Detective Pikachu Returns is the sequel to the 3DS title, Detective Pikachu. Yes, the dynamic duo of Tim and Pikachu is back to solve more mysteries in Ryme City. This cute and charming outing hits the spot, as long as you’re not looking for something too deep.

If you haven’t played the first title (or you’ve forgotten the story after all these years), a handy flashback catches you up on the action. It’s a nice intro that sets the scene a few years after the events of the first outing. Tim and Pikachu are now heroes following the terrible R incident that caused Pokémon to go feral. They’re enjoying their fame and seeking more mysteries to solve together. Unfortunately, the biggest mystery remains the whereabouts of Tim’s father and Pikachu’s usual partner, Harry, who is still MIA. 

Detective Pikachu Returns - Nintendo Switch - screen 1

Gameplay is simple; in fact, simple is a good descriptor for this game overall, and not necessarily in a bad way. You play the role of Tim and Pikachu, who take on various quests across the city. Things begin with a case of a “sleeping” Pidove. This case serves as a tutorial of sorts, allowing you to talk to various humans and Pokémon to work out how to revive the dozing dove. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, our human detective, Tim, talks to the people of Ryme City while Pikachu talks to the various pocket monsters. The brilliant part is that Tim can somehow understand what Pikachu is saying; to everyone else, Pikachu is simply uttering cute “pika pika” gibberish. This rare trait creates a unique mechanic that clearly helps in the detective business. Whether it’s stolen jewels or a missing hat, there’s plenty of sleuthing to do. Well, simple sleuthing.

Detective Pikachu Returns - Nintendo Switch - screen 2

Let me be clear, this is not a difficult game. Most of the time, it feels like an interactive story merged with a mystery title. The clues are fairly obvious and the story leads you in a specific direction, almost holding your hand as you progress. These could be perceived as negative traits if you’re looking for a logic-based title to test your own detective skills. However, if you’re a younger gamer or you’re looking for a more relaxing affair, you’ll still enjoy yourself thanks to the interesting story and charming characters.

It still plays like a true mystery, though. Tim has a notebook in which clues are recorded, and each case is solved by deducing from these clues and eventually solving the mystery after you’ve discovered enough information. The only problem is that you have to find out more information before solving anything, even if the answer is obvious. To help break up this formula of talking, eliminating suspects, and making an accusation, there are also minigames of sorts interspersed throughout the proceedings. These are another simple yet fun distraction.

One of the best features of Detective Pikachu Returns is the voicework. Pikachu’s gruff voice is a stand-out, with plenty of quips about needing coffee, but there’s even more voice acting where that came from. In fact, there are many cut scenes throughout the entire adventure, each with full voice acting. It helps break up the gameplay while providing life to the characters. The music complements this, with tunes that suit the mood and fit neatly into the background. 

Detective Pikachu Returns - Nintendo Switch - screen 3

The graphics aren’t quite as impressive, with some fairly flat visuals. Having said that, it certainly looks the part of a typical Pokémon title. It doesn’t suffer from the same glitchy presentation of Scarlet/Violet, highlighting a colorfully charming world despite looking a bit dated. Simple graphics also means less reliance on hardware, and consequently, there are no loading times or other frustrating moments to worry about.

There are plenty of chances to meet and interact with both humans and Pokémon. Whether it’s Police Inspector Frank Holiday or Growlithe, the variety of characters also adds to the charm. The tongue-in-cheek humor is another positive, helping bridge that gap between a title solely for kids and one that adults will enjoy. For example, one of my favorite quips was the meta mention of a movie based on the R case.

Overall, Detective Pikachu Returns is a welcome return for our mystery-solving duo. The simple graphics and easy-to-solve mysteries help steer this towards a younger audience. You’ll still find enjoyment here, as long as you’re in the mood for a relaxing game with a good story and know what to expect.