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Duck Detective The Secret Salami review - a bite-sized detective game

Take on the mantle of the Duck Detective and delve into the mystery of The Secret Salami - a case so tough, only you can quack it.

Duck Detective review: a duck wearing a trenchcoat and a fedora hat, holding a notebook.

Our Verdict

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami is a short but very sweet adventure that works your brain and warms your soul.

It’s easy to hit the loaf when times are hard, and going from the detective game‘s opening scene, we’ve stumbled into the Duck Detective’s office on a particularly bad morning. Duck Detective: The Secret Salami is an isometric mystery narrative game that puts you in the trenchcoat of a hard-boiled, gumshoe-type named Eugene McQuacklin. He eats criminals for breakfast (not literally) and is also a duck (literally). You’ll explore various locations, looking for clues, cross-examining the locals, and, with any luck, cracking the case.

Waking up from a dough-induced stupor, broke, and alone after a recent divorce, the Duck Detective receives a mysterious phone call. He hopes for much grander mysteries in the future, but this one will do for now; his wastepaper basket is spilling over with past-due notices and he could do with the money. The BearBus depot is his destination, but the rest is shrouded in questions: who is his client? What is the crime? Will they be able to smell bread on his breath?

Duck Detective: a page of a journal, stating that a detective has spent the last of their money on bread.

Solving these crimes takes the form of completing de-duck-tions (their phrase, not mine, sadly), which are Mad Libs-type journal pages; half-formed sentences that must be filled by McQuacklin using words and phrases picked up on his search, that, when completed, create a fully formed de-duck-tion.

You collect these word-clues by doing what any good detective does: making a nuisance of themselves. You’ll question anyone in the immediate area, you’ll dig through people’s personal property, and you’ll simply pay attention. When meeting someone new, you’re prompted to look at them in more detail; invading someone’s personal space with a magnifying glass can deliver excellent results but is morally questionable at best.

Duck Detective: a detective runs a magnifying glass over a large giraffe and has come to the conclusion that they are sad.

Examining a person can reveal details that can help McQuacklin in his investigation – things like their name, the bags under their eyes, or the stains on their shirt. Any information is valuable information, and you’ll need to keep your wits about you in the case of the Secret Salami. Everyone in the Duck Detective universe is some form of anthropomorphized animal: the receptionist is a giraffe, one of the office workers is an alligator, and one of the phone operators is an incredibly overworked cat. This may suggest interpersonal conflict, but it never seems to impact their job performance.

Building up a fully formed deduction is satisfying, and nailing the more complex theories requires some real investigation. A clue you spy on someone’s PC in the first few minutes might not come into play until later on, and I felt very pleased with myself slotting together my theories. You can lower the difficulty if you happen to hit a brick wall, which changes the specificity of the hints you get about the incorrect words in your de-duck-tions.

Duck Detective: a duck wearing a trenchcoat and fedora walks around an office.

The BearBus depot is where the entirety of Duck Detective spends its 2-3 hour runtime, and while I wished that Eugene would have a few more places to explore, the offices felt packed out enough to keep the story moving. Despite the semi-ridiculous nature of the Secret Salami, and the fact that you’re a duck who solves crimes, everyone takes everything quite seriously – this melodrama plays perfectly against the game’s lighthearted nature, creating humor in the most mundane of conversations and premises.

Wandering around, knocking over wastepaper baskets and constantly hammering the dedicated quack button (Q, in case you’re interested) was a joy, and I flew through the game in one go, rushing from one deduction to the next to finally pin down what exactly was going on – and who was behind it. Duck Detective: The Secret Salami is short, but what you get is funny, entertaining, and satisfying, and with a ten-dollar price tag, you can’t go wrong.