You can’t really fault the title of Time on Frog Island. It sums up the game perfectly. Your small captain gets caught up in something of a wild storm and as a result, becomes shipwrecked and is washed up on a mysterious island. Yes, you guessed it, the island is inhabited by frogs.
This makes repairing your boat more challenging (as you can imagine) mainly because of the language barrier. The amphibian residents of the island will communicate in symbols, offering you clues which will eventually lead you to finding what you need to get back on track.
I say eventually, because at its core Time on Frog Island features a spaghetti network of trades. There is no linear path to follow, the game is pretty much fully open as soon as you start. As you engage with the islanders, you will begin to figure out what each needs in order to surrender the item in their possession, and from there start to join up the dots.
It’s not the biggest island, but Frog Island boasts a fairly varied environment including snowy mountain peaks, sunny beaches and dense forests which hide all sorts of useful items and treasures. You begin at the wreckage site, and quickly realise there is a day/night cycle at play too. When the sun goes down, you’ll need to gather some firewood and light the campfire to get some sleep (and save the game). Although don’t panic, your progress will be saved regularly also.
I’m the type of gamer who loves to explore, and is happy to spend lots of time doing so. However, Time on Frog Island failed to grip me and I’ve spent a fair bit of time reflecting on why. Firstly, the island itself is small that you’ll be seeing an awful lot of the same areas time and time again.
Also, despite the gameplay being simple and accessible to pretty much everyone, it can be really difficult to figure out what to do next. As a result, I found myself aimlessly running around at times, hoping for dumb luck to strike. Finally, despite introducing fishing, farming and even brewing the gameplay remains incredibly simple, and overwhelmingly feels like you are just ferrying items from A to B. To be fair, there is a bit of platforming such as jumping and climbing, but it’s very very basic.
I found my attention span waning after an hour or so, and despite intermittent breakthroughs I couldn’t really find any momentum that sucked me into the game. Time on Frog Island features achievements which you can view from the start menu that offer some cryptic clues, as they are often awarded for achieving the main objectives you are working on anyway.
On a more positive note, Time on Frog Island looks brilliant. The cel shaded visuals combined with the setting remind very much of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, which is no bad thing. The lush environments and cute animations of the characters create a mysterious but relaxing setting, which is a pleasure to explore. In this sense, it’s a charming little game.
This brings me back to my core issue with Time on Frog Island however. I just didn’t find that there was enough to do to keep me invested or I’d struggle to figure out what needed doing next. It may just be me, but it felt like a war of attrition, slowly chipping away at the core aim from any given direction which limited any feeling of progression or achievement.
I was also quite shocked at the price tag. Even when on sale, it’s an expensive way to spend a few hours and will really depend on how much you enjoy soft, simple and unguided adventure games like Time on Frog Island.
What we have here is a charming, if not flawed, adventure into the unknown. However, certain gameplay issues mean that you may just want to cut your Time on Frog Island short.
Time on Frog Island is available from the Xbox Store