One of the more interesting games I played at PAX West was Chicken Police: Into the Hive, a zany visual novel where anthropomorphic animals solve a mystery. It's an intriguing concept that blends humor and a serious tone into one story.
The first thing that struck me was the visuals. Each character has an animal's head and a human's body. For example, the main protagonist, Sonny Featherland, is a rooster. I chatted with development team members about how beautiful the game looks and how lifelike the animals appear. They explained that the team visited zoos to capture images of various animals, and various team members portrayed the human body of each character. Afterwards, they cleaned up the images in Photoshop and brought them to life in the game. The character designs and backgrounds look fantastic, and the game is grayscale, giving it a film noir feel (however, you can change to full color at any point).
Another feature that stood out for me was the voice acting. Each character was well-acted, from the acting aspect to the different accents, adding to the film noir look and feel. The acting brought the characters to life, and while I was expecting a silly game (mainly because of the game's title), I walked away with a sense of real-world building and was impressed with what the demo offered.
That said, while the voice acting was fantastic and the music selected fit the scene, the mixing of the audio levels was off. At times, the music was too loud, and I couldn't hear what the characters were saying. I looked to see if I could fix this issue in the settings, but in the demo I played, I didn't have access to any settings. Hopefully, when the full game is released, this can be adjusted.
I liked the game's premise, and the story was interesting, but some of the puzzles you needed to solve had solutions that weren’t always apparent. One time in particular, I needed to talk to a character who had an issue with me and then talk to a different character. Then, when this sequence of events was completed, it would open a new dialogue option with the same person who took issue with me. That is just one example, but there were a few times when it wasn’t apparent what the game wanted me to do in order to progress in the story. It seemed apparent that the team knew this could be an issue, as hints were taped next to the game.
Overall, I thought Chicken Police: Into the Hive was an interesting game. The story is well-written, and the acting is great. I will give the demo a pass with the audio issue, as I suspect that can be rectified in the game's final version. Some of the puzzles were a bit difficult to figure out, not because they were challenging but because the sequence order of what needed to be done wasn't apparent. With that said, I am still looking forward to when the game releases.