In a world of corruption, robots, and Squealers, one gator will stand against evil. That gator is BROK the InvestiGator, an old-school noir detective in a futuristic world where class divides dictate your path in life, and those in the slums are almost certainly destined to live there forever. It’s like the real world but with anthropomorphic animals and robots.
Brok is a point-and-click detective game paired with a side-scrolling action beat ’em up a la Turtles in Time. It’s styled in a fantastic 90s cartoon way, and if I didn’t know better, I would assume it was based on an existing one. The characters all have the feel of extras in Disney’s animated Robin Hood, the one where everyone pretends they didn’t have a crush on Robin Hood, who was literally a fox.
What’s the Scoop, Brok?
Like any good neo-noir story set in a dystopian future, Brok the InvestiGator begins with a dream sequence where Brok relives the night his wife Lia dies. This serves as a tutorial for the game, allowing Brok to search around his environment for inspiration and objects that can help him and show you the controls.
Today, Brok lives with his stepson Graff in the slum district. A detective by design and a handyman out of necessity, Brok wakes from his nightmare to find multiple missed calls from a prospective client called Sin. Sin is a highly stressed-out cop who has lost his gun somewhere in the Drumer district, the “nice” district where the better off life. Sin needs that gun back and enlists Brok to hunt it down, which is weird because surely he can find it himself. Brok isn’t oblivious to the strangeness of the request, but he needs the money, so he takes the case.
Of course, it isn’t as simple as just finding Sin’s gun. There’s a border control post to contend with, gangs of angry rat outcasts to avoid, and a stepson who needs him as he attempts to pull himself out of the slums with schoolwork. Not to mention that there is more to Sins’ case than meets the eye, and getting involved with his request leads Brok to become wrapped up in a greater conspiracy that affects everyone.
BROK the InvestiGator is an Absolute Delight to Play
As I touched on before, Brok is a point-and-click detective game. Investigating your surroundings thoroughly is essential, even if you’ve been to the location before. Some aspects and uses of objects will only reveal themselves to you after you’ve discovered something else. This goes for talking to people too. Your dialogue choices will impact your relationships and outcomes, and persistence could change the conversation. There’s also the need to find sneakily placed “ads” that act as hints for the puzzles if you need them. There are three to collect in each section. They are small and triangular and look like QR codes. Some are pretty obvious, some not so much. I recommend looking for these little helpers because the hints you find aren’t restricted to the area you see them in. You can use them throughout the game.
There’s also the combat aspect to the game that is so pitch-perfect to early 90s side scrollers that it really feels like it came from that era. It’s simple and effective, and you can practice your pugilism by punching the punching bag in your apartment or heading to your best friend Shay’s bizarre garage of crazy inventions. Shay is an integral part of the story as a prolific technology tinkerer and also as the owner of an illegal underground fighting arena. Brok used to be a boxer, and while he’s a little out of shape these days, he still has the moves.
The characters are all extremely well-fleshed out, and the voice acting is absolutely top-tier. There are a couple of different endings depending on some of the choices you make during the game, so there is also replay value. It’s a delightful story as well as a great gameplay experience. Brok is developed and published by solo French developer Cowcat and is a fantastic achievement. The puzzles are fun to figure out, although some are a tad too convoluted in places, and the combat sections are perhaps too faithful to 90s side-scrollers making it challenging to be precise, but there are very minimal issues. On top of that, the interrogation segments are an excellent way to realize you are the least logical person ever to live. That last thing might just be me, though.
BROK the InvestiGator is out now on Steam and comes to PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch on March 1, 2023