Detective Pikachu Returns Review - Soft-Boiled
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Detective Pikachu Returns Review - Soft-Boiled

Pokemon has flourished as a series in part because it crosses generations. The main series of creature-collecting RPGs and popular TCG are simple enough for children just starting to learn about role-playing-game mechanics, but with enough complexity and depth to support a flourishing competitive scene for adults. Pokemon's spin-offs, on the other hand, are usually more narrowly targeted, and that's the case for Detective Pikachu Returns. The narrative-heavy adventure game certainly has its charms, but it's so gentle and simplistic that only younger pocket monster fans need apply.

Like the first Detective Pikachu, you play primarily as Tim Goodman, the college-aged son of renowned detective Harry Goodman, who has gone missing since before the first game. You're accompanied by Harry's partner, a Pikachu in a deerstalker cap who considers himself a great detective. Tim is the only human who can communicate with Pikachu, and while neither of them are officially part of any police force, they find themselves embroiled in investigations surrounding strange happenings in Ryme City. And naturally, Tim is still searching for answers about what happened to his father.

In classic adventure-game style, most of your investigations revolve around searching around environments for evidence, talking to witnesses, and ultimately reaching a conclusion based on what you found. The crimes here are relatively low-stakes and child-friendly--a jewel heist, wrongful arrests of innocent Pokemon, and so on. For a series that has built its name on battling, there's shockingly little violence between Pokemon themselves. If two Pokemon are coming to blows, or even threatening to do so, it's treated like an emergency. That's because in Ryme City, Pokemon are treated like fellow citizens, and the city prides itself on peaceful coexistence between humans and the creatures.

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