It’s not often that the name of a game alone will make me take an interest, but Chicken Police is one such game. Whether it was a game about chicken police officers, or a fowl crimes division staffed by humans, I would have been happy with either bit of absurdity. It’s the former, of course, as this noir point and click game introduces the hard boiled detective Sonny Featherland, who is an actual chicken.
Technically, Detective Featherland is a chicken-man, similar to mythical hybrid beasts like griffins or Egyptian gods. He’s got the head of a chicken, with feathers and everything, but from the neck down he’s all arms, legs, and trenchcoat. The rest of the cast of Chicken Police is a similar menagerie of animals from cats and dogs through impalas and flies.
When Deborah the Impala turns up at the beginning of the game to direct Sonny to her boss, it’s clear that Chicken Police is something special. It nails the noir aesthetic and the music conjures the exact right tone. Sonny’s dry and vaguely poetic dialogue as you select things around his office are dead on as well, not to mention his gravelly detective voice. Most importantly, the conversations you have with Deborah and others throughout the game feel like actual conversations, where you usually need to convince someone to hand over any really important information.
It leads to a surprisingly immersive point and click game, especially considering its comedic twist. If it wasn’t for the occasional eggcellent pun, someone occasionally saying “what the cluck,” and the characters’ names, a listener would be convinced that it was a serious noir detective film.
But it isn’t and it’s all the better for it. There’s plenty of silly animal puns, but it’s a constant delight that often subverts the obvious jokes you’d expect from lower quality writing, embedding it in conversations full of world building and characters reveals. Whether it’s Sonny and his partner chatting about meat substitutes, direct questioning, or idle chat with one of Sonny’s old friends, dialogue is never superfluous or just for a joke, you’re usually receiving more information about characters or the world with a tongue in cheek slant.
Games often struggle to deliver information to the player without it feeling like an information dump, but Chicken Police delivers all of the information you need so naturally that it shames many AAA games. It’s such an interesting world as well, set in the city of Clawville where some establishments ban insects from the premises and where the mafia is ran by an actual rat. It’s all coated in the expected amount of absurdity, but the quality of the voice actors and the depth in the writing really sell the setting as a real place and it’s one that is very endearing.
Your investigation has you following up on some rather threatening messages sent to Deborah’s boss, Natasha Catzenko. In standard point and click fashion, you can look at people you’re about to talk to, with Sonny’s comment giving you a quick idea about them before picking up a conversation. That conversation can lead to getting some new information, which you can then follow up on to try and uncover more details.
Alternatively you can interrogate someone once you find them to be a person of interest. This will have Sonny give you his read on how to go about getting information out of the suspect, and you’ll then have to choose between dialogue options for the one that best fits that plan. It’s surprisingly effective as a gameplay mechanic as it can feel like you’re walking on eggshells one moment and pressing the advantage the next. You even get a rating after the interrogation so you know how well you did, but mess it up and you’ll get less information.
Thankfully you don’t have to write all your leads down as Sonny keeps a journal that tracks everything important in almost exhaustive detail. One problem with the journal though is that, whilst it does tell you when new info is added, it doesn’t tell you where it is, so you won’t know where to look when flicking through its pages. You also have a bag to carry any useful or suspect items around, though the game’s UI is a little awkward here using shoulder buttons to cycle through the available items.
Elsewhere there’s the stereotypical lack of clarity that point and click games tend to bring with them, which resulted in me occasionally going between locations until I found a solution to a puzzle, but there are optional hints from the pause menu if you get stuck. There’s a few faster paced parts to the game, but the vast majority of it is going to be lengthy, deep conversations as well. If that’s not your thing you probably already know to avoid this genre anyway.