Frog Detective: The Entire Mystery contains all three of the Frog Detective games, which have gained somewhat of a cult following on PC. Now they are released onto consoles, we grabbed our trusty magnifying glass and had a play to find out if the hype is deserved.
The Haunted Island is Frog Detective’s first case and sees you head out to an island ruled by a sloth. He’s losing sleep because of the strange noises emanating from a cave – could the island be haunted? As Frog Detective, your job is to find out by interviewing the group of animals on the island, including the ghost scientists who aren’t exactly doing a great job finding the ghost.
The game is extremely easy – the island is tiny, you only get a couple of choices of questions for each animal and it is very obvious what you need to do. It’s a case of finding out what one animal wants, getting this from another animal and collecting your reward that will help you to solve the case.
The blocky graphics are very simple, but the movement of the characters, especially when dancing, is surprisingly realistic and looks almost motion captured. And there is plenty of dancing to take in too, with the final scene being a dance competition that you have to judge.
There is lounge-style jazz music playing in the background that does get a bit repetitive and a magnifying glass doesn’t seem to do anything other than make whatever’s inside it look all weird. We thought, naively, that it might actually be helpful in finding clues.
However, Frog Detective’s first case is entertaining and we wanted to complete all thirty minutes of it because the dialogue is genuinely funny. Frog Detective is deliciously self-deprecating (he is only the 2nd best detective in the agency after all) and the other characters are full of… well… character, even though they only have a few lines of dialogue each. You can see that designer Grace Bruxner spent a lot of time on the script and it was time well spent, even though the game only took six months to make in their final year at university.
Case one solved – onto the next. Is it a more elaborate affair?
In case two Frog Detective heads to Warlock Woods to solve the Case of the Invisible Wizard. But, before you head out you get given a new investigating tool – a notebook whose cover you get to decorate with stickers. Now that is something we can really get on board with.
Warlock Woods is a spooky kind of town that is in permanent darkness. A celebratory parade for its newest resident – an invisible wizard – has been ruined, but by who? You have to interview the town’s residents to find out a possible motive and the item they need. It’s just that this time you get to write your notes into your new notebook, where you can also record the items you have in your inventory. The questioning of each town resident takes slightly longer than that of the first case, meaning case two takes a little more time to get through. It is, however, just as amusing.
The third and final Frog Detective case sees our friendly frog travelling to Cowboy County where he gets some cool cowboy boots to go with his ever stylish ensemble. However, he doesn’t get a cowboy hat as he has a weird shaped head. Further to that, you get a sick scooter to… like… scoot around on. We must admit we spent waaay too much time scooting around the desert a la Tony Hawk ish. Talking of which, The Entire Mystery features a new console-exclusive scooter mini game which is based, not too loosely, on our favourite skating game as Frog Detective goes ollying and grinding at a skate park, all to some punk rock music.
Back to Cowboy County and this time you’re joined by Lobster Cop, the number 1 detective in the agency, as you solve the mystery of the missing hats. There is a little more story to unravel in this instalment and a bigger area to explore, but the gameplay is the same – you’ll have to interview the townsfolk as per normal to get to the bottom of the case. This case/game is the longest and most complex of the three and has a twist at the end which certainly took us by surprise.
Frog Detective: The Entire Mystery is an entertaining way to spend three or four hours. The cases are sublimely ridiculous, the characters surprisingly well-rounded, despite having so little dialogue, and the gameplay is extremely simple. There is never going to be a point where you don’t know exactly what to do next, and we could have done with a little more challenge being thrown Frog Detective’s way, if only so it meant we could have got to spend longer in this weird and wonderful world.