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Detective Gallo

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Adventure Productions
Developer: Footprints Games
Release Date: Aug. 17, 2018


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Switch Review - 'Detective Gallo'

by Cody Medellin on Dec. 28, 2018 @ 4:30 a.m. PST

Let the investigations of the most feathered detective begin in Detective Gallo, a point & click comic-noir adventure that is entirely hand-illustrated and hand-animated.

The Nintendo Switch has a wealth of good point-and-click adventure games that made names for themselves on the PC. Classics like Syberia, modern greats like Thimbleweed Park, and impressive indies like Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today have all made the Switch a natural home for the genre thanks to the system's use of traditional controls and a touchscreen to simulate a mouse cursor. Detective Gallo is another game in this genre that has made its way to the Switch just a few months after debuting on the PC.

You play the role of private detective Gallo, a typical hardboiled noir detective who only had two friends in life: one who passed away recently and a cactus named Thorn. After getting thrown out of a bar, Gallo returns to his office, where he finds an extremely nervous man who constantly bursts into tears. It turns out the man is looking for Gallo's help in finding the one responsible for killing his friends: numerous houseplants. With a sizeable cash advance and a desire to uphold justice, Gallo takes the case.

More than any other genre, point-and-click adventures live and die by their narratives. In this case, the story suffers from having an entire cast comprised of one-note characters. No one evolves as the story goes on, so if you find someone unlikeable, then you're out of luck. However, this is fairly forgivable since the story is so humorous. The situation is rather absurd, and the jokes are part of some ridiculous dialogue that's delivered a straight face and tone. It isn't quite at the level of something like Thimbleweed Park in this department, but it makes an earnest effort.

The game plays out just like every other point-and-click adventure title, so you'll click on objects to hear witty descriptions about them or see if they can be useful. The useful objects can be picked up most of the time, and you'll be expected to find the right use for those objects on specific things in the world in order to complete tasks. There's also a decent amount of conversation you can have with many of the characters, and while choices don't significantly alter the outcome of the story, they help you get more clues about the case or unlock tasks to help you get those clues. One of the traits the genre is known for are the puzzles, which can sometimes have absurd solutions from long questlines. This game is similar when it comes to the length of the quests, with some of them taking a good chunk of time before they're resolved. With that said, the solutions make sense but are slightly silly, so try not to overthink things.

The puzzles can tax your brain from time to time, but you don't have to fight the controls. Using a controller, your left stick controls the mouse cursor, and it does so at a decent speed without feeling too slow or too sensitive. The A button acts as a general action button, whether it's for picking up things, activating something, or combining it; the B button is a general look button, and it's essential for some of the dialogue gags. Meanwhile, ZR activates your Gallo Sense, which is essentially a button that highlights anything interactive in the environment. It all works well and is simple for anyone to grasp. Touch-screen controls are also supported, and they work well enough for some tasks, but you might just find yourself switching between both if you want something more ideal in portable mode. The only thing missing here are pointer controls, but ultimately, its exclusion isn't a huge deal.

Unless you're using a walkthrough, the game clocks in at a decent length of about six hours or so. That works well enough for this adventure because lingering any longer could thin out the humor. The adventure may feel longer than that because there are few environments to visit. In total, there are only nine places to visit, but the quests call for you to shuttle between those environments far too often. The limited environment count means that you won't get lost, but those who are more experienced in the genre will wish that the overall world was just a little bigger.

The presentation is reminiscent of a mix between late LucasArts adventure titles and some of the output of Daedalic Entertainment, particularly the Deponia series. The cartoon look means that colors are bright, with thick outlines to define the characters and important items. The backdrops sport the same bright colors, but their outrageous shapes make for a sometimes surreal scene, especially with some of the environments looking like they were shot with a fisheye lens. The animation is very limited, with only a few frames dedicated to any action, and walking looks more like gliding.

On the audio side, the music fits the classic noir style well, while the effects are good enough, but they're so few and far between that you can easily forget about them. The voice work is also fine and matches the characters, but the diction is off. For someone trying to impersonate a hard-boiled detective, for example, there's words are too well enunciated and there's a distinct lack of contractions, so it doesn't feel authentic.

In the end, Detective Gallo is a fun adventure game for those starting to get their feet wet in the genre. The environments are limited, but that also takes away the frustration of getting lost. The puzzles can be a little obtuse but not to the point of being nonsensical. The constant backtracking can be annoying at times, but that's all mitigated by the previously mentioned elements. It is a funny game, though, and humor always serves as a good gateway for those wanting to get into a new genre. It isn't the best the genre can offer, but it's good enough for those who aren't already entrenched in the genre's more difficult offerings.

Score: 7.5/10

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