"Time to close this case!"
Can I have a cup of coffee, please?
In 2018, we were introduced to a wondrous world on the 3DS: Pokémon and humans coexisting while the Great Detective Pikachu and his partner, Tim Goodman, solved mysteries together. Now we have the anticipated sequel, Detective Pikachu Returns, where we experience a fascinating world again and where every mystery that was left unsolved before is presented with a satisfactory solution.
The game takes place two years after the brilliant duo of Detective Pikachu and Tim Goodman saved Ryme City from the menace of R while looking for the whereabouts of Tim’s father, Harry, who is also Pikachu’s partner. In the opening scenes, Mayor Myers is honoring them for their work when suddenly chaos ensues and it’s up to our heroes to save the day again.
Very soon, Pikachu and Tim realize that the cases they’re solving are related and that there is a greater force at work. The mysteries are presented at a great pace, revealing clues and connections slowly but constantly, so players feel very engaged as they try to discover who is causing these disturbances in Ryme City and why.
In the process of solving the various mysteries, our team explores Ryme City and its surroundings. Once again, like in the previous game, this is one of the biggest strengths of the game. Exploring a fantastical realm, filled with both familiarity and wonder, is still fascinating. The magical realism of having a Klink helping you open an electric door, the cuteness of having a Polteageist hanging out at a coffee shop, or the solemnity of witnessing a Sirfetch’d take a Pawniard as a partner in the search of his destiny and perhaps becoming a Kingambit.
Every new Pokémon you find becomes a door to a new interaction, every new location opens a myriad of options, and every conversation fills you with desire to see what else the world of Detective Pikachu offers. I must confess that I prefer the locales of the first game, but we still have great places to visit, like ancient ruins full of Pokémon lore or a cozy traditional Japanese village reminiscent of those outside of Kyoto.
The gameplay is similar to the first game: Tim and Pikachu must gather evidence and testimony, from both humans and Pokémon, in order to solve the various questions presented along our journey. There are still some very simple Quick Time Events, where we must press certain buttons to get through some action sequences, but they are quite short and sparse.
One new element, though, is the use of certain Pokémon who will help Pikachu with his abilities. For example, we can team up with a Growlithe to track essences using her powerful sense of smell, or we can join forces with a Galarian Darmanitan to break obstacles. I love these new interactions because they not only reinforce the great sense of symbiosis that happens in the Pokémon world, but also open the door to a different type of gameplay that could be explored further in sequels – such using Kadabra’s psychic powers or Zoroark’s trickery.
Another similarity with the first game is the lack of penalties for making mistakes, which is why this game is a great introduction to the detective genre. The player will get cues to indicate if there is still missing evidence to be gathered and the interface will put pieces together to make deductions simpler. This may sound like a turn off for experienced players like myself, but although the gameplay is simple, the mystery is still very well written. There are multiple plot twists and they are foreshadowed nicely; some are obvious and expected, while others really surprised me.
Unlike the first game, the story wraps up nicely, even including the full origin story of Detective Pikachu and Harry, but there is plenty of room for a sequel that could explore the multiple cases that Tim and Pikachu solved in the two year span between both games.
The voice acting is still great, too, with our tough-sounding and coffee-fan Pikachu being as charming as ever, and there are tons of Easter eggs for fans of the previous adventure, the movie, and the series in general. The music is fine, but not as memorable as in the mainline games, so anyone looking for something like the Team Star Boss’ theme will have to look elsewhere.
Full of personality and charm, the world of Pokémon comes to life once more along the detective duo of Tim and Pikachu in Detective Pikachu Returns. The search for truth takes us on a wonderful journey through Ryme City, a place brimming with charm thanks to the great writing that delivers a clever mystery and delightful character interactions among Pokémon.
Christian’s a fan of long lists, Pokémon, SMT, Advance Wars, Xenoblade Chronicles, Splatoon, S/JRPGs, VNs...
When not solving mysteries in Ace Attorney or doing supports in Fire Emblem, he can be found doing math or learning languages.