The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game (2018)
Updated: Jan 6
Developer: Grace Bruxner
The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game is a short first-person mystery game where you play as, of course, a frog detective. I attended Fantastic Arcade in Austin, Texas in October and had the chance to watch a game demo presentation from the developer, Grace Bruxner. Hearing her talk through the game in person was really fun in it of itself, and playing the game soon after, it was clear that this game is very much an extension of Bruxner's humor and silly personality.
The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game is weird and adorable, it doesn't take itself super seriously. This game only takes about an hour to beat, so it's worth taking your time to find every detail and have every conversation. There's many details to be found on Haunted Island - not all of them are clues, but they do reveal more about the environment and characters you meet. I'm planning to give this game a replay just to see if I missed any of these details. I'd also replay it to relive some of the strange interactions with the characters - and the dancing, of course. This game is all about the dancing. My favorite dance was probably seeing Mouse learn to break dance. He was so serious about the dance, it made me want to support him wholeheartedly. It's worth pointing out that despite the fact that this game has very fairly simple graphics and animation, the dancing animations are on point. I've watched much more graphically realistic games do much more awkward renditions of dancing. You can tell this was important to the game, and it really made it so much more entertaining.
One advantage of attending this workshop at Fantastic Arcade was hearing some of the inspiration behind the Frog Detective character. Bruxner loves mystery shows, including musical intro themes to them, so it makes a lot of sense how she chose to incorporate that into the game. I actually really enjoyed the unusually cinematic opening of the game, it felt like a movie opening, but it also wasn’t overextended to the point where it became boring. It felt relevant and added to the personality of the game. The jazz mystery music was essential and developed a mood for the game. It’s an interesting contrast since the rest of the music in this game was mostly dance music.
As presented in the game, “The Haunted Island” is only the first of the Frog Detective’s adventures that we will be part of. I’m excited to see the next chapter of the Frog Detective’s adventures, I know Bruxner will continue to surprise with her off-beat mystery stories. I’d love to see a game just like this but with more character stories, more exploration, and bigger mysteries to solve. Also, I'd like to meet Lobster Cop. Wouldn't we all?
I recommend this game because it's cute, friendly, and will definitely make you laugh. It involves fetch quests and getting dialogue out of every character, which may not be everyone's favorite things, but are great for me. It's quick but fun ride the whole way through, and the ending just wraps it all up in such a wonderful way. Sometimes we all need a break from life to watch ghost scientist animals dance.
The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game is available for PC.
Played on: PC (Steam)
Playtime: 1 hr
How I heard about this game: Watched demo presentation at Fantastic Arcade Austin