Detective Pikachu Review: Elementary, Pikachu!

A mysterious case with Pikachu

None of our past Pokémon adventures are like Detective Pikachu. In this game, the most popular Pokémon wears an elegant hat, speaks with a gruff voice, sees the world through the eyes of a seasoned private detective, and doesn’t forget to eat sweets to replenish its sugar level. But somehow, this crazy combination has made Pikachu even more charming and charismatic. Without this eternal grumbler in the game, Detective Pikachu would be just an ordinary mediocre game.

I was afraid that it would be just a mishmash of mini-games glued together with something vaguely resembling a plot. But it turned out to be the complete opposite. Creatures Inc did a great job with this spin-off, and I immensely enjoyed almost every aspect of the game, especially the humor, story, and graphics.

Detective Pikachu begins with you, Tim Goodman, arriving in Ryme City to find your missing father. Here, you accidentally encounter a strange Pikachu that can talk to you, is crazy about sweets and coffee, wears a “Sherlock Holmes-esque” hat, fancies itself as a detective, and coincidentally happens to be your father’s Pokémon. Together, you embark on a detective adventure, investigating strange incidents throughout Ryme City, from amusement parks to heavily guarded warehouses and even on a luxurious cruise liner, in order to find traces of your father, who was investigating a case related to a mysterious substance called “R” before his disappearance. A familiar letter, isn’t it?

Enjoying coffee with a view

Detective Pikachu is a story-driven game, very similar to the works of Telltale Games. In moments when you don’t need to frantically press the A button or carefully time your presses to catch a falling Pikachu, you will be walking through amazingly beautiful locations and interacting with people/pokemon, gathering information, sniffing out clues, interrogating witnesses, and solving detective puzzles – both big and small. Pokemon all over Ryme City are falling into fits of rage, causing property damage and becoming dangerous to humans, so the number of incidents requiring your immediate investigation is constantly growing.

The Ryme City police either half-heartedly investigates these cases or turns a blind eye to them altogether, and the search for your father initially seems like a lost cause. It’s something like “don’t get involved and wait.” But fortunately, you have a secret weapon – your Detective Pikachu. Only you can understand him, and Pikachu himself understands other pokemon, which constantly provides you with important testimonies, clues, and other exclusive information.

You need to get used to the rough male voice and humor from the cutest little yellow face.

However, the excitement of Detective Pikachu can actually be disappointing because the puzzles in the game leave something to be desired. In each chapter of the game, there is a mini-puzzle: for example, in the first chapter, Tim and Pikachu find a lost necklace, in another chapter they rescue a Pokémon in a difficult situation, and in the third chapter, they investigate the nasty deeds happening in a chemical research laboratory. You gather clues by talking to witnesses and examining the environment. Once all the information in the location is collected, you need to play a mini-game where you match the puzzle and its solution, and then support it with the evidence you have found.

Navigating by boat in a tropical paradise

Tim always has a notebook with very detailed information about the cases being investigated (Case Lists) – it contains evidence, testimonies, and all other data collected by you. After gathering all the necessary information, you move to another menu (Case Notes), where Pikachu analyzes it and asks you guiding questions. You answer these questions by moving the correct fragments with evidence and testimonies into empty cells, deducing the correct answer and successfully closing the case, moving on to the next chapter.

Solving these puzzles requires almost no mental effort – even if you have hardly interacted with people and Pokémon, choosing the right answer is very easy thanks to the small summaries of all your notes. In addition, Pikachu himself helps you in this process, guiding you to the right answer. If you make a false guess, he asks you to start over. Most of the game time, this mechanic works flawlessly, but even if you are at least somewhat familiar with the Pokémon universe, you will solve the case long before Tim and Pikachu, but still have to click back and forth in search of the necessary evidence to convince Pikachu to move the case forward. However, this activity does not seem tiresome – thanks to the fact that the developers have added a lot of interesting things to the game.

Investigating a questionable alibi

Detective Pikachu can be completed in three to four days without much effort, and if you find it insufficient, you can replay the game for a few new mini-scenes that are only unlocked upon replay. But is it worth it? That’s for you to decide. As an alternative, you can buy the Detective Pikachu amiibo figure – it also unlocks and allows you to watch all the missed scenes. The ending, although not very interesting, still hints at a continuation, which personally I will be waiting for.

The real magic of Detective Pikachu lies in Pikachu itself. You have to get used to the rough male voice and humor coming from the adorable yellow face. But that’s what makes it memorable and a cool character. Additionally, at any point in the game, you can touch Pikachu’s portrait on the 3DS touchscreen to see what it’s thinking. Full of charm and comedy, it has become an excellent Watson for the teenage Holmes. It is thanks to him – the tiny and grumpy yet insightful and cute Pikachu – that you want to return to this Pokémon-inhabited world.

Detective Pikachu
Creatures Inc.
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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