Now listen up and listen well, wiseguy. This shamus don’t take too kindly to rubes, so one wrong look and I’ll bop ya. I don’t carry around this bean-shooter for nothing so if you’re gonna crack wise, think twice. Someone’s been bumpin’ off plants and making a clean sneak of it, but I plan on finding him and sending him to the cooler, capiche? Cuz when Detective Gallo is on the case, even the toughest bruno would rather breeze off than get a pair of bracelets slapped on him by me.” Honestly, I was planning on opening up with a ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ joke but as a huge fan of the noir genre, finally having an opportunity to put my extensive period-era slang to use was FAR too tempting to pass up. But, I guess you’re here about the game and not just to hear me nerd out!
Alrighty, here we go. Detective Gallo is a point & click adventure game featuring a miserable rooster detective named Gallo and his stoic, silent partner Thorn: a small cactus he carries around in his trench coat. The game is heavily influenced by the noir genre, with a heavy dose of offbeat humor thrown in. I say offbeat because while the whole idea and setting of the game is ridiculous, there are actually very few parts that made me laugh out loud. It isn’t ha-ha funny, just funny. Some of the dialogue jokes feel forced and often fall flat, despite the entertaining voice-over cast. That being said, it has its moments. Gallo is called into action when a high society-type guy (Chicken? Duck?) appears in his office to beg for his help. His lovely plants have been murdered and he wants Gallo to find the monster responsible. He ain’t no damsel in distress, but after offering a generous cash advance Gallo decides to take on his case. This is the kind of craziness you can expect to get into if you should find yourself interested in the game. From the goofy beginning to the funny plot-twist of an ending, the narrative should leave you at least mildly amused.
What immediately catches my attention is the vibrant visual style that feels very easy on the eyes. This is due to a combination of a warm color palette and hand-illustrated, hand-animated graphics. Now, if there is one thing I absolutely love, it’s a game with hand-drawn graphics. Call me biased, but I’d take that over 4k 3D graphics any day. It lends such a personal, timeless touch to a title that 3D doesn’t come close to. In addition, the eccentric characters really add to the overall cartoonish feel. A good example is the constant back and forth between Gallo and his sweetshop-running neighbor, Candy Bop. She is madly in love with him and is constantly trying to ply him with sweets. Gallo always rebuffs her advances with his caustic wit but deep down, you know he probably likes her back. This often leads to a bunch of silly exchanges whenever he goes to speak to her during the course of the game. The voice acting is good in most cases, Gallo has the right tone and cadence of any proper surly film-noir P.I. so issues there, really. As is appropriate for the noir genre, Detective Gallo features a jazzy soundtrack so expect the usual; saxophones; jazz flutes; finger snaps; and I’m pretty sure I even heard a cello in there at one point! All in all, I’d say the sound design is on point.
The gameplay lines up with the more classic type of point & click adventure games, so be prepared for plenty of puzzles and lots of legwork. Because of its cartoonish nature, some of the solutions can be really out there. It doesn’t help the fact that sometimes you’ll pick up items and not have a use for them until much later on in your adventure. To compound the problem further, certain actions can only be taken once specific requirements have been surpassed. One example of this was getting a man to throw an item at the chandelier in a bar, thus knocking it down on top of a mouse so you could catch it. I had the item in my inventory the whole time but he wouldn’t accept it, leading me to believe that I was missing something when in fact I just had to get to a certain point in the story. I thought this was weird, as I mentioned before I was able to get an item early on that had no use until I was near the end of the game. There is also a lot of backtracking involved, especially when you don’t know what to do next. There isn’t much of a hint system in place, either. You can call your informant and sometimes he has useful info for you, but I’m not sure that qualifies as one.
For my final verdict, let me frame it as the grumpy Detective Gallo would: “ Rule#753 of Detective Gallo: If you are a fan of classic point & click games, then you will feel right at home with this game!” Detective Gallo is a great title with a lot going on for it, but if you aren’t a fan of the genre or you just hate puzzles in general, then this game isn’t going to change your perspective.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 8/10
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