Pikachu is the iconic mascot of Pokémon, and as such it serves as no surprise that the yellow electric mouse has his own spin-off game. One that I was looking forward to ahead of this Detective Pikachu review.
With the series by Nintendo going in a fun direction, I was ready to get my Sherlock Holmes on and do some investigating.
You star as Tim, and you and your Pika-pal Detective Pikachu must work together to solve puzzles, solve cases and… drink coffee in this point and click style adventure mystery?
How does Detective Pikachu play?
A while ago I reviewed a game called “the book of unwritten tales” – and this is sort of like that, a broken sword for younger generations. The game effectively comes down to flitting between characters in the ‘case area’ until you have enough clues to solve the thing in front of you.
simply moving around the map, controlling Tim like a standard character, interacting and then choosing from the drop down the thing you want to say or ask, will make up the bulk of the gameplay, so you won’t be overwhelmed with a lot of control options.
Like broken sword and Book of unwritten tales, this was actually the part of the game I most identified as ‘Marmite’ in that you will either love it or hate it.
I personally found it very frustrating that I had to ask the specific NPC a question to unlock the dialogue option to do the specific thing I had figured out I needed to almost as soon as I saw it.
if you ask the right question or interact with the right piece of scenery, you will unlock the next prompt, meaning you often have to talk to characters multiple times to complete an area.
The example I give isn’t even the first one I came across, but it seems that this is simply the formula for approaching this sort of game.
Presentation and Graphics
There is a moment really early on, where Tim leaves a subway station and a noibat (that’s a Pokémon for you who don’t know) flies past him, and the city street bustles with people and Pokémon. This gives Detective Pikachu a scale unlike that seen in Pokémon games traditionally.
It is gorgeous, and not just that, the voice acting is really good for a Pokémon game, Pikachu talks too, which seems weird conceptually, but once you play the game it becomes apparent why.
In fact, I can’t really fault any of the design choices, even the menu is fine, it does exactly what it needs to do and allows the player to get on with the dialogue and evidence collecting, relatively stress-free.
Tim arrives in town to find his missing father, Pikachu is looking for Tim’s father, who is his partner (owner and master sounded a bit… slavery?!). The game breaks down into sections where the pair must interview humans and Pokémon (thus the need for Pikachu to talk) to solve a variety of cases and scenarios.
These will vary in length and complexity, but the formula never really deviates, and therefore you may have mentally figured out the solution before the game lets you reach it.
You do have a Pikachu button you can press, where detective Pikachu will then either bestow a tip, or perform a silly animation.
The game knows not to take itself too seriously at times.
For example – I mentioned knowing what I wanted to do – there was a section that required me to convince an ice type pokemon to freeze some water so I could pass over the water without hindrance.
the trouble was, I had to ask the right character a specific question, to be given a hint about the ice type pokemon’s ability to freeze water, before I could ask the pokemon, to freeze the water, whilst this makes sense, the logic is wrong, as people who are informed about pokemon would immediately make this jump.
Should You Play Detective Pikachu?
I always feel quite weird telling you what I feel is safe to tell you about the game I am reviewing, because I believe that people should give things a go on their own merit.
That said there is always a need for games to be separated in such ways.
If you like a game that is a little different, this is definitely it, if you like point and click and investigation games, this game is certainly for you.
I, like many games, like to be in charge of my own progression, and as such I found it incredibly frustrating when I had to find the right NPC to ask a question to, to get the right dialogue option, to then ask another character to do a specific thing, and if this is your idea of hell, run, run fast.
Broken sword, book of unwritten tales, sam and max, I can’t think of any others, but this isn’t like traditional Pokémon games in many respects.
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Beautiful Visuals||Illogical logic|
|Voice acting||Overly repetitive|
|New take on long standing franchise|
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About This Detective Pikachu Review
Game Reviewed: Detective Pikachu
Review Format: Nintendo 3DS
PEGI Rating: 3