40’s Noir is an interesting setup. Last gens L.A. Noir set a standard for what Noir could be. Chicken Police – Paint it RED!, however, took the baton, threw it on the ground, and created what we think could set the standard for storytelling.
Chicken Police on the surface is a point & click adventure set in an anthropomorphic world where you play as Sonny Featherland, a chicken who is part Max Payne and (now I’ll age myself) Sonny Bonds from the original Police Quest series brought to us by Sierra. Sonny, down on his luck and drinking until his liver explodes receives a knock on his door that will change his life. A dame in need of help asks the now tarnished detective to help her. Cats, dogs, chickens, and bugs fill this world of intrigue and secrecy.
Control-wise this is your standard point & click adventure which translates well to the Nintendo Switch. Players move the cursor around (shocking I know) in order to interact with the scene that they inhabit. Veterans of the genre will feel right at home as everything feels smooth and responsive. The added mini-games mix things up but ultimately fall back to selecting dialogue that will either help or hinder your progression. While we are teased that gunplay will be important6 early on after visiting the shooting the range, the game leans more towards the old school adventure style focusing more on story and dialogue. Yes, you experience a cool car chase sequence that sees our protagonist navigating the roads while protecting himself and his old partner Marty MacFeather from the incoming gangsters. Are the action sequences fun? Yes, but they ultimately feel disjointed and could have been delivered via cut scenes.
A bleak crime-ridden world
Visually, the game is gorgeous. The black & white art style is complemented by brilliant pops of red that stand out against the gritty backgrounds. The near photo-realistic animals (and insects) jump off the screen and welcome you as a player into this bleak crime-ridden world. While everything is delivered via stilted/static backdrops the devs have done a great job creating a world that somehow feels not only lived in but realistic enough to be a place any of us could visit. Character models are beautiful human bodies, topped with the heads of chickens, insects, dogs, cats, etc. Everything is crisp and well defined.
Audio-wise Chicken Police is a gem. The voice work which thankfully is applied throughout is top-notch. Each of the characters you interact with is graced by a fantastic actor who truly brings the character to life. There were times that this felt like an Adult Swim show that happened to be interactive. The era-appropriate Jazz music soothes your ears as you listen to the details of deceit and violence while uncovering the mystery that pits our tarnished hero against past foes and friends.
We’ve avoided discussing the story on purpose. Being a P&C title you should know what you’re getting. The story is the glue that holds this all together. Days away from retirement and on the outs with the police force, Sonny is visited by a mysterious feline in fear of her boss’s life. Everything that follows is well written and fits the narrative. Unfortunately, there are themes and threads that do not ultimately pay off. Racism, sexism, and xenophobia are presented but not expounded upon and feel like missed opportunities in the end.
Chicken Police sounds silly but is deadly serious. Point & Click fans should flock to this title. Casual gamers will also be rewarded with high production values, a solid story, and amazing sound design. The tale while not an all-timer like the aforementioned Police Quest, is strong and filled with twists and turns. Could this become a series? We hope so.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 05/11/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Puzzle
Developer: The Wild Gentlemen
Download link: US eShop / UK eshop