One of the common, early complaints that was thrown at Adventure Games is they didn’t have enough action.
For all the great stories games like King’s Quest and Toonstruck told, because these games didn’t have you bouncing between platforms or smashing people’s heads together, they weren’t making the big bucks or basking in the limelight.
Later on, games like Full Throttle and Curse of Monkey Island added in some sections that deviated from the traditional formula with bike and ship battles, but they were relatively timid in their nature and could be easily skipped. Point being, they were never taken that seriously.
But no game has gone for quite the same approach as BROK the InvestiGator which is, quite literally, half point and click adventure and half Streets of Rage.
The immediate questions you’re probably asking yourself is how does that work and does it work? The answer is quite well and surprisingly yes.
Big lad Brok is a private investigator (see what they did there?) who takes on cases to pay his bills and keep a roof over his head. So, as you might expect that requires him to stomp around, asking lots of inquisitive questions, dressed up in a purple hat and long trenchcoat.
He can share his inventory items with those animals to get their thoughts, reflect on the whole conversation with an internal monologue, and quiz them on individual subjects until they’re completely exhausted.
From there, Brok can study his surroundings, pick things up, use items together, and try to get clues on his next steps by studying his phone, reading messages, and where needed, using hints.
But sometimes wits will only take him so far. Which is where you can tap a button and essentially switch Brok to action mode. He can throw fists, kicks, block and dash in order to fight through robots and adversaries who are blocking his objectives.
Brok can level up, boosting his health and strength, but he can also be knocked out and even killed, which is where using healing items becomes really important, as well as timing your blocks and moving out of dodge.
But it’s not all fighting either as Brok can jump between platforms and sprint between obstacles, avoiding deadly laser beams, spikes and other obstacles.
This is a complete 50/50 experience. A hybrid adventure game that actually comes together really well and flows quite naturally. The combat is surprisingly tight, immediately calling to mind classic Streets of Rage side-scrolling gameplay.
It can get a bit frustrating, at times. Enemies hounding you like hornets and moving up and down to get out of the way of projectiles sometimes doesn’t move quickly enough or you’re being ambushed to make your life difficult.
There’s a balance and variety of settings to tailor the experience to your needs. You can also skip combat entirely if you want to, or really dial it up to make things super difficult. But even on the low-end, the game can be really tricky to manage at times.
I didn’t feel it played as well on mouse and keyboard and really is better experienced with a controller. And fairly, adventure purists may ask, that defeats the point of it being a point and click adventure, doesn’t it?
To be honest, if the incessant clicking of the mouse to punch doesn’t annoy you, then trying to use the two different outputs simultaneously that certainly don’t flow as well as an FPS will probably push you to an analog or D-Pad fairly quickly.
All that said, Brok plays really well and even has a well put together story that feels like Zootopia blended with Stray and Blacksad as you strike up conversations with rats, pandas, cats, and everything else inbetween.
In this semi cyberpunk world, animals have completely replaced humans as the dominant lifeform under a protective dome that keeps them away from ambient air pollution. In this world, Brok is plagued by memories of his wife’s accident through dreams and nightmares, all while trying to do right by their son. But the circumstances surrounding the incident may have more far-reaching influences that explain the situation the animals are in.
And as you speak to creatures, visit new locations, and even start to switch with another player character, you get a variety of perspectives to learn from and a really well shaped, sculpted view of this unique world to really familiarise you and anchor you into its reality.
We’d also be completely remiss not to mention the stunning comic-book art style that just pops on the screen, with Brok’s facial expressions changing with each line of dialogue, the smooth frame rate and transition between modes, and even the voice acting which is just wonderfully executed.
BROK is a really well written character in a world that is rich, thoughtful and well laid out. The artstyle is stunning, the characters really come to life through voice acting and the hybrid gameplay works really, surprisingly well. Some clunkiness, presentation and puzzle frustration aside, this is a great point (punch?) and click adventure you really should take a chance on.
+ Beautiful comic book style brought to life by great voice acting
+ Surprisingly well implemented hybrid mechanics compliment each other well
+ A good, well-written story
– Controls can be clunky if not using controller
– Some puzzles / action sequences got frustrating quite quickly
BROK the InvestiGator is out now on all formats.
Code Kindly Provided by Cowcat