The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game released last year to an eager cult following. The developers at Worm Club infused an immense amount of charm and character into the low key adventure-comedy. The story fittingly followed a detective, who happens to be a frog, called in to investigate the strange events unfolding on a mysterious island. Frog Detective managed to capture hearts and minds with its unique sense of humor and commitment to leaving every player with a smile on their face.
Almost a year later, Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard has appeared in the wild with a fresh demo at PAX West. The game will continue the story that began in the previous game while presenting an all-new mystery. A welcoming ceremony gone wrong. An invisible wizard. A a town full of suspects. The amphibian sleuth will need to put all of the clues together to find the one behind it all.
We were able to talk with Grace Bruxner, one half of the team working on Frog Detective 2, to get some insight into how her indie project became a reality. Bruxner detailed the origins of the project, a unique blending of nostalgia for murder mysteries, specifically Agatha Christie's work, and a desire to put games into the world that she would want to play. The overriding goal of Frog Detective as a series is to foster what Bruxner called "subtle joy," experiences that prioritize small smiles and sensible chuckles.
The sense of humor required to walk the slim line between full blown guffaws and courteous acknowledgement of a witticism that Bruxner uses to bring out the heart of Frog Detective 2 comes from her experiences doing stand up comedy. The experiences she had during her years as a comedienne honed a unique and low key style that informs her work as a game developer.
When asked about the artistic inspirations for Frog Detective's singular style, Bruxner gave a small smile. "I missed a couple 3D modeling classes," she quipped before going on to explain that her professor in university had emphasized finding the joy in modeling rather than achieving technical proficiency. Grace showed me examples of her earlier work that all embraced her central design aesthetic of putting smiling faces on every kind of creature. She referenced her previous games as interactive dioramas, scenes and spaces that people can explore. They all embody her central idea of spreading joy. From their visual design to their stories or layouts, all of her work has been built on making sure those who encounter it will smile.
Believe it or not, the financial backing of Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard might just be one of its most interesting components. Worm Club has become one of the first components of a mentoring and funding project called SUPERHOT PRESENTS. The developers behind Superhot approached Worm Club with an offer of support for future Frog Detective games after they encountered and loved the first Frog Detective game. In a statement released prior to PAX West, Bruxner described the deal thusly:
Here’s the real story of how this happened. SUPERHOT noticed my cool frog game and were like “hmmm,,, what if,,,,, money?????” and I was like “...ok fine but I will only agree if you send me lots of superhot t-shirts because I need clothes to wear around the house when I make the game” and they said “weird request but ok” and sent me a big box of shirts. And that’s all I wear now. Also my dog Noddy wears them too. That’s how business deals work in this industry baby!! Get used to it!! Anyway, Frog Detective is very good (I know this because I made it) and I think you’ll enjoy it even though it’s not even a little bit like SUPERHOT. There will be no slow motion murdering!!! See ya.
Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard will be launching on PC in 2019.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!