Duck Detective The Secret Salami Review
Image: Happy Broccoli Games

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami review – Stumbling to success

A detective's work is never done.

The premise of Duck Detective: The Secret Salami grabbed me immediately, as I enjoy puzzle-solving and detective work in video games. But in the end, I felt a little let down by how much I stumbled along the way while attempting to put together clues that didn’t make as much sense as they should have.

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While I don’t want a game to hold my hand along the entire way, which Duck Detective provides as an option in its Story Mode setting, I was surprised by how often I felt lost and inclined to look for help anywhere I could get. There’s a lot to like about Duck Detective, but I didn’t have the experience I was hoping for.

All Correct Deducktions In Duck Detective
Screenshot: PC Invasion

Putting the pieces together

Nothing makes me happier than when I get that eureka moment in a puzzle game. That moment when the puzzle snaps into place in my head and it suddenly all makes sense. That didn’t happen as often as would have liked in Duck Detective, an adorable game about a crime-solving duck who is tasked with unveiling the identity of the dastardly Salami Bandit, along with several side mysteries. Gameplay consisted of gathering clues by analyzing objects and suspects, watching the clues turn into simplified words, then using those words in a fill-in-the-blank puzzle to solve a deduction. It feels like a simplified version of the puzzle mechanic from 2022’s The Case of the Golden Idol.

While this sort of game entices me, Duck Detective is occasionally overly simplified to the point where I hit immediate roadblocks. It’s hard to explain, but with most deducktions in which I had all the words ready to place into the blanks, I typically felt lost on where to place them. There were a few interesting deducktions that I solved on my own by analyzing the clues and speaking to suspects with colorful personalities, but the words were so simple that I often felt swayed in the wrong direction, as the words were so general they could be applied to anyone and anything.

I felt better equipped to figure things out by analyzing the clues in my notebook by the images alone than through the words used for deducktions, which I felt were supposed to make me better understand the clues. In the end, I reverted to Story Mode more than I wanted, which allowed me to see which words were in the correct positions. Depending on how other gamers felt about figuring out deducktions in Duck Detective, I could either be completely alone in my experience and just couldn’t put the clues together, or this could be a common occurrence.

It’s tough to grade puzzles based on how tough they are since they’re such a personal thing to experience. There are probably plenty of incredible puzzle games that have a minority of gamers who are stuck and lost most of the time, yet the majority of players can figure it out. I’m not sure where I land in this situation with Duck Detective, but from my personal experience I just constantly felt like the clues weren’t leading me in the right direction.

Duck Detective The Secret Salami Review Margaret
Screenshot: PC Invasion

A colorful cast

One aspect of Duck Detective that I appreciated was the colorful cast of characters you get to meet. Each character is voiced by entertaining voice actors, all with their own unique personalities and quirks. Suspects could be analyzed for clues, you could hand them clues and ask them what they thought to get more clues, and you could simply talk to them. Although I know this is a short game that isn’t meant to be overly complicated, I often felt like I had more questions to ask these suspects than I was allowed to ask.

I can’t really fault the developers for not including the ability to ask certain questions that could give away clues too easily, but there were times when the suspects didn’t give me the answers I wanted. Sometimes the game would lead me in a direction that made me feel like I should question a suspect about something important, but then I either couldn’t ask them about it or I didn’t get a straight answer. Sure, detective work is about reading between the lines, but that was difficult when I was having a tough time remembering everyone’s relationship with one another or when I simply didn’t know what to do with the answers given to me.

The characters truly make you feel like anyone could be the suspect, so I was never sure who was innocent and who wasn’t. I wouldn’t say there’s anything wrong with the characters themselves in Duck Detective, it just felt like they were a little too withholding. Perhaps I’m alone in this thinking, but from my experience, I just wish I could ask the characters more questions while also being able to track in my detective’s notebook the relationships these characters had with each other. Often I would learn something important about how one person feels about another, yet that information wasn’t written down for me. I guess next time I should bring out my trusty paper and pencil…

Duck Detective The Secret Salami Review Manfred
Screenshot: PC Invasion

Witty pop-up book aesthetics

Another aspect that I appreciate from Duck Detective: The Secret Salami is the witty dialogue and the unique art direction. Combining the talented voice cast with the silly words that came from some of these characters’ mouths made for an entertaining experience. You don’t expect this cute duck with a fedora to have such a deep voice, but it contrasts well with the semi-serious storyline that runs through this game. There isn’t a murderer on the loose, it’s simply a Salami Bandit who stole someone’s lunch. Yet the crimes run a lot deeper than you think.

I enjoyed that on the surface it was a silly premise, but the more deducktions I put together the more I realized just how wild some of these characters are. Nobody is exactly who they are on the surface, and by the end of the game, you’re left with some tough decisions. I didn’t expect some elements of choice in Duck Detective, but the fact that I felt like my decisions mattered was a cool element to slip in.

I also adored the pop-up book aesthetic of the characters. Everyone is a 2D character in a 3D world, and they look like they were just drawn on a piece of paper, cut out, and placed in this 3D space. This style choice is definitely something to appreciate, as it makes the characters stand out more.

Duck Detective The Secret Salami Review Clues
Screenshot: PC Invasion

Missing puzzle pieces

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami wasn’t a perfect experience, as I often felt lost and compelled to switch on Story Mode when the pieces of the puzzle wouldn’t fit together. Only occasionally did I feel that eureka moment after solving deducktions, but the game was still entertaining with its witty characters and adorable art style. The story also was deeper than I imagined it would be, and the more I played it, the more I began to appreciate the unraveling of the very cute and silly mystery itself while forgetting about the frustrations I had while trying to solve puzzles.

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami
While Duck Detective: The Secret Salami has an incredible voice cast, colorful characters, and an intriguing plot, I was let down by the puzzles and gameplay. There were a few puzzles that I solved on my own with no issue, but many puzzles had clues that left me in the dark instead of guiding me.

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Anyka Pettigrew
Anyka Pettigrew has been a Staff Writer for PC Invasion since November 2023 and a Contributing Writer since February 2023. She is a Canadian graduate of a Bachelor of Arts degree who has been writing in games journalism for four years. Anyka is an avid guides writer but also enjoys writing anything from news pieces, to reviews, and even opinion pieces. Having a never-ending passion for video games for as long as she can remember got her into a plethora of genres like action adventure, RPGs, horror, survival etc. Some of her favorite franchises are God of War, Persona, The Last of Us, Zelda, and Resident Evil. She also enjoys reading fantasy and sci-fi books, as well as drawing digital art. Anyka also regularly listens to podcasts on gaming news from 'Kinda Funny Games', and 'Play, Watch, Listen'.