Brok the Investigator Review – Animal Noire

    Title: Brok the Investigator
    Developer: Cowcat
    Release Date: August 26, 2022
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Cowcat
    Genre: Adventure, Beat 'em Up

The life of an investigator isn’t always easy, whether it’s falling for the wrong woman or solving a case without any pay. Brok the Investigator, of course, is no exception, caught in the tensions between the scientists of the high society, the rats that live outside the law, and those whose only concern is to survive. Brok must figure out where his allegiances lay while surviving.

Brok the Investigator has a slow burn in regards to its narrative. For me, I found that the first chapter wasn’t compelling enough. The client is easily seen through, and the case itself is uninteresting, so much so that it was a struggle initially to get through.

However, once I worked past that wall, I was sucked into the mystery of the world and the personal connections to Brok. I found that I cared more about these relationships than the cases themselves, which seemed to serve as a foundation for drama rather than the main attraction. This isn’t to say that the cases aren’t interesting. They just aren’t as compelling as the toll each one takes on Brok’s relationships.

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On an investigation, Brok has two modes that players can switch between, investigation and action mode. Investigation mode plays like an average point-and-click adventure, allowing players to combine items and use them on objects in the environment. Action mode will enable Brok to take his fury not only on NPCs but on objects.

Weaving between the two modes is the key to solving any case. Sometimes, the only way forward is to bash your head or hand against a wall. A few times during my initial run, I ran out of ideas and decided to hit an object, only to find a hidden crack in the wall or knock something loose.

This way of investigating can have its limits since sometimes your fist can’t solve an issue that your brain can’t solve. These moments allow you to purchase a hint using a collectible ad found in the environment. At first, hints will only point players towards an area that Brok should investigate. However, paying more will eventually tell you what to do without ambiguity about the objective.

The hints aren’t infallible, as there were times that I wasted an ad buying a tip that I already knew. This situation didn’t happen often, but each time was unexpected and annoying that I needed to pay for another hint, especially as these are finite.

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Even with the help of these hints, there will be times when talking it out with a suspect isn’t possible, and instead, you will need to let your fists have a few words. All encounters force Brok into action mode, giving him a fighting chance.

These control like a brawler where he will fight enemies before being able to move on. These encounters can be a little shallow as Brok only has access to two combos, one that will launch enemies and himself into the air and another that has him stay on the ground. Fights will also earn him money and experience to level up.

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Leveling up allows players to choose whether they want to deal or take more damage or enhance a special attack, which is only available after Brok has reached fifty percent health. Once achieved, the special meter will slowly fill, allowing players to unleash a barrage of attacks on some unsuspecting enemies.

The issue with these mechanics is that it doesn’t add much, if any, depth to the encounters, as players will still be relying on the same combos. Allowing a more varied combo system would make fights feel fun to go through instead of vaguely like a chore that needs to be done to continue with the story, or even a skill system would go a long way to make combat feel more rewarding. Combat could have been omitted entirely to keep it only as a tool for investigations and exploration.

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Brok the Investigator is a charming take on a classic genre, regardless if the systems don’t play nice with each other. The story has a slow start, and the combat is a bit messy, but those who stick around will discover some great moments of investigation gameplay and memorable character interactions. Brok may not always be the best choice for the job, but the heart that is in this title will keep you engaged.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Nathan Mejia

The guy who will play anything you throw at him. Will talk your ear off about anything and everything Video Game, Music, and Anime related. You have been warned.