Time On Frog Island Review

There is an art to a good fetch quest, and Time On Frog Island explores this. More often than naught, game devs use fetch quests to pad out their game to artificially lengthen the experience. “Go to area and acquire X amount of coupons and give to NPC with glowing marker on map”, has become standard for most lazy designers.

What if a fetch quest could be fun? The Legend of Zelda games have many fetch quests baked into their design and those games are beloved despite the hassle of being an errand boy for NPCs. Death Stranding focused entirely on this concept and made one of the most enigmatic experiences due to an imaginative premise and diabolical psychology.

If fetch quests can be fun, could there be an entire game revolving around one? How could it be made fun? Is it even possible? Get ready to spend some Time On Frog Island to find out!

Time On Frog Island 
Developer: Half Past Yellow
Publisher: Merge Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: July 12, 2022
Players: 1
Price: $19.99 USD

Time On Frog Island begins with the unnamed protagonist getting shipwrecked on a mysterious island. The first thing anyone playing will notice is the charming art style and character design.

The player-character is a sailor who resembles L from Death Note if he was drawn in the style of Crayon Shin-chan, while also cosplaying as the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island.

As expected, the island setting in Time On Frog Island is populated by frogs. Each one of these cartoony amphibian villagers are designed to be very unique from one another so that they stand out and leave an impression. This is so that it becomes easier to commit them to memory for association later.

After getting your bearings and realizing that the simple controls feel responsive, players will feel inclined to explore. Time On Frog Island has very little hand-holding – in fact there is almost no text at all and all character communication is done with emojis.

The goal is to repair the sailor’s boat and to do that, he must engage with the indigenous population to acquire the parts necessary. Compounded with the language barrier of speaking only in pictographs, each item is part of an elaborate trading-web.

Some items are easy to acquire to progress and only demand a little exploration around the island. Other times, expect to get x to trade for y so you can trade it for z, but x can only be acquired when it rains.

The sailor also has no pockets and can only hold one item at a time, but thankfully, items stay wherever they’re dropped.

This may seem like a nightmare, but Time On Frog Island is kept very simple. The landmass is only a three islands and most of the frogs live in the center of the main island; making it easy to find everyone.

Some frogs do have a routine and won’t always stay in one place. While it can be annoying to seek the wandering carpenter, it serves a higher purpose of making the world feel real.

Sadly, Time On Frog Island‘s scale is too small to fully realize its potential. Only the potion bar in town and the sailor’s house are enterable homes. None of the other frog domiciles can be entered, which is a missed opportunity to further flesh out the characters outside of their broad archetypes.

The overall atmosphere is perfectly nailed. Much of the frustrations of being stuck on an island with weirdos you don’t understand has been emulated here, but also the calming and relaxing ambiance too.

The cartoony, grassy, rolling hills and the skittering of wildlife makes the simplistic environments feel lively. The sailor can even interact with most objects – picking them up, throwing them, and many also have various abilities tied to them.

The propeller makes the sailor zoom by quickly. A large leaf can be used to glide long distances like the one in Wind Waker. Most of them don’t have much utility, but an imaginative gamer will be able to come up with ways to use them creatively.

Gamers can acquire most things out of order, but there are some sequences that must be done in order to initiate a chain of events. A missed opportunity was not including a separate post-game mode that randomizes the map and shuffles around items and the villager needs. This would have greatly added value and replayability to Time On Frog Island.

At first, Time On Frog Island can be overwhelming and you won’t know what to do. There is a profound sense of discovery baked into the world due to the lack of any spoken dialogue or tutorial prompts.

Figuring out how to use the unlockable abilities earned from the potions is also not explained. Why would it? Sailor gulps down a mystery drink and nobody would be able to realistically explain to him what he drank and what it will do.

The minimalistic design of Time On Frog Island ensures a cathartic and relaxing game, but when you know what to do and everything begins to fall into place while living on the island, the experience wraps up quickly. Even when factoring the time of early bumbling about and meeting NPCs, the ending is reached in about two hours.

Adding more stuff or features like the kind of things seen in Animal Crossing would bog down the game with fluff and everything would become busy work. To balance out the back and forth fetching, there could have been a proper mini-game for the fishing instead of sleeping to the next day for the catch.

A “survival-mode” would have been contrary to Time On Frog Island’s focus on being a relaxing game if players have to agonize over stats and resources. Light and amusing minigames to add some diversion could have been a fair enough distraction to keep players from fulfilling their goal.

Anyone who enjoys relaxing or laid-back games will find a lot to like about Time On Frog Island. It has an intensely charming art style and animation, and it manages to capture the feeling of being stranded somewhere strange while it lasts.

Time On Frog Island is an acquired taste but would be enjoyed by most people if during a sale. It is a very tight and lean game that is very focused with what it aspires to do. With a bit more meat on it, Time On Frog Island could be perfect.

Time On Frog Island was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided by Merge Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Time On Frog Island is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch.

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The Verdict: 7

The Good

  • Bouncy animation and pleasant art style give the game an enjoyable aesthetic
  • Distinctive character designs and map layout make it easy to make a mental model of the world
  • Relaxing and cozy ambiance
  • Focused and minimalistic
  • Superbly designed islands that are just the right size

The Bad

  • Too short
  • Gameplay consists mostly of fetch-questing: needed mini-games and a randomizer mode
  • No enterable villager homes


A youth destined for damnation.

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