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Duck Detective: The Secret Salami review – A meaty but short-lived film noir inspired mystery

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami review – A meaty but short-lived film noir inspired mystery

The Duck Detective is on the case

Oh, to be a duck and a detective – that’s the dream. Maybe not your dream, but it was mine after seeing this indie game inching ever closer to its release date. What can I say, animals behaving like humans is a trope that I adore for its absurdity.

We’ve all seen geese on a rampage, honking as they beg, steal, and borrow. But what about the ducks who’ve spent years honing their investigative skills? They’re yet to own the spotlight. Eugene, aka the Duck Detective, is trying to change the status quo one mystery at a time.

Are you ready to solve this case, detective? Check out Duck Detective: The Secret Salami trailer now

Much like the film noir characters of old, this detective is having a rough time; going through a divorce, little to no money, and a lack of jobs will do that to a duck. But while this down-on-his-luck duck isn’t breezing through life, he has a skillset that few others can rival: a beak for solving mysteries.

As the tinkle of ivory plays a relaxed jazz number in the background, the Duck Detective is sent to BearBus, a company plagued by the Salami Bandit. All the initial evidence points to one culprit and one culprit only, but this feels all too neat... too planned. Is someone being unfairly framed? That’s what the duck Detective intends to find out.

To do this, you’ll need to talk with NPCs, learn their personalities, maybe a secret or two, and analyse their behaviour. This aspect of the gameplay reminded me of Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments, but without the finesse that Holmes has. Not to do the Duck Detective a disservice, but he's rough around the edges in a gritty way Sherlock could never be. Though, as the case nears its conclusion, we see the great Duck Detective have a flair for the overdramatic.

I had fun with this title, as promised by its Steam description. Nevertheless, it was far from a perfect experience. Although it has charm and humour, it never manages to hit its stride. Arguably, this is due to its short timeframe: the whole thing can be finished within four hours tops. This short completion time, partnered with the restricted location, made the twists in the narrative feel underwhelming.

Happy Broccoli Games

Early on, you see that the accused isn’t the person you need to keep your eyes on. Then before long, it becomes all too obvious who’s to blame for this crime. I didn’t expect this to be some Poirot-style case, however, I’d hoped to be challenged a little more; The Duck Detective plays it too safe, too cosy. Obviously, a game should never drag out the story for the sake of it – length doesn’t equal enjoyment – but this story felt undercooked.

Putting aside my grievances regarding its play time, I have to say that the Aggretsuko inspired characters with their over-the-top mannerism made this predictable romp entertaining. Although we didn’t get to know the characters very well or for very long, they left an impression; Margaret especially. I also adored its visuals. This isn’t the first indie title to be inspired by pop-up books and cardboard cutouts, but it is one of the more polished versions of that aesthetic. I’m not sure why this art style was chosen considering the film noir theme the developers were going for, but despite that disconnect between the two, I still found the visuals attractive.

Much potential lies within the tale of the BearBus scandal; however, it’s sadly never fully realised. Despite being an underdog you can’t help but root for, the Duck Detective is a mixed experience – it straddles the gap between greatness and prosaic, never able to settle on either side of the divide.

I’d still recommend waddling down the streets of this world, but with the caveat that it’s the briefest of journeys over far too soon for such a big personality as the Duck Detective.

Pros: Funny characters, delightful visuals, and simple gameplay

Cons: Too short, and too predictable

For fans of: L.A Noir, This Bed We made, Frog Detective

7/10: Very Good

The Duck Detective: The Secret Salami is available now on Nintendo Switch (version tested) and Steam. Review code was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Happy Broccoli Games

Topics: Indie Games, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Steam