I was in my teenage years in the early 90s when the point n’ click adventure genre was king. Studios the likes of Sierra and Lucasarts ruled the decade with their fiendish puzzles, brilliant stories and wonderful characters. Of course, the greatest point ‘n click game was Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. No arguments, that is just a simple fact. Anyway, the point ‘n click genre has had a bit of a resurgence in the last few years. Published and developed by COWCAT comes a modern take on the genre with Brok the InvestiGator.
“Brok is a narrative-driven game that blends action, puzzles and investigation in never-before-seen ways. Will you use your brain… or your brawn?
Brok, private detective and former boxer, lives with Graff, the son of his deceased wife. Although he could never elucidate the nature behind her accident, recent events may shed some light on an even more tragic outcome… one that may be linked to their own existence.
Will they be able to withstand the threats of this corrupted world and face their own destiny?”
So yeah, Brok the InvestiGator is the first ever punch ‘n click game… but what is that exactly? Putting it into basic terms, it’s a point ‘n click game mixed with the beat ’em up genre. But is this truly the first? The first to use the term punch ‘n click, maybe, but definitely not the first point ‘n click game to throw in some fisticuffs action. Just off the top of my head, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure from 1989. You could practice boxing in the opening at the college. Then, you’d put those boxing skills to the test when you could punch the crap out of various Nazis as you made your way through the game.
Semantics aside, Brok the InvestiGator is being labelled as the first ever punch ‘n click game, so let’s go with it. This is how it all works in the game too. Using the tried and tested point ‘n click formula, you play as Brok (and his adopted son Graff, more on him later). Brok is an ex-boxer turned private detective. After an interesting tutorial that gets you used to the controls, as well as setting up a backstory, you receive a call from a client that is the start of the story, which I have no intention of spoiling here.
The controls work as you would expect from any modern-day point ‘n click game. You move Brok through various locations, talk to NPCs, pick up items, find clues and solve many really clever puzzles. But this is a game where you need to use your fists as well as your brain. With a tap of a button, you can swap between adventure mode and action mode. This can be done on the fly at (pretty much) any point in the game. This dual gameplay mechanic plays a big part in just how you will make your way through the game and the kind of detective you will be.
There are some parts of the game where you have no choice but to fight. The fighting here is simple but really well implemented. You have very a basic attack, jump, block and special attack. It isn’t exactly complex but it doesn’t really need to be. The beat ’em up sections work really well and never feel out of place in this point ‘n click adventure title. However, there are other parts where fighting is more of an alternate option. You can sometimes talk your way out of a fight. Fighting is always the simplest solution and the quickest way to make your way through the game and it is mostly up to you which path you take. Do you go in fists flying, or do you decide to use the old noodle more and think your way out of a problem?
One very early example of this comes when you have to gain access to a building. Said building is inaccessible as a shutter blocks your way. There is a keypad that requires the correct number to open that shutter. You can use the keypad properly and input the passcode, once you find it… or you can just punch the crap out of it. There are loads of examples of this in the game and how you chose to play can have an effect on the outcome. Brok the InvestiGator is a title that encourages multiple playthroughs, which for a point ‘n click game, is very unusual. Once you finish one of these games, there is very little reason to return to it because well, you’ve already solved the puzzles and they never change. Here, you can play through the game more than once and try different things.
As I previously mentioned, you play as both Brok and his adopted son, Graff. Whereas Brok is the muscle, Graff is more the brains. The two characters play differently, even though they both use the punch ‘n click gameplay. Graff is a bit weaker than Brok and does not hit as hard either. But he makes up for his lack of strength with his speed. There’s even a light RPG element as you earn EXP after fighting and can level up. Once you do level up, you can pick one of three skills to upgrade. Still, switching to action mode isn’t always about punching. As the characters can jump in action mode, there are some parts of the game where you’ll do some light platforming. Maybe an item will be out of reach, maybe there’s an alternate route that you can take by jumping?
There really is a lot to unpack with Brok the InvestiGator. Outside of the main quest, you can help strangers, play mini-games, look for hidden secrets and more. There’s an in-game hint system but to get a hint, you first need to find ‘ads’. There are three of these ads hidden in each location that you will visit. Some of them are quite easy to find, others much more tricky. As you can only buy a hint using these ads and as there are only three ads at each location (and given the fact that you have to find them first), this does mean that hints are finite. So, you have to use them sparingly. Thankfully, I managed to see the end credits without using a single hint. There were times when I got stumped by a puzzle, but I refused to seek help, I wanted to see how easy or hard this was to finish without the hints. My conclusion was that Brok the InvestiGator is a tough but fair game. Some of the puzzles are most definitely head-scratchers, but they are all solvable with some lateral thinking.
I have been playing Brok the InvestiGator on Xbox and point ‘n click games usually don’t translate well to consoles as these are games best suited to using a mouse. Still, the controls here work very well indeed. You can control the characters directly with the left stick, or you can use the right stick for more of a traditional point ‘n click experience with a pointer and all that. Holding down a button will show everything that can be interacted with on the current screen. This can be very handy if you get stuck or have missed a vital clue. The beat ’em up controls are basic but work very well and never feel out of place.
Brok the InvestiGator is available right now for PC and all the consoles and will set you back around £20. There is a lot of game here and to see the best ending, you will need to play through the game more than once as you will definitely not see and do everything the first time around. With three difficulty settings (a fourth one is unlockable), a good 10-12 hours long story (longer if you get stuck), multiple endings, alternate ways to solve puzzles, decisions to make, adventure and action gameplay mechanics. Brok the InvestiGator offers plenty of gameplay to get your teeth into. The Disney/Saturday morning cartoon art and animation style really gives the game a lot of character too. If you are a point ‘n click adventure fan, then get Brok the InvestiGator on your ‘to play list’. It is one of the best modern point ‘n click games that I have played recently and I’m going right back into it to try different routes and see the different endings.
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