Backlog Journey 2023 #09 - Time on Frog Island

BY moho_00 ON May 19, 2023

I was immediately intrigued by Time on Frog Island since it looked like a colorful puzzle / exploration game with a quirky, sort-of-but-not-really Animal Crossing aesthetic. The game opens up with your ship crashing onto the titular Frog Island and the object of the game is to repair your ship so you can resume your journey.

An interesting twist to this game is that there isn't any dialog with the anthropomorphic frog denizens. Instead, you'll have to rely on some cryptic (at times) images that pop up in dialog bubbles that indicate what object they want or task that needs to be performed. This is a neat approach and works to cut down on dialog that can often feel bloated and turns everything into a puzzle of sorts. I did find some of the later puzzles a little odd to solve without words to explain the objective, but it seemed to work well for the most part.

Most of the game has you running around from one frog to another trading objects with everyone to ultimately get the parts you need to repair your ship. It's not entirely one giant fetch quest though and you'll need to do some exploration, light platforming, and traditional puzzle solving to reach the end. While you're doing all of this, you'll get snippets of the back story surrounding your character to flesh things out a bit, but the story is mostly going to be the one you create yourself by way of interacting with the frog characters and exploring the island.

Speaking of which, the island is fairly small and aside form a couple of areas, it's really easy to navigate in terms of obstacles. Some areas are blocked off until you reach certain objects, so there's a lot of backtracking involved. The lack of an in-game map and relatively slow speed at which you move can make the later challenges more tedious than they should be, but given that this is meant to be a laid-back / casual game, it's hard to fault it for encouraging you to take your time.

The game is generally enjoyable, but it suffers a similar fate that I felt AER: Memories of Old had, which is that it just doesn't do enough to separate itself from the droves of other, similar games. In particular, it reminded me a lot of A Short Hike, but I didn't find it nearly as endearing as that one. The general quirkiness and bizarre characters are neat and all, but they're placed on top of a fairly simplistic game that doesn't have a lot going on underneath the surface.

This isn't a "bad" game by any means and there's some fun to be had, but after spending about an hour and a half completing the main story...I don't plan on revisiting this island any time soon.

Played On: Xbox Series X
Completion Date: 2/5/23
Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
Rating: 5/10

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