Detective Pikachu Review: A Shockingly Good Spin-Off

author byline riley

Don’t worry, Detective Pikachu is much better than the subtitle of this review, although perhaps just as cheesy. In truth, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect going into this bizarre off-shoot from the Pokemon series. Despite appearing on the Nintendo 3DS system, a platform that seemingly won’t give any ground to its exceedingly popular Switch counterpart, this is a genuinely intriguing take on the Pocket Monster property that entertains with puzzles and adds scale to the universe with a much more intimate approach to the beloved franchise.

The game starts off predictably enough, with the player-controlled Tim Goodman entering Ryme City in an effort to locate his father who went missing prior to the events of the game. It’s not long after that players are introduced to the titular Detective Pikachu, who’s voice is immediately comedic given the gravitas behind it. As the only human capable of understanding the Sherlock Holmes-inspired rodent, Tim quickly begins to build a relationship with Pikachu that’s mutually beneficial as the former sets out to locate his dad and the latter is suffering from some sort of amnesia.

For experienced gamers, the openings of Detective Pikachu may act as a mildly tedious undertaking. The initial in-game mystery really isn’t that big of a challenge, as players with any sense of gaming familiarity will be able to walk around and piece together what has happened. In that regard, The Pokemon Company has ensured a much more accessible title for gamers of all ages, as establishing major clues is more or less a matter of trial and error in any given environment. Mysteries progressively become more and more challenging, and it becomes exceedingly difficult to get ahead of the puzzle until all of the clues have been gathered up and are in front of players.

Still, the plot is one of intrigue that constantly pushes fans forward. The desire to locate Tim’s father and assist Detective Pikachu in regaining his memories is further built upon through a mysterious chemical simply called “R” that makes Pokemon incredibly aggressive. As the plot progresses, more and more information is built up until aspiring sleuths are finally exposed to the truth behind the mishaps and disappearances in Ryme City.

detective pikachu screenshots
If it wasn’t immediately apparent from the smug grin on Detective Pikachu, this is a very different take on the electrifying face of Pokemon.

Knowing a fair amount about the franchise’s lore helps to draw conclusions a little more quickly, as there are trademarks of each monster roaming around the world of Pokemon that may go over the heads of casual fans. Whether that be Pokedex descriptions or elemental typing that are so prominent in the core RPG entries, each reference is based firmly in the source material which makes the wacky descriptors occasionally laugh-out-loud worthy.

Add in constant quips from Detective Pikachu, cinematic quick time events that help to emphasize particularly intense action segments, and a particularly campy mantra to the action on-screen and it suddenly becomes quite easy for fans to surrender the time necessary to see to the finale of the experience.

Detective Pikachu fails to give an investigative title like Rockstar Games’ L.A. Noire a run for its money, but that’s not really what’s expected from the software. Instead, the game entertains through its spectacular world-building, always-engaging title character, and quirky dialogue. While solving cases can sometimes feel a little tedious as users compile evidence in a similar manner, there’s little preventing this from being one of the more memorable and worthwhile Pokemon spin-offs ever made.

Detective Pikachu is now available exclusively on Nintendo 3DS. Okay, Cool was provided with a digital code for Detective Pikachu by Nintendo for review purposes.

Feel free to follow Riley on Twitter @TheRileyLittle for (often foolish) takes on gaming, film, and more.

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