Time On Frog Island review: A laid back adventure with friendly frogs
What about all the cute frog-centric indie games right now?
The story of a frogSchim, detective frog, swamp paradise, Olliefrog Toad Skatertea cup, frog song – it feels like you’re in the middle of an (unbelievably adorable) frog uprising. Not that I’m complaining, I’m more than happy that our amphibian friends are getting the love they deserve and one of those games is Time On Frog Island, a cozy adventure where you play as a gruff captain who has made shipwreck on an island teeming with, you guessed it, frogs.
When your humble boat (no bigger than a dull one) crashed on the island, it was largely destroyed. To get the parts needed to repair your ship and return home, you must trade items with the friendly frog inhabitants as you navigate a spaghetti web of trades and treasure hunt quests.
Sounds easy enough, but there is a slight hitch. You don’t speak the same language as the frogs, so they communicate what they want through pictures instead of dialogues. If a frog wants a strawberry, a bubble with a strawberry picture will appear above the frog’s head. Other times, they’ll show you a series of multiple images and you’ll have to try to figure out what they mean. Some kind of round, shiny object? A pint glass with a snowflake symbol? It’s up to you to bounce around the island, figure out what they want, and get it for them, because they’re cute and you want to make them happy.
So go explore and what island it is to explore. It’s a slice of heaven and a decent size too, with beaches, woods and snow-capped peaks all open for a spin. When you find the right object, you pick it up and hold it above your head. , your comical little arms carrying objects that are almost the same size as your whole body. There are a few little details that I like, like the way objects bounce when you hold them as you head around the island, how the bushes rustle when you pass them, and how the water has a satisfying plop. when you rush through it. It’s amazing how something as simple as running can be so satisfying.
Traversing the island isn’t just about using your sailor legs. Grab a flower from the ground and its petals will start spinning and propel you forward, doubling your speed. Picking up a mushroom and planting it in a mound of dirt will make it grow into a giant super mushroom that can act as a trampoline, making those hard-to-reach places more accessible. And (my absolute favorite) are the giant leaves. Take one off the ground, then jump off a ledge and you’ll glide gracefully until your feet touch the ground. Frog Island is far from flat, and with lots of hills, grassy slopes, and rocky cliff edges, it’s great fun to drive around the island. You’ll retread a lot of ground rushing back and forth, but that didn’t bother me in the slightest. If the sailor owned a Fitbit, he would definitely go crazy.
However, we’re not done with traversal yet, as the Half Past Yellow devs decided to even include After avenues to explore. Visiting the local tavern gives you access to a machine that allows you to make your own concoctions. Putting in the right ingredients and drinking what oozes gives you permanent frog abilities, like having a long sticky tongue that can grab objects and a frog jump that extends how far you can jump. When you’re finally done rushing, you can sit by a campfire and fall asleep to start the next day and the sailor’s dreams reveal why they first set sail and how they got on the boat. island in the first place.
If you’re feeling a little bogged down by the endless list of items your amphibian friends have gifted you, there are little surprises and mysteries to uncover elsewhere on the island. Jumping on a string of water lilies in a pond will make a musical scale, which is curious. And an icicle I brought back from the mountain melted to reveal a mysterious frog statue, which must surely find its place somewhere? In the same vein as A Short Hike, there are a handful of mysteries to solve, many of which invite you to experiment with the items on the island by using them to reach difficult terrain or moving them to certain locations.
There is always something to do and every day brings new possibilities. After finding the carpenter’s handsaw, he began to repair a bridge that needed fixing, and the next day he felled a group of trees that revealed the entrance to a mysterious cave. It’s nice to see the inhabitants of the frog going about their daily business. They still roam the island and even though I was in the middle of my most frantic outburst, I would always stop and say hello if I encountered one. There were often times when the frogs asked for something and I got nothing in return, but helping them was rewarding in other ways.
I once passed love letters between two frogs, the guard and the artist, who were located on different ends of the island (juicy, I know). After receiving the last letter, the two began hanging out together, with the guard watching the artist paint during the day, and then the two gazing at the stars at night. It had absolutely nothing to do with repairing the ship, but it did me good. I just wanted the frog-loving couple to be happy! Shout!
For all its wholesomeness, I did run into a few slightly frustrating issues. The blacksmith, a frog with huge forearms and a pair of glasses that make his eyes look comically large, was running around in panic because his tadpole pup was missing. After finding the cheeky guy in a ditch and sending him away, the blacksmith thanked me but then kept running as if he was still looking for them – even when I threw the pup full force on his head. This glitch meant that the trading chain was cut and I could not progress. Only after closing the game and restarting it did the game magically get back on track.
This wasn’t the only time something like this happened and having to close the game and restart to fix everything is less than ideal. I’m hoping this is something that can be fixed with a little patch, because although it’s happened several times, I haven’t come across anything that properly broke the game. Other than those hiccups, my visit to Frog Island was just delightful. Clocking in at 3-4 hours, Time on Frog Island is a bite-sized adventure that doesn’t overstay its welcome and could easily be played in one comfortable sitting.