Get ready to be cast away on an island paradise in Time on Frog Island. As the name suggests, this sandbox is full of sticky situations as you try to help your new frog friends in return for some favors. As fun as this all sounds, the game may or may not be for you. So, in this episode of Before You Buy, I will share with you key features that you need to know about Time on Frog Island to decide if you are going to enjoy it!
The game starts you off on a ship where you, a sailor, quickly begin freaking out because the weather is not working in your favor. Soon enough the ship crashes and here you are on an unknown island with frog residents. The island is luscious, surrounded by calming waters, and colorful with plenty of objects to interact with.
For example, you can grab a leaf to glide easily from place to place or get a flower that increases your speed when you press X. Another example is that stepping on large mushrooms lets you jump higher to reach places you couldn’t before.
The island itself is divided into different parts. There is the main one with a small town, the barracks, and a top mountain, but you also have an Eastern and Western island. The town was my favorite because you can find plenty of frogs wandering around with different shops to see like a tavern, a blacksmith, and a church, to name a few. The mountain on the other introduces a new biome where the snow takes over so you no longer get that exotic feeling that you had when exploring the other areas.
To add to the immersion, we get a simplistic weather system. Sometimes it’s raining and other times it’s sunny and beautiful. We also get a day and night cycle. These elements are essential because they trigger different flowers, animals, and even frogs to spawn.
In regards to the sound department, sound effects are charming. When you step on leaf petals you enjoy quirky musical notes. When you walk around, you can hear your footsteps, the sound of the rain, and splashing steps on bodies of water. However, the music was okay at best. In the beginning, it was delightful, but it quickly got repetitive for me.
Map and Performance
In terms of traversing the world, moving around is easy and simple. Additionally, controls are very responsive. However, you cannot rotate the camera. I wish we could since we do not get an in-game map. So, memorizing the island can get a bit tricky. Hence, some camera rotation could have been helpful.
As for performance, the game was a joy to play on the Nintendo Switch. The docked mode had a few stutters here and there but nothing major. On the other hand, the handheld mode was smooth and the pop of color on my OLED screen was a joy to see. Moreover, there are no loading screens other than the initial one. So, you will be playing with no interruptions at all. Cheers to more games like this.
The Frog Residents
The best part about this game is getting to know the frog residents. Time on Frog Island does such an amazing job introducing us to them. The first frog you meet is the artist and you instantly understand how communication works.
Time on Frog Island does not have voice acting or dialogue. Instead, it uses bubbles (no, not me haha), with pictures inside them. These pictures will help you understand what the frog is asking for. You will also hear some mumbling sounds, kind of like the ones in Animal Crossing or The Sims.
Frogs are all unique with their own personal, jobs, and routines. You get to meet a merchant, hermit, blacksmith, artist, diva, chef, fisherman, guard, and more. As for their routines, they all have different places they go to depending on the time of day or weather. Some will always be in the town while others will move around the islands. This certainly makes them feel more lively. However, with the lack of a map, it gets confusing to find them at times.
The purpose of interacting with these frogs is to exchange items with them. At first, you need their help to rebuild your ship. However, soon enough you will find out that they all have so many requests that they need help with. So, this is kind of like the barter system back in the day. You give them an item in exchange for another one.
Time on Frog Island is divided into primary and secondary objectives.
The primary objective is for you to rebuild your broken ship. To do so, you need to collect wooden planks, plant, wheel, rudder, rope, and sail. Wooden planks are the easiest to come by. They are found next to your ship. But, how can we find the rest of the items?
The next item you want to get is the plant. This is where the game starts to show you how the gameplay works. You meet an artist frog that happens to be drawing your plant. When you try to take it, they will curse at you which was funny to see. So you decide to talk to them. As such, they tell you that they can give you your plant back in exchange for a bottle that they want to draw. Luckily the bottle is close. You grab it, give it to them and you receive your plant back.
Now you can place the plant on your ship and see an achievement unlocked. This was definitely a welcome feature. We do not have an achievement system on the Nintendo Switch yet. Thus, seeing that we have plenty of them to unlock was fun to explore. Anyway, back to the quests. They won’t all be as easy as finding the plant. For instance, getting the wheel will require you to fulfill the requests of 2 frogs. Other items might require you to fulfill the quests of several frogs first.
This is where the game quickly started to get tricky for me. Some items were extremely difficult to find even with a guide that I received from the devs to help me out. However, this should not be a problem for you. By the time you buy the game, plenty of written and video walkthroughs will be available to support you.
This leads us to the secondary objectives. Unfortunately, I did not get to experience any of them since I got stuck trying to find the wheel. The nature of the quests and the trigger system meant that you need to do things in a certain sequence to progress. However, I can tell you what the secondary quests are. Based on my understanding, you can build a house, partake in races and rituals, farm, fish, and brew different drinks. I really wish I was able to try these out.
I also want to point out a few gripes that I had with the game. First, there is no inventory system. So, you will be picking items one by one and hoarding them in a safe place to find them again. To me, that was next to my ship. Second, there is no quest log, so you need to either memorize or write them down for future reference. Third, it can be so difficult to track down where some frogs are because it was challenging to memorize the island without an in-game map. With that said, I need to also say that I know this is the intention of the game. The devs want to challenge the player with logic, memorization, and puzzle-solving. So, this might be a blast for you.
Should YOU Buy Time on Frog Island?
Time on Frog Island is an excellent game for the right audience. The game is cute, original, quirky, adorable, and very wholesome. When I was able to figure things out I had a really good time. Regardless, quests got difficult to manage, I found myself forgetting a lot of things and being overwhelmed for most of my playtime.
When I started the game, I thought it would offer more life-sim gameplay mechanics. I suppose I gathered that from the trailers. I also expected some light puzzle solving. Thus, I did not know there will be this intricate trigger system.
The game is fun and a delight, for the right gamer. So, are you the right gamer for this one?
This game IS for you if you:
-Love puzzle solving
-Love complex trigger systems
-Enjoy figuring out platforming segments
-Love quirky indies with surface-level stories
This game is NOT for you if you:
-Get easily frustrated by complex puzzles
-Like the games, you play to be “hand-holdy”
-Want an in-depth story with lots of emotions and events
-Think this is a life-sim game
I hope this helped you understand what Time on Frog Island is. If you enjoyed this article, you can find more from me on YouTube, as well as more shenanigans on Twitter. Stay bubbly, stay positive, and I will chat with you in the next one!