When it comes to point and click adventure games, their success or failure often comes down to a single aspect - story. The frame of the genre has been solidified for quite a while, and the great games, like the Monkey Island franchise, tell an intriguing tale worth exploring. Detective Gallo is as pure a point and click adventure game as I’ve ever played, going so far as to having a literal pointer on the screen despite being on console. So, how does the story hold up, or is it just a scrambled mess?
Detective Gallo starts off feeling unique, thanks to its strong art direction. The look is almost comic-like with hand-drawn character models and backgrounds. The game really stands out with its brilliant color scheme. Exuding a film noir-style, the dark and gritty setting is accented by warm colors, with muted and cooler shades occasionally popping up to provide a strong contrast. Everything about the look of this game is on point.
Another thing Detective Gallo does well is highlighted objects. Being a point and click adventure, intractable objects are the life force of gameplay. Thankfully, the vast majority of items that can be picked up are discernible at a simple glance. For those that aren’t, there’s a feature called Gallo Sense to show further areas of interactivity. This feature takes some of the guesswork out, which is extremely important in a game where much is about trial and error.
Playing the guessing game is a huge theme in point and click adventures, and Detective Gallo is no stranger to that. It's also difficult to adequately rate. On one hand, it’s a key staple of what the game is going for with its necessary logical puzzles. More complicated actions are integral to the gameplay, though, to expand the game's length and create challenge. The downside, however, is that the thought process behind some of the needed actions is downright insane. The amount of blind guessing can become frustrating.
One example of this is an early task which sees needing to get a membership card. This simple task is to mail a photo of yourself. However, to acquire the pieces of the letter, and then prepping it to mail is a lot more drawn-out than it should be. It's an arduous process of building and combining items, and searching for interactive pieces of the environment that gets highly frustrating the longer it goes on.
The map plays a big part in the gameplay. While kept minimalistic and slowly opening up in a fairly organic sense, movement around it can be dreadful. Despite having a controller to play with, the titular detective walks only by you moving the cursor and selecting where you want him to travel to. In smaller screens, it's a minor issue, as you can just select a piece of scenery for him to move to. The screens that scroll, though, have you clicking around, and waiting for Gallo to move slowly over. A relatively small game world means that there’s a lot of backtracking to do, and combined with random guessing item uses and arduous exploration, you’ll quickly get flustered.
Now we finally reach the most important part of the game - the story. Here, Detective Gallo comes into its own. Starring the chicken detective Gallo, he’s tasked by Phil Cloro, a millionaire plant lover, to find out who killed his beloved plants. What starts from here is a multi-part murder plot involving vegetation and some real fowl play. It’s impossible to explain more on the actual details, as twists and turns the plot takes is one of the greatest pleasures in the game.
What makes the journey even greater are the characters. Starting with the lead, Gallo is a fantastic hero. A stereotypical hard-nosed detective, he’s quite humorless and stiff. However, there’s a joy in playing as such a flawed character, as he has to bypass his lack of charisma in intelligent ways. Equally enjoyable is the cast around him. From the candy shop owner Candy Bop, who is smitten with the cynically pessimistic Gallo, to the greedy Wholesaler, everyone's personality stands out. The voice acting accentuates the dialog to create a fantastic ensemble.
As great as the story and characters are, the game's execution leaves room for improvement. Each plot point is given only a vague description, while the path to their solutions are long and arduous. What would have really helped at times is if Gallo had updated his journal to add information about what is needed to complete each task. Providing easy-to-access hints on what to do would be out of character for Detective Gallo, but the lack of information can really slow down the pace of the game.
When all is said and done, Detective Gallo’s biggest flaw is that it is a standalone game. The story wraps up neatly and satisfactorily, but I find myself wanting to explore the world further. Some characters, locations and events feel underdeveloped and lacking in lore. The undercover spy storyline is one such example of a character who felt underutilized, while events in the sewers are crying out for more context to feel more organic to the overall plot.
Despite all my gripes with the game, I still can recommend Detective Gallo. It really starts to take flight as it goes on, and it has a greatly paced plot. The hard-boiled detective Gallo was a lot of fun to play as, and the surrounding cast and environments all blended well together. The typical difficulty of the genre does rear its head at times, but fairly linear progression makes it manageable. Detective Gallo is definitely a game that you’ll want in your lib-rooster-y.