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Review

BROK The InvestiGator Review

An adventure game with muscle

As someone who grew up in the 90s (technically I was born in the 80s) watching cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Street Sharks, and playing point-and-click adventures and beat ‘em ups, the idea of a game that combines all three of those elements sounds like a dream come true. BROK the InvestiGator from French developer Cowcat is that game, and normally if a developer has ambitious plans of mixing genres it can end up as a hodgepodge of ideas. However, the recipe for BROK is a match made in heaven and one that I hope encourages more adventure game devs to try something outside the box.

Set in a futuristic cyberpunk city where the air is polluted and animals have replaced humans, society is split into two classes – the fortunate, known as Drumers who live under the safety of the dome, and the unfortunate, known as Slumers who live in the slums struggling for survival. Brok is a former boxer turned private detective who lives in the Slums with Graff, a student and the son of his deceased wife.

BROK and Graff aren’t exactly living the high life

One morning Brok gets a call from a police officer needing help locating his lost weapon, a case that he accepts and one that leads to Brok uncovering a much more sinister plot. While animals may have replaced humans, robots (known as Tribots) are also a prominent part of society, one that Brok doesn’t trust as much as others. Brok has noticed that the Tribots have been acting strangely of late, along with the Squealers – a gang of rats that lurk in the Slums. Are they all connected to what is happening? Brok will need to get to the bottom of it before it’s too late.

Life is tough for both Brok and Graff, with the former struggling to understand the death of his wife, as well as making ends meet and providing any sort of stable parenting, while Graff dreams of life as a Drumer but also feels alone without either of his parents around. With a fully-voiced cast, the game attempts to tell a rather relatable and touching story and is largely successful at doing so. Brok’s struggles as a parent and Graff’s constant feelings of neglect make for not only an interesting dynamic, but some heartfelt moments.

On the surface, a point-and-click beat ‘em up sounds like a bit of a head-scratcher, but the way Cowcat has fused the two gameplay styles feels seamless and it works a treat. Brok can walk around all locations by using the controller’s left thumbstick, while the right acts as the mouse cursor for Brok to inspect areas or items of interest. When Brok needs to put his fists to work or jump to elevated areas, the player simply pushes Y on an Xbox controller to toggle between action and investigate modes.

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The investigative sequences of BROK play out like your typical point-and-click. Brok will explore his surroundings, talk to NPCs and uncover clues that will help him solve whichever case he’s working on. Items you acquire may have additional uses such as for solving puzzles or use in combat. Of course, puzzles play a big part in BROK and they vary in difficulty, although outside of a couple, they’re all fairly simple to work out. Some puzzles can simply be beaten by Brok’s fists, but if you do get stuck you can get hints by collecting Ads scattered across the world.

Shercroc Holmes

On the surface, a point-and-click beat ‘em up sounds like a bit of a head-scratcher, but the way Cowcat has fused the two gameplay styles feels seamless and it works a treat

There is also a Sherlock Holmes­-esque interrogation sequence that will require Brok to piece together clues to complete his investigation and come to a conclusion about what went down. Players are then given the option of choosing who the culprit is – a decision that you can get wrong. However, these aren’t the only decisions you’ll make in the game and at times you’ll need to choose what objectives to pursue, which can impact the ending.

Action mode, on the other hand, will see Brok participate in some good old-fashioned donnybrooks. Whether it’s against Tribots, Squealers or another opponent, Brok’s former years as a boxer have made him the perfect muscle to take down whoever gets in his way. The fighting reminds me of old-school brawlers such as Streets of Rage, with Brok only having a simple moveset, but regardless the action is still a joy to play. Not only can Brok punch and kick his way through enemies, but he can also block, use items he has acquired to either increase damage or throw at opponents, and can utilise a special attack that will deal a heavy blow. Brok can also use consumables that will increase his strength, fill his special attack meter, replenish health and more. At the end of each fight sequence, players will acquire currency and XP. Each time BROK levels up you’re able to upgrade Brok’s health, strength or special attack. However, if you’re a lover and not a fighter, setting the game’s difficulty at Easy will skip the combat, letting you focus on investigating.

At night when Brok isn’t playing detective, he partakes in some VR fighting sessions for some extra coin organised by his tech-junkie friend Shay. These play out like mini beat ‘em up levels with a boss fight of sorts at the end. Furthermore, players will also to play as Graff from time to time, as he completes his studies and kicks some arse. These sequences are neat and help players establish a connection with Graff, but one or two do feel like they drag on and serve little purpose outside of padding out the runtime to 15+ hours.

Making the Squealers squeal

The other aspect of BROK that helps it stand out is the banging 90s cartoon-inspired aesthetic. Character designs and facial animations are all excellent and feel straight from the golden era of cartoons. Even the moving and fighting animations are excellent. Cowcat has put a lot of hard work into making this look and feel like a playable cartoon and they have absolutely nailed it.

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Featuring multiple endings that lend itself to replayability, when you do roll credits you’ll be treated to a flowchart that will give you a breakdown of the choices you made and how many others made the same choice. It’s always a cool insight seeing if you played it safe or otherwise, and when I have time I am keen to go back and rectify some of my mistakes.

The 90s cartoon-inspired art style is incredibly on point

Final Thoughts

The point-and-click genre has been deprived of innovation for years, and while it doesn’t need to change all that much, Cowcat has successfully mixed two gameplay styles that wouldn’t normally fit together. The result is a love letter to my childhood and a truly unique adventure game experience that fans of the genre should not miss.

Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

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BROK The InvestiGator Review
Gator Aid
The mix of point-and-click and beat ‘em up gameplay with a 90s cartoon aesthetic makes BROK the InvestiGator a unique adventure game that should not be missed.
The Good
Innovative spin on the adventure genre
Clever puzzle design
Incredible 90s cartoon aesthetic
Some heartfelt story moments
Multiple endings for replayability
The Bad
A couple sequences drag on for a little too long
9
Bloody Ripper
  • COWCAT
  • COWCAT
  • PC
  • August 27, 2022

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BROK The InvestiGator Review
Gator Aid
The mix of point-and-click and beat ‘em up gameplay with a 90s cartoon aesthetic makes BROK the InvestiGator a unique adventure game that should not be missed.
The Good
Innovative spin on the adventure genre
Clever puzzle design
Incredible 90s cartoon aesthetic
Some heartfelt story moments
Multiple endings for replayability
The Bad
A couple sequences drag on for a little too long
9
Bloody Ripper
Written By Zach Jackson

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

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