'Detective Pikachu' Review: Unique Story Delivers a Pokémon Experience Unlike Any Other

8/10 (Switch)

Pokémon fans may remember Detective Pikachu as an incomplete episodic game that was never released outside of Japan. Two years later, the title has finally released as a full game on the Nintendo 3DS and it's a game that every Pokémon fan needs to experience.

The premise of Detective Pikachu is a bit weird and its style of gameplay is unconventional for the series, which makes this game the most unique in the entire Pokémon franchise. A lot of that has to do with the incredible story being told.


Detective Pikachu is a very narrative-driven game so the gameplay aspects are minimal. If you're familiar with point-and-click games, that's what you should expect out of this Pokémon spin-off.

Most of the game sees players controlling Tim, the main protagonist, running around each level looking for clues and gathering testimony. The levels aren't large, so exploration is somewhat limited, but the point of the game is to talk and interact with as many people, Pokémon and things as possible.

As you stumble into mysteries and tasks, it's up to you and Pikachu to put the pieces together to solve each case. Your case notes and testimonies will help remind you of the events of that particular chapter and help solve the mystery when the time comes.

detective pikachu solve
You'll need to find clues to solve problems. Nintendo

It may sound boring to anyone who is expecting any sort of action from a Pokémon game, but once you get into a groove of talking to people and looking for clues, especially in the backdrop of a stellar plot, you won't even notice it. There are moments where you have to walk from one end to a level to another that can become tedious but those are few and far between, never managing to hurt the flow of the game.

Sprinkled in every chapter are quick-time events that break up the gameplay in each level. There are only two types, however, pressing A as fast as possible to fill a gauge and another that places a greater emphasis on timing your inputs. They help to mix up the gameplay, and it would have been more interesting if the story went a different way if you fail a quick-time event, but c'est la vie.

detective pikachu and tim
Tim and Pikachu are quite the duo. Nintendo


What makes Detective Pikachu so enjoyable is its story. The team behind it carefully crafted a new world brimming with life that sucks you in unlike any other game in the series before it. Every character has distinct personalities, including the Pokémon themselves.

Fans will be familiar with how certain Pokémon act from the anime, Pokedex entries and the lore of the franchise but Detective Pikachu really delves into how certain Pokémon interact with people and other Pokémon, deepening the immersione. In the first chapter alone, you'll interact with Aipom, Murkrow, Pidove and many more. Each feels unique in how they act and talk.

As for the story beats, Tim comes to Rhyme City to look for his father. Tim's dad, Harry, is a detective who was working on a case about strange Pokémon behavior before he was involved in an accident. His Pikachu was also in the accident and lost its memories but somehow, Pikachu and Tim can speak to each other. The pair go around the city solving mysteries and finding out more information about Tim's missing dad. Throughout, even the smallest tasks/mysteries seem to involve Harry's disappearance. You'll eventually unravel a conspiracy behind it all with plenty of twists and turns to keep you hooked.

detective pikachu rampaging pokemon
Pokemon are on the rampage in 'Detective Pikachu' Nintendo

I took a very casual approach to playing Detective Pikachu , taking one chapter a day, and it was very enjoyable. Players can binge through the game but I definitely recommend a more easygoing approach. Just don't end your playtime in the middle of a chapter. Although there are plenty of save points, the mysteries rely heavily on memorization. While you can refer back to your notes, it can be tedious to find everything and remember where you left off or what you are supposed to be doing. There are nine chapters in total with each taking an hour or two to complete, so it won't take long to finish the story.


Detective Pikachu has great characters and a world any one can enjoy whether you're a Pokémon fan or not. If you're looking for deep gameplay, you won't find it here, but the story more than makes up for it. Its episodic structure makes it easy to enjoy casually or binge, and you may find it hard to put down before you get to the ending. The story gets wraps up nicely, but there's still a lot of questions that can easily lead to a sequel. We hope they make one.

Detective Pikachu is definitely worth experiencing, and one of the more unique games in the Pokémon series.