Prepare to meet the best clucking detectives around. With a by-the-numbers film noir plot and an incredible cast, Chicken Police is simply a treat.
Imagine a classic film noir: the jaded PI, the Femme Fatale, the ambient jazz, and black and white visuals. Now imagine it all with talking chickens. That is Chicken Police: Paint it Red, an indie visual novel adventure hybrid with a gripping story and a fantastic cast.
Chicken Police is a film noir-turned-game that plays hard into the tropes and clichés of the cinematic genre. But everyone in the game is a human-animal hybrid, from cats and snakes to antelopes and giraffes. It’s a weird, almost ridiculous idea, but it works – just like it does in Sam and Max and Pixar’s Zoopotia.
You play as detective Sonny Featherland, one half of the legendary duo commonly known as the Chicken Police (because they are both police officers and also roosters). Sonny is your typical detective. He drinks, he’s cynical, and he waxes poetic about the corrupt city and its residents.
Like any classic detective story, this one starts with a woman and a threat. It quickly evolves into a crime drama full of sketchy characters, murder, and betrayal – as one would expect from the genre. Chicken Police is all about its story and delivers it through lots and lots of dialogue. Luckily, the plot and the writing keep you enthralled, and I always found it hard to put the game down.
A big part of why the story is so engaging is the truly fantastic voice acting. The game is fully-voiced (thank all that is furry), and every one of the characters you meet has a unique voice. Lewis, the jittery rabbit, and the mysterious Madame Zaiwass are among my favorites. And there’s the excellent performance of the main protagonist Sonny – always dramatic and always on point.
Since there’s so much talking going on in Chicken Police, the game plays mostly like a visual novel. Be prepared to sit through a lot of expertly-delivered dialogue, with very little choice of what you’re going to say.
From time to time, you’ll get to interrogate (or “question”) a suspect. Here, you get to choose your questions to figure out which one will push the conversation in the right direction. During the interrogation, Sonny makes vague observations that hint at what you should focus on. Some characters are trickier to suss out – it all depends on how much you understand them and their motives.
Occasionally, you encounter one of a handful of minigames. Personally, I’m not a fan of minigames in adventure games, and these did not change my mind. There’s a couple of shooting galleries, a “trace the lines” puzzle, and more. They all seem to work better using a mouse, but since I played the game on the Switch (and the game does not support touch controls), the minigames were more annoying than anything else.
When you’re not talking with anyone, Chicken Police is more like a point-and-click adventure, where you scan the screen for points of interest. Most are there just to add a little more volume to the scene, but together they craft a rich world with a lot of intriguing lore to discover.
It’s a Wide, Wild World
One of the best things about Chicken Police is how rich its world is – even beyond the scope of the game itself. Playing through it paints a picture of a living, breathing world that was here before you started playing and will be there long after.
You’ll learn about Clawville, the rainy city the game takes place in, but also about places far beyond its borders. You’ll read about the Wilderness’s history, neighboring kingdoms, and past wars – all in short, easy to digest codex entries.
Add the striking black-and-white visuals and the detailed scenery, and you have a game you’d love exploring. Frankly, I’m curious to see what other stories developer The Wild Gentlemen can concoct within this wild world they crafted.
Chicken Police takes you on a wild chase through the rainy streets, where you meet memorable characters, and slowly unravels a riveting mystery. And the phenomenal voice acting is the cherry on top.
If you’re not into games where most of what you do is talk, then this one won’t change your mind. But fans of detective games visual novels will love Chicken Police and its film noir aesthetic. I do hope Sonny and Marty, the titular detective duo, will be back for more adventures in the future.
Developer: The Wild Gentlemen
Release Date: Nov. 5, 2020
Our Chicken Police review copy was provided by the publisher.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.