Detective Pikachu Game Review
Engaging instances to resolve
Will be too easy for veteran players
About The Game
If you are expecting this to be your average “gotta grab ’em all” escapade then you are likely to be disappointed; in actuality, this new experience has more in common with 3DS stablemates Professor Layton and Ace Attorney than it does with Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. As opposed to recycling gameplay from previous installments, it plans to do something fresh and different with the energetic and attractive world of Pokémon.
In actuality, it’s striking just how detached this game feels in the established Pokémon world, despite showcasing many of those Pokémon we have come to know and love through our handheld consoles over the last few decades. The titular yellowish sleuth is perhaps the strangest; this is not Ash’s Pikachu, so don’t go expecting any high-pitched “Pika! Pika!” chanting. Instead, we have got a gruff-sounding, coffee-consuming wise man who is magically effective at communication eloquently with Tim, the individual protagonist. Forced together entirely by destiny, this intrepid duo solves cases by compiling evidence, interviewing witnesses and combing locations for telltale signs.
Cases begin relatively small, but they become more complicated with higher stakes — and along the way, Tim can learn what caused his beloved father to mysteriously vanish only two weeks prior. Why Tim and Pikachu have the ability to understand one another is a plot point we would rather allow you to discover for yourself. Suffice to say, the dynamic between these two unlikely companions is among the most attractive elements of the entire game — a great omen for the upcoming movie of the same title, where Ryan Reynolds will be lending his vocal talents to the small yellow ball of lightning.
Like Ace Attorney — possibly the nearest point of comparison, at least 3DS — Detective Pikachu presents you with a string of self-contained conundrums which you need to resolve by piecing together various pieces of evidence. You may talk with people (and, due to Pikachu’s existence, extract valuable intel out of Pokémon) to gleam different pieces of information relating to each situation. The more information you learn, the more questions you may pose to other people, meaning that you frequently have to converse with the identical individual more than once to learn what they know.
Collecting evidence is as simple as walking to different objects and interacting with them, and you may consult with your constantly updating case files at any stage to refresh your memory. At different points, Pikachu himself will interject with theories or hints that point you in the ideal direction. Handily, when a scene has given up all its potential clues, the game prompts you to proceed into another site.
Regardless of the absence of Pokémon-catching, Detective Pikachu does a superb job of incorporating the lore of the world with your valiant crime-solving exploits. You will encounter a lot of famous Pokémon in your journeys, and their established traits and customs are neatly harnessed to create beautifully logical puzzles.
By way of instance, early on you will realize that Burmy’s proclivity for using nearby objects to make a temporary cloak will cause you to the whereabouts of a lost item. But this doesn’t indicate an intimate understanding of the Pokédex is needed to extract maximum pleasure since the game does a superb job of describing everything so that you can think of your own conclusions and concepts.
There is a gentle pace to the whole thing, and it is not possible to take the incorrect route and hit a dead end. Even selecting the incorrect answer when compiling or presenting evidence does not spell an unfortunate ending to your sleuthing, since you can just try again with no penalty.
This approach extends up to the action-orientated ‘quick time events’, which sometimes occur during your search. This task you with pressing a button at the perfect time or tapping a button to make something happen. Fail in these challenges and your only punishment is an alternate cutscene before the story continues as normal.
Add to this the addition of an optional ‘simple’ mode where signposting is much more obvious, and you’ve got a game which could hardly be described as hard or frustrating. Granted, there are times when putting together a plausible argument for every case seems more obtuse than it perhaps should be, but on the whole you will breeze through Detective Pikachu’s nine chapters in just over ten hours. What is important to notice here is that you may not necessarily see everything through your first run, so repeated playthroughs might be required if you are a diehard completionist.
Despite running on Nintendo’s older mobile system (earnings would arguably have been better on the Switch), Detective Pikachu remains a handsome enough effort, though there are no auto-stereoscopic 3D effects to off everything.
The audio is a bit repetitive but you’ll end up humming it and the voice-acting is of a pleasingly higher standard. It may be somewhat pixelated around the edges but Detective Pikachu remains an attractive proposition, and it is not too tough to determine how Creatures Inc. could up-scale this for a Switch remaster in a year or so’s time.
Detective Pikachu ranks among the fascinating Pokémon spin-offs we have seen in years and does an excellent job of offering a new perspective on a world we have become almost uncomfortably familiar with in recent years.
The lack of any real challenge is a problem — and one that veteran players might find difficult to stomach — but while it lasts, Detective Pikachu is quality entertainment that is well written, brilliantly presented and sets the scene well for the forthcoming Hollywood movie.
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