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Detective Pikachu Returns Review

Detective Pikachu Returns

Release: October 6, 2023
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Genre: Action, Adventure, Switch Reviews


Worth a Play About Rating
7.0 - Gameplay
6.0 - Video
8.0 - Audio

When Detective Pikachu launched on the Nintendo 3DS in 2016 I was really excited. With amazing touch screen controls and a slew of puzzles and cases to work through, it really was an excellent deduction game starring everyone’s favourite Pokemon.

Tim, in his own right, was a fantastic character as well, and as the two looked for Tim’s father, other great adventures unfolded. As much fun as I had with Detective Pikachu, I can admit that I was a bit hesitant on diving into Detective Pikachu Returns. How would the game work on a home console as opposed to a handheld with a stylus? How good would the cases be? When would I find time to play this with Mario Wonder just around the corner? Let’s take a look!


Still Missing in Action

If you plan to play the original still, I would skip past this section to the next subheading. Detective Pikachu Returns continues the events of Detective Pikachu. Some time has past since Tim and Pikachu solved their previous case (which gets brought up a lot here) but the whereabouts of Tim’s father Harry, and Pikachu’s former partner, is still a mystery.

Detective Pikachu Returns uses a similar premise as the first title. Ultimately, you are still on the hunt for Harry, wondering where he might have gone. All the while, you continue to help the citizens of Ryme City with their various problems, which include finding missing Pokemon or solving serious crimes. I played Detective Pikachu all the way through when it first launched 7 years ago, and the thought of tracking down Tim’s father yet again was a bit disappointing, at least at first.

A Slow Start to Detective Work

One thing I really didn’t like about playing Detective Pikachu Returns was that the opening case – so ultimately the first few hours – are incredibly slow. As you learn the basic mechanism of the game – some of which will be what you already knew from Detective Pikachu, although there is no option to skip some tutorials – you will slowly get thrust into your first case.

With most Detective Pikachu cases, there will be a decent amount of backtracking, but it seemed much more constant in this first case. As the aim of the case was to teach you as many of the game mechanics as possible, I understood the plethora of dead-end investigations that, even before attempting, you knew were going nowhere.


My concern here is that the first case, which will take a few hours if you read all the text, might turn some folks off the game entirely. It is worth noting that the pace of the game seems to dramatically improve as you continue to play, with the various investigations you perform having more meaning. They are more about actual detective work than trying to teach various game mechanics.

A Fantastic Team

As with the first game, the duo of Tim and Pikachu are key for getting the most information from a crime scene and witnesses as possible. Tim interviews humans, and Pikachu interviews Pokemon. I enjoy that the game itself is vary aware, which means even when a Pokemon provides fantastic evidence, both Tim and Pikachu will note that they cannot use the testimony of a Pokemon as evidence when talking with other people.

I also love using different Pokemon for their powers. I don’t want to spoil what many of the Pokemon can do, but using Growlithe’s ability to track people and Pokemon by their scent is amazing, and adds another layer of depth to the game. With dozens of Pokemon to interact with, and so many different powers to take advantage of, there can be many options to choose from when solving cases, way more than before.

Just a Bit Lackluster

Ultimately, this isn’t a game meant for adults. The puzzle solving here is very rudimentary, made so that even kids can figure it out without much help. This game hit home a lot more for my son Lochlan than it did for me. Thing is, I don’t normally ding a game for not being as good for adults as kids, especially when the primary demographic is kids.


What I am disappointed about was the games overall graphical look. I find the entire game a bit drab. Had they given this title a similar look as New Pokemon Snap, I would have been thrilled. As it stands, the game lacks the vibrancy you might hope from something like this.


Detective Pikachu Returns is not the greatest game in the Nintendo Switch library, and I’m curious to see how it will do when it hit the eShop and store shelves this week. I think hardcore Pokemon fans will enjoy the story at work here, and younger fans will really love exploring the world and solving puzzles.

There ultimately wasn’t enough stuff here to keep me entertained during my play through, and while it was satisfying to finish, I still came up just a bit disappointed.



Article By

blank Adam Roffel has only been writing about video games for a short time, but has honed his skills completing a Master's Degree. He loves Nintendo, and almost anything they have released...even Tomodachi Life.

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Twitter: @AdamRoffel