Come on y’all, get on your spurs and 10-gallon hat, and boot scoot your way to the saloon at Cowboy County, where Frog Detective, the second most rootinest tootinest detective in town, has a darn tootin’ head-scratcher of a mystery to solve. Yee haw…
I have had enough of that bit already. Frog Detective is back with Corruption at Cowboy County. It’s a western themed conclusion to the series. Yee haw.
For those unfamiliar, the Frog Detective series is a now completed trilogy of short, narrative-focused comedy games from Australian dev duo Grace Bruxner & Thomas Bowker, aka Worm Club. In each installment, Frog Detective, the second-best detective going around next to Lobster Cop, is given an assignment by his supervisor to solve. In first-person, you will explore a small area inhabited by the cast of characters, whom you will talk to and complete favours for, usually involving fetching an item in exchange for another. In the first game, you had to investigate a ghost that threatened to derail a dance contest. In the sequel, you had to find out who ruined the welcoming parade for the invisible wizard that moved into the neighbourhood. It’s all very fun and cute, while maintaining an excellent dry sense of humour throughout.
In Frog Detective 3, the titular sleuth is sent to investigate a curious case with his idol and number one detective, Lobster Cop. This sheriffless town (at least it is until Lobster Cop appoints one as soon as he arrives) has a problem – everyone has had their hats stolen. Much like the previous entries, you begin with your task (get four things for Lobster Cop so he can solve the mystery) and must talk to the handful of residents to find out more information that can help you (all written down in a notebook you can refer back to).
It’s certainly a more expansive area this time around, as it feels much more like the small town that it is, rather than the condensed environments of its predecessors. You even get a little scooter to zip around in. The game is not really big enough to warrant a faster form of transportation, nor did the devs need to make the scooter as fun to ride as it is, but they did and the game is better for its inclusion. It’s much like Frog Detective’s magnifying glass, which is still not required for anything in the game, but that doesn’t stop me from using it to zoom in on any cute little bug that I come across.
Frog Detective 3, much like the previous entries, shines in its writing and humour. These are some very funny games with excellent dialogue and barely a miss throughout their brief runtimes. Despite the cute, pastel graphics, Frog Detective doesn’t trade on tweeness. The games have a dry kind of humour that is accentuated by the unchanging faces and lack of movement from the characters.
When the Frog Detective states that crime isn’t real in his world, it’s stated as plainly as everything else. As is the exchange afterward in which Frog Detective is called up on the fact he is a detective and his business is called Frog Detective Crime Solving Agency. There is the occasional meta-joke, and another instance of the great running gag that involves Frog Detective saying something very questionable and then cutting to an in-game version of Grace Bruxner, denouncing the previous statement (she’s right, Frog Detective, you can’t just give strangers your full address).
Corruption at Cowboy County is a more ambitious game than its predecessors, while still remaining a tight adventure that can be finished in a single sitting. As well as being physically bigger, there are twists in its story, a great western-themed soundtrack from Dan Golding (of Untitled Goose Game fame), and callbacks to the other games. With all that, it’s still a 90-minute game (up from the 45 - 60 minutes of the first two). This is not a knock against the series, as this now-completed trilogy fits a lot of great comedy into its three bite-sized installments.
In addition to releasing on Steam, Corruption at Cowboy County will appear on Xbox Game Pass for PC along with the rest of the series under the title Frog Detective: The Whole Mystery. This means that the series, which has already become a surprise hit with over 500,000 copies sold, will reach an ever wider audience, and I am very excited for more people to become acquainted with this delight of a trilogy.
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