The most iconic child detectives in video games

Detective is a well-worn trope that pops up all over the media landscape. From old classics like Sherlock Holmes to more modern characters like Batman and Inspector Gadget, the public has long been fascinated by the life of an investigator. Video games are also no stranger to sleuthing, with many less combat-focused games like Disco Elysee and The wolf among us choosing to use crime solving as a narrative device and driving mechanics.

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A fun twist on this trope is Kid Detective. Lacking the age, experience, and respect of their adult counterparts, child detectives encounter their own unique set of challenges above those typical of a detective. Often they are new detectives, barely forced into the profession by unfortunate circumstances like the death of a loved one or the realization that the adults in their lives won’t give them the truth they desire. Much like your average detective, they come in many flavors and have been explored in many games over the years.

5 Luke Triton – Professor Layton Series

The Professor Layton is a large collection of puzzle games that primarily find their way to Nintendo’s handheld consoles. With consistently good performance, the series has carved out a place for itself among Nintendo’s tertiary intellectual properties. Luke is a little more of a junior detective than a full-fledged detective, but he’s still more than devoted to the investigative arts. Acting as Robin from Professor Layton’s Batman, Luke is a mainstay of the Professor Layton series. As Layton himself takes the lead role, solving mysteries and puzzles galore, Luke is always by his side, seeking to not only learn from Layton’s keen intellect, but also his gentlemanly aura.

Luke himself contributes a great deal to the ongoing investigations. Whether it’s helping search for clues and performing lookouts, or using his unique ability to talk to animals, Luke is always up for chasing a good mystery and puzzle.

Ayumi is a name that some Nintendo fans might remember, but don’t quite know why. She is originally from Famicom Detective Club games, a short series of detective games primarily released for Nintendo’s Famicom (NES) console in Japan. However, the original duo recently received remakes on the Switch. With the player taking on the role of an unnamed protagonist, Ayumi ends up being the series’ most recognizable face. She is a detective just like the protagonist, specifically prompted to investigate her friend’s death. After this experience, she and the protagonist end up joining a professional detective agency, looking to advance their careers.

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Ayumi is also famous as a trophy in Super Smash Bros Meleeand as a costume in Creator of Super Mario. It would have been considered playable smash character, but never got the chance due to his lack of popularity outside of Japan.

3 Max Caulfield – Life is Strange

life is strange quickly became one of Square Enix’s flagship series. Since the original game in 2015, the series has seen 4 more entries, with the latest, Life is Strange: True Colorswhich will be released in 2021. Max, however, only plays a role in the original game and its prequel Life is Strange: Before the Storm. A normal former high school girl, when Max witnesses the murder of her best friend Chloe, she inexplicably develops the ability to go back in time, allowing her to save Chloe. This acts as the main mechanic of the first game, allowing situations to be replayed and new information used to change old situations.

Max’s detective sequence comes when she decides to investigate the disappearance of Rachel, Chloe’s friend, using her new time manipulation to aid in the investigation. All this while the premonition of a great disaster hangs over their city.

2 Naoto Shirogane – Persona 4

Character is a series that many know, especially after personas 5 exploded the popularity of the series. The Character games are no stranger to putting teenage characters in charge of investigating strange occurrences, but nowhere is this stronger than in Persona 4. This entry sees the main cast investigate a series of serial murders in their hometown. Among these young detectives, Naoto stands out as the detective character par excellence.

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A descendant of a family of famous detectives, Naoto lost her parents at a young age, increasing her desire to live up to her family’s legacy. Due to her age and gender, she was often underestimated as a detective, leading her to adopt more masculine styles and a more adult presentation. Through her bond with the rest of the Persona 4 cast, she manages to come out of her shell and become a much more confident detective.

1 Kyoko Kirigiri – Danganronpa

Danganronpa is a series built on the work of amateur detective. The twisted death games at Hope’s Peak High School see the school’s many “ultimate” students encouraged to kill each other in order to escape the school and return to their normal lives. After each murder, the remaining students are tasked with investigating their classmate’s death, in order to locate the culprit and save their own lives. The protagonist of each Danganronpa The title plays a key role in bringing these investigations to their legitimate conclusions, often being the only thing that stands between the killers and their victory.

Although not the protagonist of the first game in the series, Kyoko is easily the most iconic of Danganronpadetectives. Although her classmate Makoto Naegi takes on the role of protagonist and player character, Kyoko is instrumental in finding the evidence for her to get through each class trial. True to his family’s background of detective work, even outside of the trials, his covert efforts to reveal the mastermind behind their imprisonment ultimately lead to the student’s victory. Even after escaping the first Death Game, Kyoko continues to be a leading force in the restoration effort. Danganronpa‘s world to a peaceful state.

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John C. Dent