I’ve waited an excruciatingly long time to finally play the Frog Detective games. The first entry in Aussie studio Worm Club’s investigative amphibian trilogy launched back in 2018, but as someone that doesn’t often game on PC I’ve become accustomed to just waiting for console ports of everything – even things my decrepit rig could feasibly handle. Thankfully, that day has finally come with Frog Detective: The Entire Mystery packaging up all three games plus a fun little bonus for PlayStation, Xbox and Switch.
In case you’ve been living under a lily pad, Frog Detective is a series of short and sweet detective mysteries from the mind of Grace Bruxner that sees the titular Frog Detective take on a trio of gently-escalating mysteries from a “haunted” island, to the vandalism of a wizardly welcoming party and finally a mass hat theft in a Wild West town. Each game is loosely connected by Frog Detective’s desire to make a name for himself amongst the investigator community and his rival, Lobster Cop, but offers its own standalone adventure within a new location and with a fresh cast of oddball characters to interact with.
To get to the bottom of the mysteries in each game, players must navigate their respective locations and use the tried-and-true adventure game method of chatting with the folks around them, probing them for information and trading random junk they find for different random junk and so on. It’s all a very unabashed parody of the ridiculous leaps of logic you’d find in the DOS-based adventures of old, swapping the drab trappings of an old Agatha Christie game for a bold and cartoony world where it just makes total sense for a koala swimming in the ocean to need a magnet, or for a cow named Craig to be carrying around a pickaxe just in case they need to trade it for a photo of a ghost.
That is to say, Frog Detective is a silly game. It’s silly and goofy and just very un-serious. This comes across not just in the situations ol’ FD is put in but the consistently-endearing dialogue throughout that serves as a stark reminder that video games can be very funny when they’re made by people who are very funny. There’s a Wes Anderson-like charm to the writing as well as the camera work and soundtrack from Dan Golding and Bruxner lending her pipes for the astonishingly catchy Slippery Pond (more like Earworm Club, right?), so if that sounds like your vibe, you’re going to have a great time here.
Each entry in the trilogy should only take most folks around an hour or so to complete, which makes them great little one-and-done experiences to spread over a few days or a nice little lazy afternoon playthrough to binge the whole thing at once.
As a special treat for those who’ve waited for these console ports or are picking them up again though, there’s also a bonus scooter minigame that plays off of the scooter-riding mechanic introduced in Frog Detective 3: Corruption at Cowboy Country. It’s essentially a little Tony Hawk-esque map to scoot around on while performing tricks and collecting items to chase high scores. An incredibly unnecessary but somehow simultaneously essential addition to round off the experience.
This succinct and sweet little bundle of short-form adventures is just irresistibly charming and wholesome and pleasant in a way that few games are, making it a refreshing and terribly timely bit of reprieve from the onslaught of very good but very intense releases in 2023, and just this year’s whole deal in general. That each game is capped off by a dance party inclusive of everyone Frog Detective meets is an inspiring glimpse into the incredible communities we could be nourishing with just a few more folks as decent as he.
The Frog Detective games are arguably essential playing for anyone who's ever enjoyed an old-school adventure game or wants to know what kind of wholesome and hilarious shenanigans Aussie developers are capable of, and The Entire Mystery means that console players can finally get around it. The added bonus of a Tony Hawk-esque minigames adds the perfect little sweetener to an already-scrumptious treat of a series.
Easy-going adventure gameplay that anyone can enjoy
Charming, often upsettingly funny dialogue
Fantastic visual style and music
Frog Detective Scooter is a great addition
Short runtimes and basic sleuthing won't do much for connoisseurs of the genre