A Frog with a Licence to Chill
The Haunted Island: A Frog Detective Game is a short game, released recently on Steam. Made by a small team of three developers,this game marries a colourful, childish art style with witty writing to create something unique and endearing. Without spoiling this title, let’s take a closer look into the world of Frog Detective
Perhaps obviously, you are a Frog who is a Detective. Having never failed a case, you are tasked with uncovering the mystery of the Haunted Island. Armed with your trusty magnifying glass, there are lots of cute critters to see, fun characters to talk to and spooky noises to investigate. And Martin is here! What more could you ask from a game?
The most prominent part of the game is the dialogue. It’s like playing a self-aware children’s book, but does not beat you over the head with “crazy” juxtapositions the way Deadpool might. The characters are funny and distinguishable despite how little time we spend with each of them; there is a nervous mouse, a suspicious bear and an inquisitive monkey among others. And all of them can dance, which is important.
Interactions begin with the problem at hand, the mystery,but quickly digress into peculiar musings. Conversations often passes back and forth from necessary exposition to meandering chit-chat. This could grow tiresome if it were not for the quality of the writing and the brevity of the overall experience.
Frog Detective is an entertaining protagonist as he is well-aware of his own limitations. He is not the most adept detective, but what he lacks in investigative skills he makes up for with creativity and enthusiasm. He is a great conversationalist, despite the stress of a senior law enforcement position. Personally, I like him and I want to be his friend. He also writes a brilliant blog, if you are interested in the Frog Detective lore.
The game will not take more than an hour to complete. The innocence of the premise and the relaxing atmosphere allows you to explore the Haunted Island at your leisure. You even have a magnifying glass to look at all the little details hidden in the environment, despite never being required to use it to progress.
There are simple puzzles to solve in order to uncover the mystery. They are not difficult by any means and provide a much-needed sense of progression. The haunted island has lots to see, but having a structure to refer back to is helpful. You need to find items to trade with other characters as well as gain information in order to finish the game. Further details would spoil the story, but rest assured, you will not be stumped at any point.
The game stood out to me as the perfect example of what a small game should be. It knows its genre, it knows its limitations and it tells its story, no more, no less. Is it Game of the Year™? No. Does it break new ground and revolutionise the medium? Not really. But does it have a cute little snake? Yes. Yes it does. One of the best features of the game is that it is open to players of all ages. Parents looking to introduce their children to games could do a lot worse than taking them on an adventure with the Frog Detective.
My only complaint is that I am unable to play this game for the first time again. However, it is possible that the twee, chirpy writing is not to everyone’s taste. There is no drama or danger, everything is quite cheerful and tranquil. So if you are looking for a “hardcore” gaming experience where you need to “git gud,” Frog Detective is not the Dark Souls of point-and-click adventure games. Maybe check out the new Leisure Suit Larry instead if you want to break your keyboard looking for vegan liquorice and old jockstraps
Frogs the verdict? (I’m sorry)
The Haunted Island: A Frog Detective game is here for a good time, not a long time, and that good time involves making animal friends and poking your nose into their business. (Do frogs even have noses…?) The game achieves everything it sets out to do and is visibly a labour of love by the creator Grace Bruxner and her team. It’s a short burst of fun that will not change your life but ought to brighten up your day and I would recommend it to anyone who needs a little pick-me-up. Hopefully we will see the Frog Detective again for a new adventure sometime soon.
Score: 8/10 🐸