For a game with so little content, it still manages to sneak in a bug and inconsistent writing. It’s sloppier than the first game.
Genres: Adventure, Point n Click
Developer: Grace Bruxner, Thomas Bowker
Publisher: worm club, SUPERHOT PRESENTS
Release date: 9 Dec, 2019
Having recently played and reviewed the first game, which really disappointed me, I’m not at all looking forward to Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard (FD2). Considering how well received the first game was, I don’t see the developers changing up what they did the first time, as there’s no reason to fix something that’s not broken. Knowing I’d knock it out quickly enough, I decided to play it sooner than later to find out whether I was right or wrong. To spare any potential mystery, I wasn’t off the mark in my prediction.
Although the game presents itself as a mystery, it’s more a matter of just talking to everybody and completing fetch quests for all the NPCs. Eventually the answer as to what took place will simply drop into your lap without having to solve any puzzles or figure anything out. Gameplay wise, it’s more like a walking simulator and visual novel mix.
The controls are quite similar to the first game, though you can also interact with the notebook. If playing with a controller, movement is controlled with the ‘L joystick’ while talking to characters and interacting with objects is done with ‘A.’ It’s also possible to slightly zoom in with the magnifying glass by pressing any shoulder button, but there’s no application for this at all, so I don’t see why the game bothered with it. Bringing up the notebook is done with ‘X’ though the notes inside it have no significance or utility, unless you’re quite forgetful and need a reminder. You can just read the detective’s silly messages.
With an invisible witch moving into a small village, the residents are so excited they plan on throwing a grand parade to celebrate. However, just before the parade is to take place, someone has ruined all of the prep work and decorations. It’s up to the Frog Detective to determine who would do such a heinous thing. FD2 opens up with a scene including Lobster Cop, which gives some relationship between the main character and this legendary detective. However, like many interactions in the game, it drags on and on, with conversations that ramble and don’t have much if any payoff.
Compared to the first game, the visuals are composed using the same type of models, down to everyone’s grins. However, the setting has changed to a forest at night, so the color palette and environment is different. It carries the same silly tone and aesthetic as last time, meaning that those who enjoyed it last time would like this as well.
A couple of tracks were reused for the sequel, but it seems that most of the songs were newly composed for the slightly different ambiance of this game. It still has a similar tone though, with the film noir jazz style playing out in the background. I like it well enough, but think it’s a bit too somber for the childish nature of the game. There aren’t many sound effects what with the game’s mechanics and lack of action.
- You can use stickers to decorate your notebook. I used a robot and alien spaceship. Whee…
- Some of the NPCs dialogue alludes to mechanics or conflicting testimonies that would be of interest to a detective. Mary’s obnoxious singing made everyone sound-proof their house, yet Susan claims she’d have heard a vehicle driving into town from her house. You in theory could mark her as suspicious for this, but it’s completely pointless and changes nothing. There’s no accusation mechanic.
- The game developer toots their own horn in this game. They make a cameo again if you meet a specific condition, which is an unnecessary self-insert. In another discussion, it makes reference to how popular the first game was and why it got a sequel. I’d be gobsmacked and humbled if my short, barely a game was so well received, not crowing about it.
- There was an achievement in the first game about the ending being delayed, but it kept dragging on much more in the sequel. I couldn’t wait for the game to finally be over, and dreaded the idea it was going into another case as it showed off a trailer for another sequel. Since I only got the first 2 games from HB monthly, I’ll ensure I don’t get it.
- The first game was more random or scattershot with the fetch quest mechanic. In FD2, it follows more along the lines of a cartoon storyline, where it’s one, continual chain of trading fetch quests for something the next person wants. So just follow the bread crumbs.
- To streamline the achievements, read a guide in advance, as it’ll save you the trouble of playing the game a 2nd time. Otherwise you’ll have to mash through all the dialogue.
When playing through this game, I was actually more annoyed than with the first one, perhaps because I was being more attentive and critical of the dialogue and situations. However, I think the developers were more careless this time. When traveling to the village, you have to get out of an enchanted cart and walk the rest of the way because they’re not allowed, but in the ending cinematic, everyone is riding around in one of those carts. Plus, someone mentions that this forest is perpetually nighttime in order to make a joke about her wearing sunglasses. Except if it’s always night time, why would anyone want to live there? Seemingly no thought was made about the implications of how that’d impact everyone’s lives in the village.
I found out that the game wasn’t even particularly well tested when I played it again and was being thorough so I’d get the achievement for finishing the notebook. Most NPCs in the notebook have a Needs section that gets a Done stamp over it when you give them the item they want. However, Barney’s entry didn’t update after I found the pair of glasses he told me about. Upon calling him again to see if that was necessary, it simply had me go through the whole conversation again, removed the glasses from my inventory to spawn them in the previous place, and I picked them up. If the game had been designed well, the protagonist would either say it’s unnecessary because he already made the call, or the NPC would have updated dialogue. With the sequel being more sloppy and even boastful with little reason for it, I don’t recommend getting the game.