Reviewed on PC
The Haunted Island, A Frog Detective Game is a short and cute indie game developed by Grace Bruxner and Thomas Bowker where, much like the title suggests, you play as an anthropomorphic amphibious detective who’s been tasked with investigating the spooky shenanigans going down on a haunted island. From the second I saw the lyric of Flo Rida and T-Pain’s Low to describe the game’s graphical options, I knew this game was going to be for more. It’s the first sign of the game’s strongest point; The Haunted Island is filled with a bevy of similar minute details that are designed to make you laugh out loud. It’s a silly but fun adventure that’s packed to the brim with character.
It plays similarly to other detective games, especially those of the nineties. Everything that takes place is carried throughout an ongoing fetch quest. You’ll spend most of your time talking to people and looking at random objects with your trusty magnifying glass. The latter doesn’t actually appear to have any noticeable effect other than making things look kind of blurry close up but having it on hand somehow makes you feel like a true bona fide detective.
Clues are given to you by the island’s residents who consist of several ghost scientists (a very real and respected profession) and the island’s self-proclaimed ruler: an incredibly nervous sloth. Each character has their own distinct personality and, while they’re not exactly the most helpful of witnesses, they all help in their own special way… sort of. The deadpan humour is excellent in its delivery and no jokes fall flat. At one point, the game takes a brief foray into the actual real-life applications of books, a tangent that made me both snort-chuckle out loud and question my stance on whether books are, at the end of the day, actually good or not.
It’s important to note that while The Haunted Island, A Frog Detective Game is incredibly fun, it’s also quite short. It took me approximately 40 minutes to clear the game from start to finish and unlock all the achievements. If you’re a fast reader with a half decent memory, you could easily finish the game in under 30 minutes, even though that would ruin the pace of the game. Remember, it’s not about the destination: it’s about the journey and the terrible jokes that get you there.
The graphics are charming and well rendered, although some of the character models start to get vaguely disturbing seeing as nobody ever blinks. There’s something incredibly jarring about approaching a person to ask them a question and being greeted with a thousand-yard stare. Aside from the apparent trauma the island’s residents went through prior to the frog detective’s arrival, everything else is visually fine, although performance did sometimes suffer from rapid camera movements despite being played on a rather beefy PC.
Frog Detective’s soundtrack (provided by Dan Golding) is well composed, strangely suave, and perfectly suited to the relaxing structure of the game. The crashing waves of the beach environment are enjoyable tenfold thanks to the accompaniment of a soft jazz which complements the totally-serious-detective tone of the game throughout. It’s always enjoyable, never repetitive or grating, but then it never really gets a chance to be.
That’s the one negative that could bring Frog Detective down – it’s so more-some. It’s not bad that it’s short, it’s just that I genuinely didn’t want the adventure to end. The narrative was great (albeit a tad[pole] on the predictable side), the jokes were well delivered, and the characters were certainly unique. I just wish there was more of it.
If you’re looking for a serious detective game with serious detective themes and serious detective point-and-click mechanics, you’re looking in the wrong place. However, if you’re here to have a good time and enjoy some paranormal activities with a whole host of new and hilarious friends, you’re in luck. Obviously, I’m not saying that this game is 100/100 must-buy-and-tell-everyone-about-it, but I’m also very strongly implying that.