You’re a detective, and a frog, and it’s time to solve a mystery. Play as the freshest frog in the pond and find the secret of The Haunted Island. Using your extreme investigation skills, question suspects and find clues to get to the bottom of this spooky and mysterious mystery.
Time Played: 42 minutes
Recommended For: Frogs, Detectives, and everything inbetween
Frog? Detective? FROG DETECTIVE? Haunted Island? What kinda Scooby Doo s**t is this?! I’m kidding. Real talk, this game is… Incredible! A true work of art among video games. Of course, when I first picked it up I wasn’t sure. It’d popped up on my Twitter feed once or twice, and if you know me you know I love a good detective game so I couldn’t resist giving it a cheeky go. On loading up the game, the first page throws back some very unconventional graphics settings. From there in, I knew I was in for a treat.
The Frog Detective series is a labour of love by video game duo Grace Bruxner and Thomas Bowker, with an original soundtrack by Dan Golding. It launched back in 2018 and my only regret is not picking up a copy sooner.
In this first person detective game, you play the titular character, Frog Detective and are pulled into a mysterious, yet oddly intriguing mystery on a tropical island, way out in the middle of the ocean. You see, the owner of the island, Martin (a sloth wearing a solid gold crown) is convinced it is haunted. He’s been hearing mysterious ghostly noises for about two weeks now and is terrified. It’s really putting him off his dance training for the big competition this weekend. Yeah, that’s the plot. Bear with me on this one.
This sets the scene for your arrival on the island where you’re greeted by a motley crew of “ghost scientists”. You’ll quickly come to realise none of these scientists are qualified, but that’s part of the charm of this game, really.
From herein Frog Detective is less about solving the mystery and more about exploring your environment and talking to as many anthropomorphic animals on the island as possible. Wait, does that mean the game is really about making friends? Sure! I mean, you do also have a magnifying glass and you can look at evidence (or just bugs really), very close up. But really you’re just there to help the plot reach it’s unusual, yet logical conclusion: to compete in a dance competition.
The main thing that drives the game is narrative. Each character you can interact with is quirky and bordering on the ridiculous – there’s a nervous, stammering mouse, a koala bobbing about in the ocean, a dental hygiene obsessed crocodile, and Bernie the bear who is convinced you’re a secret agent- oh, and he loves pasta. It’s important to the plot. No really, it is.
Each character has a jittery, nervous energy. It must be all the ghosts. But, like a true sleuth, Frog Detective picks up on the suspicious behaviour and gently nudges you towards a wholesome interrogation to find out what’s really going on.
What I love most about the game though is it’s absolute unashamed absurdity. There’s a detective noire vibe (and soundtrack!) that butts heads with the bright colours and smiling faces of the characters in the tropical paradise. The characters speak frankly and really your only goal in the game is to run errands between them, finding (and trading for) items in order to get what you want to progress.
The puzzles aren’t really the point … *pause* … So why am I even writing about this game on this escape room blog? Because it’s still a mystery. Just how in many escape rooms I’ve had to do really ‘outside the box’ things to solve a room, in Frog Detective you have to err… Be a frog, walk around, and compete in dance competitions. There’s no right or wrong way to solve a mystery. I don’t discriminate against frog related experiences.
Overall, there’s not much more that can be said about Frog Detective. Frog Detective is something you have to experience for yourself and either you’ll ‘get it’ or you won’t. I don’t know if I’d recommend this to do the ‘hardcore-escape-room’ group of enthusiasts, no. Instead, you have to go into this with a sense of whimsy and not expect any complex puzzles. Frog Detective never once claims to be anything other than it is: A detective story about a frog.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and writes about news, and reviews covering London and UK south.