Game Review | Detective Pikachu Returns is a Dark but Familiar Game

Detective Pikachu Returns, the sequel to the much lauded 2016 game, released last month to much fanfare. With a darker, more mature approach Creatures Inc. latest title in the Pokémon franchise promises more depth than ever in terms of gameplay and the character of everyone’s favorite electric Pokémon.

Detective Pikachu Returns delves into darker themes within the Pokémon universe, presenting a unique blend of familiar Pokémon lore and an engaging narrative that delves into the complexities of the law enforcement system. While it may not offer the same level of complexity or challenge as some of its counterparts within the adventure and mystery genres, the game’s incorporation of Pokémon intricacies into its puzzles and storyline provides a captivating experience for fans of the franchise.

This exploration of darker themes is complemented by Detective Pikachu Returns’ visual presentation. While the game doesn’t boast the most cutting-edge graphics, the art direction effectively captures the charm of the Pokémon world. Ryme City, with its bustling streets and diverse Pokémon inhabitants, feels vibrant and alive. Despite its simplicity, the game manages to evoke a certain nostalgia for those familiar with the Pokémon franchise.

The soundtrack, too, contributes to the overall immersive experience. While not groundbreaking, the music effectively sets the tone, whether it’s building tension during investigative sequences or conveying emotional depth during pivotal story moments. The audio design complements the narrative, enhancing the player’s emotional investment in the game’s events.


While Detective Pikachu Returns might not excel in terms of complex gameplay or groundbreaking visual innovation, its ability to engage players through its unique setting, well-crafted narrative, and poignant themes makes it a worthwhile addition to the Pokémon gaming universe. By embracing the detective genre, the game successfully differentiates itself from traditional Pokémon titles, offering fans and newcomers alike a refreshing take on the beloved franchise.

With its focus on storytelling, exploration of societal issues, and a richly realized game world, Detective Pikachu Returns underscores the potential for the Pokémon universe to transcend its established boundaries. By presenting a mature narrative within a familiar setting, the game opens the door for future Pokémon titles to explore even more complex and nuanced themes, appealing to a broader audience while retaining the charm that has made the franchise a global phenomenon.

Detective Pikachu Returns serves as a testament to the enduring appeal and versatility of the Pokémon universe, proving that there is room for innovation and exploration within the well-established franchise.

In comparison to other titles within the adventure and mystery genres, Detective Pikachu Returns presents a unique blend of the Pokémon world’s intricacies and an engaging narrative that delves into the complexities of the law enforcement system. While it may not offer the same level of complexity or challenge as some of its counterparts, the game’s incorporation of Pokémon lore into its puzzles and narrative provides a captivating experience for fans of the franchise.

When compared to similar titles in the detective genre, such as the Ace Attorney series or the Professor Layton games, Detective Pikachu Returns showcases a more streamlined and accessible approach to gameplay, catering to a broader audience, including younger players. However, its exploration of darker themes and its thought-provoking critique of institutional power distinguish it from many other games targeted at a younger demographic.

The game’s emphasis on the relationship between the protagonist, Tim, and the titular Detective Pikachu adds emotional depth to the narrative, contributing to a sense of attachment and investment in the characters’ journey. This familial aspect resonates strongly with players, reminiscent of the poignant connections found in narrative-driven games like the Telltale series.

Overall, while Detective Pikachu Returns may not match the intricate gameplay mechanics or complex puzzles of some of its counterparts, its distinct portrayal of the Pokémon universe and its exploration of nuanced themes make it a compelling addition to the genre, offering a captivating experience for both Pokémon enthusiasts and fans of the mystery genre alike.

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