In the diverse world of Pokemon, a balance of simplicity and complexity has always captured hearts across generations.
While the core RPGs and the TCG have appealed to both newbie gamers and expert gamers, Pokemon’s side quests have had a more targeted approach.
This rings true for Detective Pikachu Returns, a charming narrative-focused game designed primarily with budding Pokemon enthusiasts in mind.
Diving deep into the game, players step into the shoes of Tim Goodman, the youthful offspring of the celebrated favorite detective Harry Goodman, who has been mysteriously missing.
Joining him on this quest is the sharp little Pikachu, donning a deerstalker cap, as they navigate the enigmatic Ryme City while also seeking answers about Harry’s whereabouts.
The game stays true to traditional adventure mechanisms — exploring environments, gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses and drawing conclusions.
Ensuring its child-friendly appeal, the mysteries unravel events like a jewel heist or false Pokemon arrests. Interestingly, for a franchise known for its thrilling Pokemon duels, any hint of Pokemon conflicts in Ryme City is addressed urgently, echoing the city’s ethos of harmonious coexistence between Pokemon and humans.
However, Ryme City’s portrayal feels constrained.
Limited to a few city blocks and some outer locations, the urban spread seems sparsely inhabited and lacks immersive depth.
Most interactions are crucial to the game’s progression, with a few adding side-quest flavors, like aiding Pokemon in mundane tasks.
The problem-solving element is also quite uncomplicated and boring.
Ensuring players are always on track, the game frequently offers prompts. Solutions are mapped out in an easy-to-follow multiple-choice format, like elementary school quizzes.
While errors are casually overlooked, the deductions are straightforward, often spoon-feeding the next steps.
Visually speaking, the game has a minimalist approach. The Pokemon designs, although simple, have an appealing charm, especially Pikachu. His varied expressions, coupled with an unusually husky voice, do manage to get chuckles and light-hearted moments.
Beyond the narrative-driven journey of Goodman, players occasionally step into Pikachu’s tiny shoes or collaborate with other Pokemon friends, like Growlithe or Luxray, to navigate challenges.
Though these segments provide a refreshing change, the overall gameplay holds the player’s hand throughout, ensuring the experience remains simple.
Narrative predictability was another hiccup, often leaving seasoned players waiting for the story to align with their deductions. Additionally, parallels between Detective Pikachu Returns and its film from four years ago slightly dull the element of surprise.
Overall, Detective Pikachu Returns is a delightful, gentle introduction to mystery games for younger gamers.
While it unfolds a captivating story, its design and gameplay nuances resonate more with children, making it less of a nostalgic trip for older fans. It’s a game best enjoyed in the company of young gamers, offering them a soft introduction to the world of mysteries.