Review – Detective Pikachu

An investigative game starring a talking Pikachu with a deep voice, a game set in the Pokémon world in which there are no battles or an emphashis on catching them all, a game that is basically Nintendo’s take on LA Noire, released on the nearly-obsolete 3DS. If anything, one can say Detective Pikachu‘s premise isn’t for everyone, and it could easily make fans feel a bit skeptical about the title. Leave it to Nintendo to make a very good game out of such a nonsensical elevator pitch.

Calm down ESRB, that’s just ketchup

Technically speaking, Detective Pikachu is nothing more than your typical old-school adventure title. Levels consist of finding items and talking to witnesses until you acquire enough evidence to determine who the culprit is. Better yet, you need to acquire enough evidence until the game tells you that you’re already able to determine who the culprit is. Detective Pikachu is clearly aimed at a younger demographic, and its easy and forgivable gameplay is proof: the game never lets you fail a mission, nor does it punish you for not doing everything right on your first attempt. It’s a very laid back experience, in fact.

You control a human kid named Tim, and not the actual Pikachu. Your yellow buddy acts as a voice of consciousness, a helping guide of sorts. As Tim, your job is to gather items and talk to witnesses, while Pikachu will eventually tell you what to do next and tell a funny joke every now and then. It’s your typical “console” point and click adventure, with the addition of a few QTEs every now and then. It’s not shocking (no pun intended) by any means. It’s pretty simplistic gameplay. You may use the touchscreen to check at your inventory or your case notes, but most of the gameplay is centered on the bigger screen of the 3DS.

He gets me

The best aspects of the game are its visuals and sound design. Detective Pikachu is one of the best looking 3DS games I’ve ever seen, boasting great FMV visuals, detailed levels and characters, colorful backgrounds and, for the most part, a decent framerate. Each single Pokémon is very well-designed and looks more realistic than its Sun & Moon counterparts. The sound design is also top notch: the soundtrack is decent for the most part, while Tim’s and Pikachu’s voice actors do a great job. It’s no Danny DeVito, but Pikachu’s voice actor still does a great performance, especially considering his voice has little resemblance to the small and cute character he portrays. The other monsters, on the other hand, don’t feature stellar voice acting. The problem isn’t the acting itself, given how all they do is growl their names every now and then, but the fact three or four people do the voice acting for the dozens of monsters in the game is annoying, especially when bigger monsters like a Mightyena feature the same kiddy sound as a Litwick does.

A mouse of refined taste

Detective Pikachu isn’t a challenging experience, nor does it feature difficult puzzles or failing situations, but it shines at being a family-friendly introduction to games like LA Noire, with a very forgiving difficulty curve, likable characters, a great sense of humor and a very interesting story. It’s a new take on the Pokémon franchise, and a good one at that, providing the franchise’s world with a lot more depth than just another story about becoming a master and catching lots of monsters.

Graphics: 9.0

With the exception of some occasional framerate issues, the game features excellent graphics with an impressive amount of detail, especially for the 3DS.

Gameplay: 7.5

A simple control scheme that resembles point and click adventures, with really simplistic puzzles and occasional usage of the touchscreen.

Sound: 8.5

A decent soundtrack with excellent voice acting coming from the main characters, amateurish voice acting from all of the other Pokémon in the game.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The game provides little actual challenge, being a more forgiving and family-friendly LA Noire, but its sense of humor and interesting story more than make up for it.

Final Verdict: 8.0