By Marty Mulrooney
Detective Gallo is a hand-illustrated and hand-animated point-and-click adventure game developed by Footprints Games and published by Adventure Productions. The star of the show is Gallo, a hard-boiled feathered bird detective investigating a string of plant-based murders with his trusty sidekick Thorn the cactus. As Gallo, can you track down the killer and bring them to justice?
From the outset, Detective Gallo is a strange yet charming experience. The film noir style works well, with the opening cutscene presented in black-and-white as Gallo waxes lyrical about life while rain pours and thunder rumbles outside his office window.
Then the game begins proper and the colours rush in. The graphical style of Detective Gallo is bright and colourful, and somewhat reminiscent of a Saturday morning children’s TV show. Yet, while the overall presentation of the game is certainly eye-catching, it can sometimes feel like a browser-based Flash game. The animation is pretty limited, but what little there is gets the job done.
The main plot involves Gallo being hired by a snooty bird named Phil Chloro, who wants to find out who murdered all of his plants. The wackiness of the world is never fully explained – especially the strange relationship between the anthropomorphic birds and their plants – so players will just have to accept and go along with it.
The voice acting of the supporting characters is a bit of a mixed bag – the stuttering of Phil Ghloro can be particularly grating – but thankfully, Gallo himself sounds wonderfully sardonic as he lists his many ‘rules’ throughout the adventure. There isn’t much story to be found, but Gallo’s dour commentary makes pushing forwards worthwhile.
Sadly, while playing Detective Gallo it often feels like something has been lost in translation. Attempts at humour mostly fall flat, the English dialogue is a bit awkward and the puzzles can be quite difficult simply because some of the solutions aren’t signposted clearly enough (if at all). It’s never a good sign when you have to resort to trying every inventory item on every hotspot (or watching a walkthrough on YouTube).
Footprints Games is an Italian development studio, so perhaps in its original language the faults mentioned above are lessened. Regardless, the English language version never truly feels like it has been adapted for the English-speaking market.
If all of the above sounds overly negative, please don’t be put off too much. Fans of point-and-click adventure games will likely enjoy the 5 or 6 hours it takes to complete Detective Gallo. It’s a traditional adventure game that has an undeniable charm, mostly thanks to its memorable lead character, cartoony graphics and catchy soundtrack. The story is utterly bizarre and doesn’t really go anywhere, but the ending is surprisingly funny. As the studio’s first foray into the adventure genre, Footprints Games should be proud of Detective Gallo.
7 OUT OF 10