachu himself is famously unable to do so.
Side missions offer a welcome respite from the main storyline. These tasks involve helping lost Pokémon, tracking down elusive creatures, or simply providing assistance to various NPCs. While these missions don’t have a significant impact on the overall narrative, they add to the game’s world-building and provide a sense of accomplishment.
The game’s simple, cartoony visuals are a noticeable improvement over the 3DS predecessor and suit the game’s tone perfectly. However, environmental navigation remains stuck in the past. Frequent loading screens disrupt the flow of the game, especially when traversing small areas or moving between floors in buildings.
While I enjoyed the overall story arc and individual case narratives, the game’s puzzles are relatively straightforward and won’t challenge experienced puzzle solvers. However, the biggest issue with Detective Pikachu Returns is its conflict with the 2019 movie. Key plot elements that align between the two mediums feel like spoilers, making it difficult for those who have only seen the movie to fully appreciate the game’s story.
Despite its shortcomings, Detective Pikachu Returns is an entertaining sequel that builds upon the foundation laid by its predecessor. The charming characters, engaging mysteries, and improved gameplay make it a worthwhile experience for fans of the series, particularly those who have played the original 3DS game.
Tamatem Games is committed to helping the Arabic mobile gaming market reach its full potential. By localising popular mobile games, publishing original Arabic mobile games, supporting eSports, and investing in Arabic mobile game development, Tamatem Games is playing a key role in shaping the future of Arabic mobile gaming. Our most popular games include Fashion Queen, VIP Baloot and Battle of Kings. In addition, card players from across the MENA region have been enjoying our in-depth card game, VIP Jalsat.