Game: BROK the InvestiGator
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fighter, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows), Xbox and PS4)
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Teen
Price: US $24.99 | UK £21.99 | EU € 24,99
Release Date: February 28th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to COWCAT.
Over the years, I have come to really admire the developer COWCAT. They’re responsible for the quirky point-and-click adventure Demetrios and the Diabolical Mind Trilogy, which includes three action games playing with the roguelike genre. What sticks out is that this developer is not afraid to attempt something new with each title rather than playing things safe. I have to say I was a little nervous when I saw the pitch for BROK the InvestiGator, though.
A game six years in the making that mixes point-and-click adventure with a beat ’em-up brawling. Like mixing drinks with soup, I was very hesitant about this concoction’s outcome. But as soon as I started playing BROK, those fears were quickly put to rest. BROK is easily the most original and enjoyable game I have played in 2023 so far. This is one not to be missed.
Cyber Punk With Animals
I was instantly sucked into the world of BROK. A cyberpunk setting with animals, where the privileged live in comfort and rest struggle to get by. You play as BROK the alligator. A private detective attempting to make ends meet and take care of the son of his deceased wife, Graff, who you also sometimes control. BROK is still haunted by the loss of his wife; after taking on a new case, his past soon catches up with him, and he must face some challenging internal struggles while wrestling with his investigation.
BROK, as a character, is instantly likeable with a drive to do the right thing for those in need, but also can’t quite catch a break in life. I could not help but route for him. This is how the game portrays BROK, but as the player, you can make moral choices with some NPCs.
In an early chapter, you can choose to forgive a character or not, which appears to affect the relationship later in the game, giving one of many incentives to replay to see how things play out differently. With the plot being such a focus, I won’t spoil too much, but I will say it held my attention, and I was surprised by some of the emotional twists.
Punch and Click
BROK seamlessly interlinks the gameplay of a point-and-click and a brawler. Most of the game is spent in exploration mode, leading to point-and-click aspects. In this setting, you can choose to navigate the world with the button controls or the touch controls in handheld gameplay on Switch. The latter is very responsive. I preferred to go for a hybrid of the two myself. You can then instantly switch to an action mode where your character puts up their dooks and gets ready for a fight. You will usually switch to this automatically when taking on a gang of enemies, but some puzzles in the game require you to switch to this mode to solve.
The brawling itself has a surprising amount of depth to it. Your character has multiple moves, like an uppercut and special moves. You can block and evade incoming attacks and even level up your character allowing your player to choose to upgrade health, attack or your special move. If this just so happened to be a brawler, only these mechanics would stand up well against other brawlers. If brawling is not your thing or you struggle, the game offers a causal mode where you can skip these segments. But I would highly recommend trying it.
The point-and-click design is familiar territory: click around looking for items of interest, combine them with other items and use them in a specific place to advance the plot. If you’re not the biggest fan of point-and-click games or you’re looking for a more casual experience, there are some appealing features. You can hold a button to highlight all items of interest in your current area except for one.
You can find these items called Ads, which are deviously hidden in multiple areas. These act as a currency to the game’s hint system. You can exchange one for a hint if you’re stuck on a puzzle. This is where you might think, ‘I can just go online and use a guide’ that is true. But the developer does provide incentives to track all these collectables down, rewarding the player if you choose to take the time to do so.
Probably the most appealing design of the game’s puzzles is the flexibility for the player. There are multiple solutions to the game’s main puzzles. In some instances, if you’re lazy, you can switch to action mode and punch your way out of the problem. Although if you prefer to take your time and think things through, you can come up with solutions which can even negate the fighting sections entirely, making you feel pretty clever about yourself.
Whatever route you choose, this gives you plenty of reason to jump back into the game for multiple runs to try different moral choices and puzzle solutions, a rare feature in the point-and-click genre. Additionally, you unlock new artwork to enjoy and a plethora of accessibility features tailored to the blind and visually impaired.
It Has Otters
The game is presented with excellent hand-drawn animations which feel reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon. As a cyberpunk fan, I was instantly sucked into the world; well, that and this game features otters which instantly makes this a Game of the Year contender for me. There are small touches I also appreciated, such as reflections of your character in a mirror, something so rarely seen in games today, let alone a point-and-click game.
Performance was great on Switch in TV and handheld modes; the latter did feel the best way to enjoy this to make use of the touch controls. Every character and NPC you meet is fully voice-acted to a high standard. The general tone is quite light-hearted, with plenty of jokey banter with NPCs but also expect some heartfelt moments. A feature I really liked with the dialogue is that the game makes it clear when you have exhausted your choices from an NPC, and if you do happen to have the same chat again, you can skip through it with a push of a button.
Conclusion – Smashing Expectations
I didn’t think the combination of point-and-click and brawler gameplay would work, but BROK the InvestiGator smashed all my cautious expectations. Also, it is a refreshingly original game that provides flexibility to the player, whether you want to enjoy it casually or prefer a more challenging experience.
I myself have become a bit tired of the point-and-click genre, but BROK changed my mind. This is thanks to the creativity and multiple ways to tackle the game’s puzzles. This is probably one of the few games in this genre I see myself easily returning to again. BROK is brilliant overall and easily a contender for Game of the Year. Do not miss this one.
If you still need convincing, there is a free demo prologue to try on Steam.
Final verdict: Two Thumbs Up