Detective Pikachu Returns Review — A Formulaic Adventure

The greatest Pokémon detective is back for round two in Detective Pikachu Returns, a Nintendo Switch sequel to the 3DS original game released in 2016. The titular character and his partner Tim return to Ryme City for this second outing.

I want to be transparent, I have only ever given any Pokémon game more than an hour of my attention as they never appealed to me. I never played the original but I did watch and loved the movie that came out on the silver screen. So in saying that, I think I had some small understanding of what I would be in for with Detective Pikachu Returns. 

Detective Pikachu is back

The game starts after the events of the first game with Pikachu and Tim in Ryme City awaiting an award for their efforts in solving the R incident in the previous title. The game’s introduction before this did a good job of recapping this, so you can jump straight in without playing the original game on 3DS.

As the award ceremony is taking place, a huge Pokémon comes down from the sky and starts to wreak havoc on the peaceful town and in the process manages to abscond with Pikachu’s signature detective hat. Well we can’t have that, can we? So it’s with these events that the events of Detective Pikachu Returns launch off. After a quick tutorial where you learn the basics of the game, your first case begins. Someone has managed to steal a valuable item from one of the richest people in Ryme City and it’s up to Tim and Pikachu to assist the police and solve the case.

Immediately as Detective Pikachu Returns started I was impressed with the overall presentation of the game. It was colourful and vibrant. I fell in love with the graphics as they showed off what the Nintendo Switch is capable of, whether it was in handheld or docked mode. All the characters looked impressive and moved fluidly. I really can’t sing the praises of how appealing this game looks overall, there is not a single part in this game that looks low-resolution or needs time to load up.

The game looks great in handheld or docked modes

The voice acting was top notch too and I loved all the talking moments in the game. I didn’t feel like there was a bad performance. All of the game’s acting performances were spoken and suited each of the characters. The main actors for Pikachu and Tim were standouts and the addition of Tim’s friend (maybe romantic interest) Rachel was on point. While these performances won’t win any awards, I was genuinely looking forward to each cutscene. The dialogue wasn’t too corny and it kept me engaged when these scenes played out.

Unfortunately, a lot of the game dialogue is subtitle reading areas and left voice acting for main story points or Detective Pikachu Returns, something I really hate in games. But considering the storage that game carts on the Switch hold, it’s a small compromise for how well everything works in this game.

Tim and Rachel are stand outs in the voice-over department

Music is normally very catchy for most of the game, with maybe one exception, but I’m really just nitpicking as most of the tracks were catchy and I even caught myself bopping away to a few of them. Overall the game’s soundtrack is great, changing for each of the few areas you explore.

While most cases in Detective Pikachu Returns take place in Ryme City, a few of them will venture out to outer city areas that do a great job of mixing up the landscape to keep you engaged with a good variation of Pokémon scattered across the land. There are lots of side missions to complete as well as interviewing many of the inhabitants of each area to assist you in your investigations. It was only when I started my third investigation that I noticed how formulaic and repetitive each mission was. Don’t get me wrong, I still found all of them to be a lot of fun as each story managed to connect with the overarching story continued from the original Detective Pikachu game which revolves around Tim’s father who is still missing and is also Pikachu’s former partner. This however doesn’t change the overall game mechanics.

Each investigation would typically start with you being presented with the case and then interviewing each of the involved characters and as you gather evidence would add them to your notes. From there, you will need to deduce all the information and come to a conclusion. Most of these were simple to complete and didn’t rack my brain too much. You can tell that Detective Pikachu Returns is aimed at the younger audience but at the same time, I had fun playing this with my wife sitting on the couch and getting involved. I could also see this as a fun experience for the gamers out there with little padawan gamers of their own. 

There is more than just talking to be done in the game

With the main mechanics being the overall investigation there are a number of side missions per case that require you to locate certain Pokémon thanks to the ‘Puzzle Master’, a recurring character who shows up in each area where the cases take you. As well as other characters asking for small favours along the way, who ask you to assist in finding lost items or Pokémon. These are often simplistic and offer nothing really in return in terms of collectables, EXP or trophies of some sort. In addition to there, some stealth areas require you to sneak past humans or Pokémon, which again, are simple but add to the game padding and talking in the game.

In saying how simple the overall game was, I enjoyed this game as my first-ever Pokémon experience. I think the overall presentation is something that will appeal to not just Pokémon fans, but puzzle/detective gaming fans everywhere.


Whether you are playing this on the go or sitting on the couch, the story of Detective Pikachu Returns is engaging and kept me wanting to play through the game even though it got repetitive at times and I feel that says a lot for the overall presentation of the game. If you have a little one or a Pokémon fan in the house, don’t skip this game.



  • The presentation deserves a Nintendo Seal of Quality stamp

  • Voice acting is top-notch

  • The story will keep you engaged from start to finish

  • Great to play with loved ones


  • Each case feels repetitive

  • I wish they used more voiceovers than relying on text

A review code was supplied by the publisher for purposes of this review.

Detective Pikachu Returns is available now on Nintendo Switch.

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