Game Review: Detective Pikachu Returns is a thrilling sequel that hits all the right notes

Detective Pikachu Returns is the long-awaited sequel to the beloved Detective Pikachu game from 2016, which was released on the handheld Nintendo 3DS system. For the sequel, it has been beefed up for the Nintendo Switch system and certainly doesn’t disappoint. Developed by the team at Creatures Inc. and published by Nintendo, this game brings back the electrifying duo of Pikachu and Tim Goodman, in a new mystery adventure story that will engage you from the very opening scene, only to leave you completely in shock at the end. 

Pikachu, where are you?  

The game’s storyline is immediately engaging. It picks up where the first game left off, with Tim and the street-wise cracking, gruffly voiced Detective Pikachu once again teaming up to solve mysterious cases in Ryme City. The narrative is well-paced, filled with twists and turns, and it will keep you guessing until the very end. The return of familiar characters and Pokémon combined with the introduction of new ones, add depth to the story, making it a fun dive into the complicated world of Ryme City and the people and Pokémon that inhabit it. The first mission feels like a tutorial (a much-needed one for me!), before really settling into the rest of the game. The smaller missions, however, all still manage to contribute to the main story in new and meaningful ways. 

Detective Pikachu Returns retains many of the core gameplay elements that made its predecessor so enjoyable. You’ll find yourself exploring various locations, gathering clues, and interrogating witnesses to solve cases. The addition of new mechanics and puzzles also keeps the gameplay fresh and engaging. But at the end of the day, the game ultimately strikes a good balance between challenging puzzles and accessibility, making it suitable for both newcomers and seasoned players.

There is an option to enable story hints, in which Pikachu can guide you on what to do next if you really get stuck. The main course of the game is to uncover as many clues as you can and choose the solution. If you do come to the wrong conclusion, Pikachu definitely doesn’t hold back in telling you all about it, which is almost worth doing for that reaction alone. None of these cases are overly complicated though, while the most charming aspect of the gameplay loop is travelling around to each location, exploring each room and area to discover and chat to new Pokémon to uncover their secrets. 

Exploding With Colour

The visuals in Detective Pikachu Returns are also a step up from its predecessor. The Pokémon and human characters are beautifully designed, with expressive animations that bring them to life. Ryme City is a vibrant and detailed backdrop for your investigations. It’s worth noting that on the Nintendo Switch OLED, the colours really pop and help make this large colour palette come to life brilliantly. The music and voice acting are also top-notch, with Detective Pikachu’s witty one-liners and expressive voice adding a layer of charm to the overall flow and experience. Where the game does feel a bit disconnected, however, is the switch up from the gorgeously rendered cut scenes with voices to the dialled-back gameplay. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker, but it just takes you out of the world for a few seconds each time it transitions. 

One of the highlights of Detective Pikachu Returns is the seamless integration of Pokémon into the game world. The game showcases a diverse range of Pokémon, each with its own unique characteristics and quirks. Interacting with these creatures adds depth to the gameplay and immerses you further into the Pokémon universe. Having Pikachu as the interpreter for other Pokémon who are sporting their traditional catchphrases is still incredibly charming, and having Tim as the mouthpiece for the other trainers and population of Rime City is still spectacular. 

While the main storyline offers a satisfying experience, Detective Pikachu Returns falls slightly short in terms of its replayability. Once you’ve completed the cases and solved the mysteries, there isn’t really much incentive to revisit, unless you’re a true completionist, who is aiming to uncover every hidden detail, which never really adds much to the core narrative, aside from the main and secondary missions. 

Final Thoughts

Even still, Detective Pikachu Returns successfully builds upon the foundation of the original game, delivering an engaging storyline, charming characters, and improved visuals. The world of Pokémon and Rime City comes alive with intriguing mysteries, focused gameplay and some truly spectacular cinematic moments. It’s a must-play for fans of the first game, the film and Pokémon enthusiasts and Nintendo Switch owners alike. However, the lack of significant replay value may leave some players wanting more. Nevertheless, the return of Detective Pikachu is a welcome addition to the ever-expanding Pokémon universe.


Highlights: Build upon the first game while still allowing new players to know what’s happening; Gorgeous colours on the OLED Switch.
Lowlights: Little to no replayability
Developer: Creatures Inc.
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Available: Now

Review conducted on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.