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Brok The InvestiGator

28 November, 2023 - 1:35 pm by
About 9 mins to read
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

The life of an investigator can be a difficult one. Long nights, tough cases, complex puzzles to solve. Now imagine that same life, but this time from the perspective of a giant, anthropomorphic alligator. No, no, you heard me correctly – a humanoid, crime busting swamp lizard… Welcome to BROK the InvestiGator!

At A Glance

Brok: The InvestiGator
Positives  + Fun and unique mix of two different gaming styles
+ Great cast of characters and VA talents
+ Awesome, cartoonish art style
Negatives  – Not very difficult
– Slow beginning
Played OnPS5
Also Available OnNintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
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Developed and published by COWCAT Games, Brok the InvestiGator is a delightful mashup of both point-and-click and the beat-‘em-up-style games of old that I know my fellow 90’s kids will appreciate. The game has two modes of operation, investigative and combative, and you can switch between them at will. With Investigative Mode activated, you will explore your various environments, looking for clues and workable leads to further your cases; the point-and-click system giving the player the freedom to dutifully study each item in their surroundings before moving along with the story. The fighting meanwhile leans heavily into the beat-‘em-up genre, where Brok will adopt a fighting stance to let the player know that he is now in ‘Combat Mode’, and that a button press will now yield a violent uppercut rather than delicately pick up that clue you were looking at.

The story of Brok can be… sluggish to begin with. There is a lot of explanation and introduction to get through at the start: we have to meet the characters and gain an understanding of the world we’ve been dropped into, and some might find this slow and a little tedious. Not to say that the world of our friendly neighbourhood investigator isn’t interesting. Set in a dystopian style future, Brok navigates a world quite literally divided, where members of higher society, known as the Drumers, live inside a giant dome where they are safe and protected from the toxic wastelands outside, and the lesser half of the population, the Slumers. Life inside the dome is comfortable and thriving, where animals have access to good jobs and the necessities of life, such as medicine and security. The Slumers, as the name would suggest, live in near-poverty and squalor, a slum rife with crime and gangs and poor living conditions, and each day a struggle to simply survive.

Brok contains six chapters and takes place over the span of three days, with a lot of focus placed on the animals Brok meets and the relationships he forges with them along the way. For example, the relationship between Brok and his adopted son Graff (a teenage cat anthropomorph that also happens to be the only other playable character) is both tumultuous and endearing, with the trauma they have shared throughout their lives bonding them together in a way that little else can. The RPG element of the game really comes into play during these scenarios, with some classic ‘reward and consequence’ depending on how you answer a question or let a scenario play out. Subject to the decisions you make along the way, the relationship between Brok and Graff will either strengthen or deteriorate, clues will be lost or solved, and characters can even die. This lends the game a sense of replayability if you’d like to go back and achieve a better ending than the first time around – and I personally wouldn’t blame anyone who did, as some of the endings can be very bleak indeed.

It doesn’t take long to discover that life isn’t exactly a stroll in the proverbial park for our resident reptile. Like something straight out of your favourite detective show, Brok is a pained soul who struggles with the emotional baggage of losing his wife, living paycheque to paycheque, keeping up with overdue bills, all on top of being a single father to his stepson. Graff, meanwhile, has his own teenage angst going on as he studies hard to leave the Slums behind. His eyes are set firm upon that sweet, luxurious Dome life, whilst also coming to grips with the death of his mother, an absent paternal father, and feelings of neglect from a well-meaning but workaholic step-father. Step-reptilian? You get what I mean…

Between Brok and Graff, you will traverse the post-apocalyptic worldscape, talking to a colourful cast of critters while you gather clues and solve puzzles to try and piece together the game’s mysteries -whether that’s using brain or brawn is largely up to you. When investigating, the player simply moves the cursor around the screen with the right analogue stick, whilst controlling Brok’s side-scroller-esque movements with the left. There are a myriad of different items in any given room that you can interact with, so it’s always worth your while clicking over everything of interest – even if it is just to be told; “Hey! Put that mostly irrelevant [insert item here] down!”. As with any good detective adventure, you’ll encounter a series of puzzles with varying degrees of difficulty, though most of them aren’t too terribly taxing on the brain.

However, if you do find yourself struggling with a particular riddle that’s hindering you from moving forward, you’re in luck! The game offers a hint system, whereby you can find hidden ‘ads’ in each area which you can then use on confuddling conundrums to help surpass them. Once you have gathered all of your clues, using information gleaned from interrogated NPCs and evidence collected from the environment, it’s time to put those detective skills to use as you narrow down your list of suspects and point the long arm of the law at the villain. Be careful who you accuse, however, as each wrong decision can lead you further down the path to a potentially devastating ending!

As far as brawlers go, Brok’s fight mode is pretty straightforward, but certainly still enjoyable. You have a very simplistic list of moves, including punches, kicks, fly-kicks and blocks. You can use weapons in a fight to help shift the odds in your favour, or you can buff up your stats (including health, special attack and strength) by gaining XP and levelling up.  That said, if you’re more pacifist than aggressor – you can set the game’s difficulty to Easy and simply skip any sort of physical altercations altogether! The choice is entirely up to you.

The voice acting in Brok is definitely one of it’s outstanding features. Each anthropomorphic character sounds exactly how they look like they should, with each actor bringing their character to life in ways that I’ve seen big triple A titles fail to implement well. The cast are well sourced, with the leads having worked on a vast number of other games and animated titles to boot. The game’s aesthetic is also very pleasing, it’s bright colours, sharp lines and cartoony artstyle making me feel like a kid again, waking up at the butt-crack of dawn on Saturday morning to sit in front of the TV and watch classic 90s ‘toons like Dexter’s Laboratory. The nostalgia is real, folks.

For anyone yet to pick up this great title by COWCAT, I highly recommend not sitting on it. It may not be the most multifaceted of games, nor the most strenuous, but it has plenty of heart and a ton of character, the story is solid and the investigations are fun to solve. At roughly 14+ hours to complete, it doesn’t require a large commitment, so you can continue to grind those battlepasses (looking at you, Overwatch!) and then wind down at the end of the day with our resident reptilian, BROK the InvestiGator!

In the interest of full disclosure, VGamingNews was provided with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.

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