Duck Detective: The Secret Salami – Review

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami is a tight, charming detective adventure with wonderful humour.
duck detective the secret salami review

We need more games like Duck Detective: The Secret Salami – tight, light-hearted adventures with a strong sense of personality, infused with good humour, and plenty of charm. In concept and execution, this game is an absolute delight. The dialogue is sharp and funny, its cast of characters is oddball and endearing, and the plot rolls out with aplomb.

While only 2-3 hours in length (depending on how the puzzles stump you), Duck Detective makes the most of its run time, for an impactful, joyous, and occasionally dark adventure filled with quirky little puzzles, and intriguing set pieces.

Of all the games to have inspired Duck Detective, it’s The Case of the Golden Idol that seems most influential to the core gameplay. You, as the titular Duck Detective – divorced, down on his luck, depressed – must enter the office of a travel company, to determine the identity of the “Salami Bandit.” This strange force has been causing chaos and crime, while attempting to frame employees for laundering, and generally ruining the vibe for everyone.

As you pick at puzzle threads, you’ll find a deeper conspiracy waiting, as the Salami Bandit is only the beginning – and there are other dastardly deeds afoot. Using your power of “de-duck-tion” you’ll first interrogate suspects in the case, discovering more details about the Salami Bandit and their crimes (which begin with a stolen sandwich), while also putting faces to names.

duck detective secret salami gameplay
Screenshot: GamesHub

I mention The Case of the Golden Idol, because there’s much familiar in this game’s hunt for names. To determine which character is which, you’ll need to search office boards, mugs, desktops, and other places, as well as speak to other folks peripheral to the main investigation. Each person gives you the thread of a clue, and it’s up to you to pull on that thread, and unravel each secret as they arrive.

Does Freddy Frederson deserve the scrutiny placed upon him? Does the loud office over-worker have secrets hiding up their sleeve? What about the kindly office manager, who gives off mother vibes? They’re all under suspicion, and it’s up to you to determine their guilt.

In this rapidly unfolding tale, there is charm in every facet – from gameplay, to narrative, to artwork. Duck Detective has a Paper Mario aesthetic, in its approach to character models and their waddling movement. Faces are expressive and adorable, and too cute to suspect – making the final criminal reveal all the more dramatic.

Read: The Case of the Golden Idol sequel announced, Rise of the Golden Idol

There’s also a lovely ramping tension in Duck Detective that keeps your investigation running along at speed. You start by investigating the theft of a sandwich and soon, the mystery mothballs, and you’re running after kidnappers and extortionists. All the while, the game maintains its light, breezy sense of fun, buoyed along by funny snippets of dialogue, and the inherent silliness of a tiny Duck Detective in his little coat and fancy hat.

duck detective secret salami
Screenshot: GamesHub

How you approach the game’s many puzzles may differ, but personally, I found plenty of satisfaction in the game’s difficulty. While the opening puzzles have obvious solutions, the rising challenge in your investigation means you’ll eventually face more head-scratchers, and need to deploy more clever thinking.

In some puzzles, you may even be required to make deductions based on logic and gut feeling, rather than firm data. The game will tell you if you’re wrong on a particular puzzle, so you can try multiple solutions before you hit the correct combination.

There were a few puzzles that stumped me at first, but nothing that couldn’t be worked out with some determination and grit – and nothing that wasn’t rewarding along the way. It’s a difficult balance to get right, but Duck Detective manages well. It’s not a particularly difficult game, but it has just the right amount of challenge to spice up its main plot, and keep you guessing at its central mystery.

Again, it’s worth mentioning that Duck Detective: The Secret Salami is a very short game. It’s intentionally cinematic in nature, and tells a very punchy tale over its runtime. But even with its short length, developer Happy Broccoli Games has delivered a worthy experience – a layered detective tale with neat mechanics, wonderful characters, and a buoyant sense of charm.

Four stars: ★★★★

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami
Happy Broccoli Games
Developer: Happy Broccoli Games
Publisher: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Release Date: 23 May 2024

A PC copy of Duck Detective: The Secret Salami was provided by the publisher, and played on an Asus ROG Ally, for the purposes of this review. GamesHub reviews are rated on a five-point scale.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.