Frog Detective 3: Corruption at Cowboy County Review

Frog Detective 3 Header

When the first Frog Detective game quietly arrived on Steam in 2018, I was wrapping up my last year at college in a 3D video game art major. I was at the tail-end of a 4 year curriculum that seemed to only focus on and reward video-game art that was either hyper-realistic or ground-breakingly stylized, and my creativity felt sapped by the unrealistic expectations being set on me. But then I discover Grace Bruxner’s catalogue of short, simple, and effortlessly charming game – from ALIEN CASENO to Frog Detective, I was blown away by how, despite breaking every rule of art and design college had shoved down my throat. These managed to be the most fun and enjoyable video games I had played all year.

A year after my life was changed by the first Frog Detective game, a sequel launched – Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard. It was more of the same, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with that – having another chance to spend an afternoon following a sweet little turtleneck-wearing frog on his latest adventure was the highlight of my year. It felt like Grace Bruxner and her Worm Club team, in the wake of their sudden frog-fueled success, were set to launch yearly Frog Detective adventures.

As you can tell by the fact that I’m only writing about a third Frog Detective game now, that obviously didn’t quite pan out. The state of the world through lockdown and other unexpected circumstances hit game development hard, so the delay in Frog Detective 3’s release isn’t any kind of contentious surprise. Nor is it a surprise that, all these years later, this silly frog and the amazing artists at Worm Club have still got it.

Frog Detective 3 Crispy Snack

If you’re expecting an expansive, foundation-altering, genre-redefining game with Frog Detective 3, temper yourself. This is another slice of silliness built on the same simple bones at the last two games. Our titular hero, Frog Detective, is called up by the Supervisor to solve another conspicuous mystery that has left the rest of the team scratching their polygonal animal heads.

Like the last two games, you hop into a small town full of colorful characters, this time a sandy rural spot called Cowboy County that is decidedly full of cowboy vibes. You’ll awkwardly interrogate each one of the townsfolk to get info on what they do and what they need, then follow the tumbling chain of dominoes as you rapidly run around acquiring rewards from one character that fit the bill of what another needs, and so on and so forth until you’re left with the solution to the mystery!

If Frog Detective 3 had come out just a year or so after the last game, the familiar format and pacing that most of the game follows might have left it feeling a little too repetitive. With so much time since the last entry, though, it’s familiar, inviting, and even a little nostalgic As before, you can feel a different energy and emotion emanating from each character you interact with – for some characters, the conversations can be dry and awkward and a little roundabout. Other characters are full of bubbly charm, bouncing off Frog Detective in goofy, flirty, and often adorably confusing ways. You can sort of feel the writing find it’s groove as you walk down Cowboy County and speak to each resident – while the early moments of Frog Detective 3 coast on comfy, low-key vibes, by the end of the game I had been hit by plenty of unexpected gut-busting laughs.

Frog Detective 3 has a Scooter

Plus, without getting into it too much, Frog Detective 3 definitely does go beyond the familiar formula of the last two, delivering some fun surprises that help make this finale feel extra special. Also, you can ride a scooter. And there’s a worm playing a piano. And an interactive cowboy poem generator. You know, the usual indie frog game stuff.

Beyond the cute and silly writing and the goofy one-off visual gags, Frog Detective 3 is just filled with so much heart and soul. You can really feel the love for the characters, and the dedication to just kind of doing whatever just because it’s cute or funny. It’s a short, simple, and undercooked game, and that’s why I love it so much. As a standalone experience it might not be as hilarious or surprising as the earlier games, but as the closing chapter on the Frog Detective series as a whole, it’s an awesome opportunity to dive back into a silly little world that had such a big impact on me.

Frog Detective’s story may end here, but wherever Grace Bruxner and Worm Club go next, I know it’ll be just as unforgettable.

Summary
Frog Detective 3 is definitely the most important game about a scooter-riding frog you'll play all year. It's a heartwarming and effortlessly charming finale for the adventures of this silly, shy, super-talented turtleneck-wearing frog pal. In a world where triple-A game remakes and hundred-hour RPG mega games rule, it's always such a nice breath of fresh air to dive into a game like Frog Detective 3 that does so much, and so well, with so little.
Good
  • A cute, short, simple and silly adventure
  • Some genuinely hilarious dialogue and visual gags
  • That cowboy song...
Bad
  • Will feel overly familiar if you've recently played the first two
9
Written by
I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.