Chicken Police is a narrative-driven detective game that hits all the right notes thanks to a stylish film noir presentation and a compelling story.
At first glance, it is tough to come up with a sensible first impression of Chicken Police: Paint It Red. Developer The Wild Gentlemen created a game that is distinctive in practically every way, whether it is the film noir visuals or the fact that all the characters are human-animal hybrids clearly inspired by BoJack Horseman. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, and it certainly makes this one of the most noticeable titles that HandyGames has published in recent memory, as it forcefully grabs player attention from the very first scene and doesn’t let go from there.
At its core, Chicken Police is a kind of cross between a visual novel and an old-school adventure game. The gameplay largely revolves around investigating scenes for clues and insight with the cursor or by talking with other characters. Players will also have to solve a few puzzles, which have quite elegant solutions but are not too mentally taxing, which are further complemented by some sparse but exciting action-filled moments. The latter can involve shootouts with bad guys or having to escape a particularly sticky situation, although there are only a handful of these instances throughout the whole game.
The main portion of Chicken Police gameplay comes in its interrogations. Players are given multiple choices for what to ask the suspect or witness and have to take into account the traits of the individual being questioned, along with impressions gleaned during the process that might change that opinion. It all feels very much like L.A. Noire without the silly facial expressions and breaks up the action nicely. The lack of proper, focus-intensive gameplay might put off some, yet it works well in allowing the player to concentrate fully on the narrative and characters. Considering that is where Chicken Police excels, the decision certainly makes sense.
The story of Chicken Police revolves around Sonny Featherland and his former partner Marty MacChicken. The pair once made up the legendary Chicken Police but are now just shells of their former selves. Sonny is on paid leave from the police force when he is dragged into a mystery thriller that takes many different twists and turns as it progresses. Much of the focus of Chicken Police is put on its strong narrative, which keeps the player’s attention throughout. It gets a little predictable as the conclusion approaches and the shock reveal near the end doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but the plot remains engrossing enough up to that point and still comes together in a satisfying enough way.
What really helps Chicken Police is the story that exists outside of or tangentially to its main plot. There’s a wide array of compelling characters to meet in a variety of different locations, and Chicken Police allows players to talk to them endlessly, finding out more about their personal histories and motivations. Fascinating stories are hidden in each conversation and players only have to dig a little to uncover them. After just a few hours, it’s easy to become very invested in Clawville and its citizens.
What makes the world of Clawville all the more interesting is the little teasers that Chicken Police reveals about the wider in-game world. The title contains a lot of lore and there is talk of different animal nations, meat wars, and even mythical creatures known as humans. While the developer is careful enough not to reveal too much, there is the right amount of intrigue and it opens up the world for further exploration in subsequent releases to answer some of the remaining questions.
In addition to a great story, Chicken Police also has an exceptional presentation. The visuals are cinematic, with a photorealistic effect that gives the world a feeling of authenticity. Chicken Police looks like a film-noir movie brought to life, with the addition of oddly fascinating animal heads transplanted onto human-looking bodies for some spice. Backing up the stylish graphics is a great soundtrack and some excellent voice acting that brings every character to life.
Chicken Police tells a compelling story and features a cast of interesting characters that together prove to be completely engrossing. It entices players to follow its winding narrative through to the very end and, combined with the stylish presentation and fun interrogation-based gameplay, is an easy recommendation to anyone looking for a primarily story-driven experience that pays the player’s time investment off in spades.
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Chicken Police: Paint It Red is due to launch on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox today, November 5. Screen Rant was provided with a digital Xbox One download code for the purposes of this review.
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