Duck Detective: The Secret Salami Review – A Spec-Quack-Ular Mystery

Stinging from his recent divorce and struggling to break his crippling bread addiction, the Duck Detective looks for his next big case to solve. Fortunately, he finds it in the chaotic office of a local transportation company. A mysterious individual calling themselves “the Salami Bandit” has been stealing lunches, ruining birthday parties, and more! With everyone in the office distrusting each other and the situation spiraling further and further out of control, can the Duck Detective “quack” the case in time?

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami, a mystery title from Happy Broccoli Games, seems on the surface to be a silly and light-hearted game. And in many ways it is that – the personalities of the suspects are hilariously over the top, the duck puns are everywhere, and the unexpected “fun facts” on the loading screens got a laugh out of me more than once. But it’s also a well-written, competent mystery game that fans of The Case of the Golden Idol and other genre standouts will definitely enjoy. With its two to three hour length and focus on a single case with a limited suspect and evidence pool, it’s a perfect introduction for mystery game newbies, but longtime fans of crime-solving games will also love putting their de-DUCK-tive reasoning skills to the test.

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The first case to solve is the Duck Detective’s missing rent money.

Gameplay is highly reminiscent of the aforementioned The Case of the Golden Idol. You use every resource and piece of information at your disposal – witness testimony, documents scattered around the office, maps, the contents of employees’ personal computers, and more – to solve the greater mystery step by step. It starts simple – figuring out who is who and who hired you in the first place – and progresses to a reveal multiple co-existing plots, secret lovers, and, ultimately, the identity of the fiendish Salami Bandit. The game does a great job of keeping all of your evidence organized and leading you organically through the game’s many mysteries, which is necessary as Duck Detective is presented as a single two to three hour story rather than multiple individual cases.

One thing I really love about Duck Detective is its hint system. Hint systems are hard to do in mystery games, as it can be really hard to strike a balance between being too obscure and simply handing players the answer. However, Duck Detective does this well by letting you take a peek into the titular detective’s thoughts on any of several relevant subjects. He will muse something like “Maybe I should talk to this person again…” or “Did I investigate that room closely enough?” but won’t just give you the answer, and will still leave you to ultimately figure things out for yourself. I very much appreciated that, as I never felt force-fed answers or led by the hand as mysteries can sometimes do.

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I want to go to Hollandaise…think I’ll pass on Escargot, though.

The game’s cast of characters is small but memorable, each with their own unique quirks. The Duck Detective himself is an absolute blast to play as – he’s competent and clearly extremely good at what he does, but prone to get distracted with thoughts of his recent divorce or his ever-present desire for more bread. He’s prone to mentally chime in with his off-the-wall opinions and thoughts about the characters he meets or the evidence he finds, which keeps the humorous tone going even during the game’s tensest moments. I particularly loved when the Detective had to cope with meeting a huge fan of his and simply had no idea how to deal with it. Said character expresses interest in becoming the Detective’s sidekick, and while he wasn’t exactly hyped about the idea, can I say I’d LOVE to see that particular less-than-dynamic duo team up in a sequel?

Another character who quickly became a favorite for me was Laura, the over-stressed, over-worked employee who sometimes seemed to be the only person keeping the company running. She was so relatable – I definitely saw a lot of myself in Laura’s “constantly one workplace fiasco away from a mental breakdown” tense attitude. I could really just go on and list every character – from the gruff boss to the emotional receptionist, they were all great!

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What could the Duck Detective have missed?

One thing that really makes the characters so memorable is that Duck Detective is fully voice acted, featuring the talents of Sean Chiplock as the titular detective and many other actors bringing the suspects and witnesses to life. Chiplock in particular does an amazing job, giving the Duck Detective a hard-boiled voice completely at odds with his cutesy appearance, making the character a study in hilarious contradictions. I do not think I will ever get the way Chiplock says “spongy LOAF!” when rhapsodizing about bread out of my head.

Any complaints I have with Duck Detective are extremely minor. One area where I occasionally felt a bit of frustration was the mechanic where you run a magnifying glass over the witness’ bodies to find clues about their identity and personality. Some of these clues can be very small and hard to find, and, while the glass does indicate when you get close to one, the range isn’t very large, meaning you sometimes have to go over each suspect with a fine-toothed comb. This is particularly frustrating because when investigating the crime scenes and other rooms in the office, points of interest are clearly marked so that the game doesn’t turn into a fruitless pixel hunt. I think the range of “magnifying glass reacts when you get close to a clue” could be increased ever so slightly to make witness-investigating a bit less tedious, but that’s really the only change I’d suggest.

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Laura silently freaking out in the background of various shots is my favorite thing.

Other than that, all I can say is: I want more! I’d love to see the Duck Detective take on more cases in future games. I feel like Happy Broccoli has an amazing grasp on what makes a good mystery, both writing and gameplay wise, and their blend of humor and serious crime drama is a really effective one. Whether it’s a DLC case or a sequel or an entire series, I am here for WHATEVER the Duck Detective has next up his sleeve…er, or would that be wing? Like the Duck Detective craves that “spongy LOAF,” I crave more Duck Detective! And I would encourage all mystery game fans to give this game a try – it’s a refreshingly hilarious and compact whodunnit perfect for newbies and veterans alike.

Kate played Duck Detective: The Secret Salami on Nintendo Switch with a review code.

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