Chicken Police? You’ve got to be clucking kidding me.
Everyone loves a good detective story; tales filled with action, adventure, interrogations and crimes. A good detective story also often has a little bit of humour to help the audience connect with the characters. Chicken Police, from developer The Wild Gentlemen, has all of those things and more. It’s wrapped up in a 1940s film noir-inspired style with personified animals as its characters. It’s engaging, at times perplexing, but it definitely knows how to keep its players hooked.
The story of Chicken Police is one you’ve probably heard before. It’s about a down-and-out police detective named Sonny Featherland. He is soon to be retired, but has just taken on a new case. Unfortunately, the case is a bit more serious than he thought. He decides to recruit the help of his old partner, Marty MacChicken, to help him. The two fowls have an awkward history involving Marty shooting Sonny with a shotgun, but the duo decide to put their differences behind them to get to the bottom of this new case. Without spoiling too much of the story, let’s just say it involves a beautiful cat who has started getting aggressive hate messages. It’s a story of love, death, and redemption, and it only gets more intriguing as you progress.
From the very beginning, I was impressed with Chicken Police. It follows a formula reminiscent of visual novels; you’ll click through dialogue and make choices along the way. Chicken Police, however, throws the exciting element of interrogations into the mix. You’re also able to look around each environment you’re in to collect certain things for later use, like in a point-and-click adventure.
The addition of a fully-voiced cast gives Chicken Police a very polished feel, and makes it much more engaging. Everyone from Sonny and Marty to a random possum you meet on the street has their own actor to bring that character to life. There are over 30 characters you will meet and speak to while you’re playing the game, all fully voiced. And there isn’t a bad one in the bunch. The quality of the actors is incredibly impressive and noteworthy along with the game’s phenomenal script.
Despite these characters being animals with human-like bodies, the setting Clawville feels realistic. The characters, even the minor ones, have an innate depth to them. It’s easy to imagine these characters have real, full lives that players have simply flown into the middle of. Sonny has all of the experience and memories of an old-time detective, and players will get glimpses into his past throughout the story. Chicken Police’s concept might be a strange one, but the noir style plus these unforgettable characters really goes a long way to immerse the player.
When you’re not speaking with characters and interrogating animals that might have information to help with your investigation, you’ll be trying to solve minor puzzles. The first real puzzle I came across was a fake fireplace with a combination I needed to crack. After a bit of poking around it was pretty easy to find the solution. You’ll come across puzzles like this a few times during the game. But there are also some more exciting moments, including a car chase with some gun play. These elements break up the longer sections of dialogue-heavy gameplay.
Chicken Police also has quite a bit of clever humour tucked in between its serious moments. From the very start players will see a sign that says “Clawville: The Most Colourful Place in the Wilderness.” Since the game is presented in black and white, this is a fun little jest. There’s also a moment in the Hop-Dog Diner where you can zoom in on the bar and you’ll see the words “Where’s all the color gone?” These subtle moments compliment the more obvious humorous jokes you’ll get from Marty, who is obsessed with bringing his shotgun with him everywhere he goes, and the other cast of rats, raccoons, llamas and more that you’ll meet along the way.
The only real problem I came across when playing Chicken Police was occasionally not being sure where to go next. A game might often tell you, “There’s more you need to find in this area before you leave”, and it won’t let you leave until you’ll find the thing you need. But Chicken Police more or less lets you roam about wherever you wish. Better signposting would be useful at times to avoid you wasting time in areas you don’t need to be. At one point, I went to the police station and spoke with every character. Only later did I find out I didn’t need to go back there until much later.
There’s a lot to love about Chicken Police. Clawville is such a unique city and I wish I could spend more time there getting to know its history and its residents. Sonny is a dark but quirky protagonist and he’s a pleasure to step into the shoes of. It’s a mature title with violence and cursing, however, so don’t let the cute animals fool you. If you’re looking for a engaging detective story with a very distinctive flavour, Chicken Police should be the top of your list.