In a dystopian reality where humans are long gone and animals take our place governed by robots. Where the rich stay safe in domes and the poor rot in the polluted, outside gases, where is any justice? Point and punch your way through and discover the secrets and lies that lay as foundation for a society far past human ideals. Join this killer croc, Brok, and his stepson, Graff, in a timeless, choice-based, fully voice-acted adventure with multiple endings and countless hours of playtime.
Enjoy a beautiful combination of beat ’em-up and point-and-click that you never knew you needed until now. Find clues and bring criminals to justice while also surviving another day in the slums. Solve puzzles (that may need a little fine-tuning), click and collect items, and help others along the way. Dig up clues and find out what truly happened on that fateful day, the day Brok’s wife died. What caused the fire, how did society grow so dependent on automatons, and is Brok really an alligator? Use your detective skills and find the smoking gun to unravel the web of lies in BROK the InvestiGator.
BROK the InvestiGator is available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, Playstation, and Xbox Series X/S for $24.99 USD.
This review contains minor spoilers for BROK the InvestiGator.
Story – The Ashes of the Past
Set in a gloomy, cyberpunk world where people rely on placebo meds and robots, our story starts with the outsiders. Down in the harsh poverty-stricken district, known as the Slums live, Brok: a private investigator and former boxer. Along with him lives Graff, Brok’s deceased wife’s son, who attends school in the rich, bubbled community with dreams of leaving the Slums. Picking up our magnifying glass, we begin our tale with a house fire.
Brok wakes up in a mysterious building engulfed in flames, unaware of how he got there. After clicking on objects to help in your escape and fighting rogue robots, we end up in a bedroom. Amidst the embers and destruction around, lay Brok’s wife, Lia, clinging to life while trapped under debris. However as strange as everything is, it gets even stranger when Lia begins to berate Brok, calling him a murderer. In the end, Brok can’t free Lia and decides to die with her as the building collapses. That is of course until he wakes up, realizing that it was not only a nightmare but a painful memory- though he wasn’t actually there when it happened.
Nobody knows what truly happened that day. However, we receive a call from a new client as Brok awakes, six in fact. Little did Brok know though, this call would jumpstart a whole new saga of events that can finally shed light on Lia’s demise. The disturbed client beckons Brok’s help on a new case, and thus the game truly begins.
Plot Holes – The Dystopian Illusion
For a game that reminds the player of the melancholic atmosphere, the actual gameplay tarnishes the flow of the story. Throughout BROK the InvestiGator, they tell us how strict the robotic authority is in the bubbled communities. It’s either exile to the slums or basically death row if you mess up in their dome. The rats we meet in the sewer even explain how heavily monitored the bubble is- where if they step outside, they could get instantly arrested. However, we the player break and destroy many government bots and take no consequence. There’s one mission where we literally beat up robots in front of surveillance outside of the dome border, yet still are permitted access inside.
The story sets up a perfect plot of a dystopian society where you’re kicked to the curb if you break their rules. However, the actual story just breaks the immersion. Police bots claim acts of defiance will result in the elimination of the subject, but will not actually do anything if you just break them. It is as if the government simply forgot you broke their expensive hardware.
Yes, a beat ’em-up story is hard to write with a strict environment in mind. If that were the case, hoards of bots would come once you’ve destroyed others. Instead, I think there could’ve been a workaround for such glaring holes to preserve immersion. In fact, the game literally gives us a device that deactivates electronic devices (which in it of itself introduces more plot holes), but we never use it for things such as security systems. I find that to be such a missed opportunity to excuse the lack of severe consequences.
Gameplay – Punch-and-Click!
As for the gameplay itself, I was continuously impressed with even the littlest details (more on that in the Graphics section of this review). The game revolutionizes the Point-and-Click genre, combining it with a genre that not many people would think of. It’s a beautiful blend of beat ’em-up and point-and-click controls with a hint of detective puzzles that kept me awestruck and wanting more. You won’t regret such an enjoyable experience, though they need to adjust the puzzle confusion.
Starting out with the point-and-click aspect, we can explore areas, talk to people, and find items to aid in our journey. It’s the standard norm in regard to mechanics really. Just hover the cursor over an object in the background, interact with it, and experience funny dialogue. Whether it be used for clicking things with or giving it to someone, sometimes the object you find can be collected and used later. It’s like how in Until Dawn where you collect items that could save a character’s life, albeit it’s a little less dire here. Though, aside from that I love how this game includes a “Show all interactables” button so you know if you searched the room fully without missing anything.
The beat ’em-up aspect of the game is also pretty traditional, where you punch through the hoard of enemies to advance toward the end. Throw objects, use food to survive, fight back using special moves, the typical though, the dodge feels pretty useless. You still take damage regardless, it’s hard to control and it can put you out of position. Nonetheless, the genre does fit the overall story of crime fighting which, as most beat ’em-ups tend to lead into. It’s not a bad thing to follow the norms, it just makes the game feel a little generic. However, this is where BROK the InvestiGator truly shines. The two gimmicks, done purposefully, are both generic to the genre but interact fantastically with each other.
A Revolutionary Blend!
Combining the two aspects together forms something that has not been seen in any game like it. It’s such a brilliant mix of the two. Not to mention, the game handles their coexistence amazingly to the point where they cannot move on without each other. The game allows you to switch between point-and-click and beat ’em-up at any time, which allows for wonderfully creative level design. For example, you need to collect an object, but it’s stuck behind a glass wall. In typical point-and-clicks, you’d have to find a way around it, maybe by finding an object to break the glass. However, in this game, you could switch to fight mode and literally punch the glass.
Even outside of that, the game continues to awe me with this mixture. In fact, the items you collect through your journey by clicking can then be used in punch mode and offer a variety of benefits in fights. You can use the remote from earlier to deactivate robot enemies, use a stick to deal more damage than a fist, or even throw your trusty magnifying glass.
Expect the Unexpected
The game also has a multitude of interactions that quite literally shocked me because I never expected it to have this level of complexity. For instance, I was just horsing around, smacking things with my fist without thinking much of it. But then, I punched Graff and literally caused him to hate Brok and lock himself in his room. Then I proceeded to break the environment around me, which actually stays broken in some cases.
Most games in these genres will just ignore your shenanigans, but this game embraces them and actively encourages them. The game expects you to try these things. When you do, however, it throws you off guard completely. The developers literally thought of almost everything and made dialogue based on it. Much like people underestimating Brok, if you go in and underestimate it, you will surely be surprised. The possibilities are quite literally endless with this game. That’s not even mentioning the multiple endings, choice-based decisions, and puzzles…
Absurd Detective Puzzles
Speaking of which, we need to talk about the puzzles. I kid you not, you need to genuinely be a world-renowned detective to solve these. Regardless of what difficulty you pick, the puzzles remain the same with some even bypassable in fight mode. However, some of the puzzles are a bit too difficult for the way they’re structured. Thankfully, they’re not all like this and I even had fun solving some. But the ones that really stump you can really get you down because they just don’t explain what to do.
To aid this though, there are collectible ads you can find in cursor mode that acts as hint tokens. However, their hints aren’t necessarily hints. You get two per puzzle, one that actually acts as a hint and another that blatantly tell you the answer. This should’ve been three hints instead to ease into the answer if you really need that final hint. The game even hides three hint ads per room, giving you a surplus if you’re really that stuck. For the more stubborn people, like myself, good luck beating this game hintless.
Finally, the climax of any detective case is the interrogation. In this game, we sleuth around by asking people and clicking on objects to collect clues. For our first case, we head back to our client and show our evidence. We then combine two pieces of clues together to draw conclusions and find the truth. These segments are actually quite enjoyable, allowing you to piece together the mystery and solve the case. It’s much like the classic Phoenix Wright, but on a smaller scale.
Graphics and Sound – A Killer Caper
For a game with an impressive gameplay experience, the art and sound elevate it further. The design of everything radiates the feeling of an old ’90s cartoon, which coincidentally is their main inspiration. The graphics far surpassed my expectations, impressing me with even the littlest of details. Things like accurate lip-syncing in a character’s speech, working reflections, and beautifully designed landscapes all kept me wanting to explore more and more.
Not to mention, the game really loves to improve on ideas from their respective genres. On top of the typical crouch animation to consume food in beat ’em up games, we have a charming animation that plays if the food is in our inventory. This alone adds a level of strategizing for a player as you could get punched out of the animation and drop the food, rendering yourself vulnerable, which is in addition to a well-crafted consume animation!
Danger Around Every Corner
On top of animations and overall design that’s pleasing to the eyes, we have a sound design that makes you step into the mind of a true detective. Picture this, as you walk around the harsh slums, collecting clues to solve a case that could make or break your client’s future, you can’t help but feel a sense of determination. A somber vibe fills you as you piece together another mystery, with a sense of tragedy always around the corner. No one is born a killer after all. The music design of this game wonderfully encapsulates the life of a detective, while also catering to Brok as a loving father in search of justice. It mixes the caring nature of a dad trying to do his best for his son, with a cold exterior of a detective who trusts no one.
To top it off, when things get really out of hand for our faithful croc, the music follows suit with its intensity. The fight music in particular is phenomenal, reminding me of other beat ’em-up titles that have an upbeat tempo as you fight. That’s not even counting the fully voice-acted experience the game has. The game has remarkable voice casting. The actors hired all fit their characters to a tee, making all the characters feel more lively.