The 1 to 5 on games: Chicken Police

This format is a shorter, more to the point, off-shot of the normal review/op-eds I normally do. A ranking will be given at the end from a scale that starts at (from the lowest to the highest): Bad – meh – fine – good – great. Anything not appropriate for these “scores” will likely warrant a more in-depth discussion, which is what I normally do, so this range does not cover all games, just the ones that I think are suited to this format.

I really like the idea of adding a simple wrinkle to a fairly told story, as a means to create novelty and fun, new avenues to explore, while remaining true or “loyal” to the blueprint set before you; Lynch’s “What did Jack do?” is a great example of that, and (shameless plug) I did that as well very recently (wink). Chicken police can be easily described like that and that would be the review: It’s a film noir story with point & click gameplay and humor, but its animals instead of people. Unlike “What did Jack do?” though, the developers don’t use this novelty to create something creative, interesting, or noteworthy; instead, the description is what they deliver on, but add fair as an adjective. It’s a fair film noir story, a fair point & click game, a fairly funny game; that’s not to discredit the game or the experience it provides, its just to set the proper expectations for it. You’ve played it before, you’ve heard it before, you’ve read it before, but if the novelty of the visuals and some gameplay elements are what you want as a hardcore fan of this type of games, then this is a fair experience.

Chicken Police follows the story of Sonny Featherland and Marty MacChicken as the legendary police duo, which reunites for one final mission, just before Sonny’s retirement; I’m going to say this, right off the bat, this game’s story is not its good point nor will it ever surprise you. Having said that, it does the basic job of setting up puns, interviews, and having enough flair to get players interested in the overall progression of the mystery. The writing however was surprisingly good in spots; they obviously have an affinity to make jokes and puns, but I did find those to be the least interesting parts of the writing. The characters are walking and talking cliches, but through their absurdity, they manage to create solid enough characters and relationships, where I found them oddly compelling.

Less so about the gameplay though; Chicken Police has a few different gameplay mini-games up its sleeve, but it actually remains literally faithful to point & click. Sometimes you point to objects and click to interact with them in a variety of ways, other times its about pointing your gun and clicking to fire it; none of these events are especially noteworthy or interesting, however they work as distractions and pacing mechanisms for the experience, rather as gameplay mechanics. The main gameplay appeal though, sadly is less excusable and far worse than the mini-games. Interrogations are, in concept, a neat idea that was executed very poorly; basically, it tried to remove the problem that old point & click adventure games had, of needing to pick up everything and back tracking if you missed something, by having a “skill check” through interrogating a suspect. So, you still need to pay attention and click on everything, but you don’t need to pick it up at the end; however, it fails to address the main issue of those games, which was “dev logic”. For those who don’t know, “dev logic” is when a puzzle has a solution that requires figuring out the logic the dev had when designing it, rather than common sense or logic. So, swap having to guess the gnome’s name in the original King’s Quest with being given traits of interviewees and then guessing which of the five (mostly) identical lines are the correct ones, not by logic, but by “dev logic”. Since the release of the game, the devs have updated the game to have a retry button at the end of the interview, and I honestly don’t know how optional it is to get them right, but I started consulting a walkthrough halfway through for the interviews and that made my experience a lot better.

Although the game is not great by most standards, I do believe the studio behind it, did enough in the audiovisual department to warrant a playthrough. Chicken Police is not a stunning looking game, but it is a very smartly designed one; besides the novelty of using animals in a noir story, they also use FMV as the basis and filters/props to make the setting look realistic and consistent. Moreover, the music’s jazzy tones fit in well with what the game is going for and aren’t half bad either. The result is interesting and works for the most part in creating an atmosphere and a tone straight out of most film noir movies, but with more humor and puns.

Overall, Chicken Police is a FINE game. It does what it sets out to do and delivers interesting presentation and a few fun moments, but gameplay setbacks and a lackluster story, ultimately brand this game as a “wishlist” game; you add it there and when a good sale comes, you get it, when the expectations are low, and you have fun for a while and never think about it again.

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