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2023's Most Charming Indie Mystery Game Has Pixelated Pixar Vibes Drenched in Green

The only mystery where the perp is caught green-handed.

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Honeydew sitting in cafe drinking from cup
Froach Club

Imagine detective noir but in a pretty, pixelated green. Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories follows melon factory worker Honeydew and her quest to unravel the mystery left behind by her best friend, Cantaloupe. It’s Froach Club’s second game in the Melon Journey series, but it’s the first one readily available on consoles and the most widely known of the two.

Melon Journey was a small game featuring Honeydew and Cantaloupe on a similar quest to find their lost friend. Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories builds on its foundation, giving players a bigger, greener world filled with anthropomorphic animals. (Note: Honeydew and Cantaloupe seem to be the two exceptions. They aren’t actually rabbit people. Those ears are mandatory uniforms for anyone working at Eglantine Industries.) The result is an endearing adventure that’s something like a mix of a Pixar movie and a Scooby Doo mystery.

Melon Journey takes place in Hog Town, a town that has outlawed melons. Honeydew leaves work early to meet up with her friends Cantaloupe, Strong Dog, and Kitten Princess. Cantaloupe leaves a note asking her to bring his suitcase to Hog Town. Little does Honeydew know, it’s full of melon seeds.

Thus the question that kickstarts the mystery: Why did Cantaloupe ask her to bring a suitcase full of melon seeds? Where is Cantaloupe? Honeydew seeks out the answers to these questions and ends up entangled in other Hog Town drama along the way. Most notably, she interacts with the town’s most infamous gang, the Cavity Crew, and interferes in the election between the Kitten King and the current mayor of Hog Town.

Most of the gameplay involves interacting with objects and unlocking the next part of the story through context clues. For example, Honeydew sets out to find the Cavity Crew after one of their members steals Cantaloupe’s suitcase. That means scrubbing Hog Town for clues on where to find the crew and how to get them to trust you. You might make or break careers and relationships in the process, but that’s part of the fun.

Melon Journey features retro-style pixel art in a melon-hued setting.

Froach Club

Melon Journey is like a Disney, Pixar, or Dreamworks movie in the sense that it’s a silly story that lightly touches upon adult subjects without depressing its audience. It’s got the absurd humor that one would expect from a children’s movie but still gets a chuckle from adult players with the comedic and sometimes heartwarming deliveries. You can’t just help but laugh at some of the lines that poke fun at capitalism and companies that refuse to give raises.

“If we let one person have a 25-cent raise, then everybody will want one, and that’s not fair for you is it?” said Sir Hargreaves III, kitten investor. I bet he’d be really fun at unions.

Melon Journey tells a concise, charming story that never left me feeling stuck or that I wished it would all end soon. I’m the kind of gamer that feels compelled to interact with every object that looks like it’ll spit out a textbox, and I still somehow managed to wrap up the story in 5 to 8 hours. I even completed all the Cavity Crew quests, which delve into the backstories of specific side characters and wrap them into neat, satisfying bundles. I ran into a few crashes, so I’d advise saving after every major story beat. That’s the biggest gripe I had with the game, though.

Melon Journey isn’t an artistic masterpiece that challenges conventional society or gaming itself, but it doesn’t need to be. Just roll, like a melon would, straight into a feel-good mystery,

Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories launches on April 6 for Nintendo Switch, PS 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam.

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