Is COWCAT mad – mixing up genres to disorientate us? Mad or genius, you can decide for yourself, but BROK The InvestiGator Prologue is an intriguing title that deserves to be on your gaming radar.
First, no questions asked, it’s a point and click. But it’s also a beat ’em up. Hold on: beat ’em up? Yeah, boi, this game fuses the classic pointy adventure with a brawling croc that is absolute lunacy, but works!
One of the immediate charms about this game is not my evident bias for a point and click, but the character design and animation are brilliant. Brok already has a legion of admirers as the extras in the game include lots of fan art.
BROK The InvestiGator Prologue Preview
Where to begin? Let’s try the start. You’re in a room, surrounded by fire and your loved one remains trapped, blaming you for it all. Fortunately, it’s a bad dream but may indicate a bit of a back story for ol’ Brok.
First of all, he’s a private eye and alligator, not that that’s a thing, but he also moonlights as a handyman. Or is it the other way as he gets more plumbing work than investigatory tasks. That’s a good thing, as while Brok is likeable in the short time you spend with him, he’s not a very good detective. Equally, he isn’t able to fix many of the objects encountered and quite a bit heavy-handed.
It also doesn’t help that his memory is failing him a bit either, but that’s an excellent tool for exposition and sneaky tutorials. The controls in BROK The InvestiGator Prologue aren’t particularly hard, and there are three options available to you: mouse, mouse and keyboard and controller, it’s the getting used to them that’s the challenge.
Playing predominantly with the mouse, clicking an area on the screen will have him walk to a location, or run with a double-tap, followed by the usual interactions with NPCs and picking up items then combining them for a classic point and click illogical solution. But scroll on the mouse wheel and Brok switches to fight mode.
Flight Of The NaviGator
It isn’t difficult to switch to the fighting mode, and you do it more often than would be expected as hitting an object can sometimes offer a solution. There are difficulty modes accounted for, so if you want a challenge, it’s there, happy for a story? that too.
With the story option, it’s more tailored to adventurers as though you still get into scraps, you can skip scenes. It’s a nice option to have if you get stuck but defeats the purpose for the genre and honestly, it’s sometimes a bit too tempting to steamroll a section. Be warned: you can die in the game, like the good ol’ Sierra ones.
The brawling in BROK The InvestiGator Prologue was pretty basic, but I wasn’t expecting a beat ’em up, so it offered a decent alternative. However, with a little further progression, you unlock an area where you can hone your skills and the fighting shifts from left mouse clicking to numerous keystrokes.
Nothing complicated, mind, but Brok can perform a power punch, dodge, and even unleash a special move which attacks all enemies on screen. Eventually, with these additional keys, I shifted to the keyboard and mouse, and it was a massive improvement – not that the mouse mode option is bad.
With each fight, Brok can pick up coins to play mini-games, items and unlock the stuff in the extras menu, but more importantly, he attains XP that can be invested in his HP, strength and the duration of his special moves.
Though not entirely necessary if you play in the easiest mode (experimented with this to encourage the fam to play), there’s a difference with increments with the strength stat as you can finish enemies off faster. It’s much easier than one of COWCAT’s other games, Demon’s Tier+.
But the real meat and potatoes is the adventure and story, for me, at least. Brok has been hired by a policeman to locate his gun that he appears to have ‘misplaced’ in a drunken stupor. As an investigator, Brok learns a bit more about his client, but that’s for you to find out…
The places of interest are relatively limited and can be accessed through a world map. Interacting with NPCs is the usual setup. You don’t have a dialogue tree, but you can select from several subjects that appear as an image on the screen, unlocking more as you uncover clues.
See Ya Later, Aligator
The artwork in BROK The InvestiGator Prologue is really nice and clearly influenced by the likes of Disney and Don Bluth. Some characters resemble the Mouse House quite a bit, but that’s more as a compliment.
Don’t expect the animation to be on par with a feature for an indie game, but the animation is excellent. It’s currently in development still, but even in this current state, it looks great. The scenery is a little uninspiring in places and reminded me of The Jetsons back on the Amiga (take that, game historians!) but the key point is the characters, accompanied by some fun voice acting.
As one would expect, some of the puzzles are quite tricky and knowing what to do can be a challenge, even in the limited locations. There are hints scattered about through the placement of ads, but you have to find three of them before unlocking, and in many cases, finding them is even more challenging than it should be.
But BROK The InvestiGator Prologue and his future endeavours are promising. As mentioned, with the coins you accumulate, you can unlock fan art, concept art and audio. This was a great incentive as I’m a big fan of illustration and the behind the scenes. Coincidentally, COWCAT streamed on YouTube a while back the development process, and I just so happened to tune in and got a glimpse behind the curtain and further piqued my interest in Brok.
BROK The InvestiGator Prologue taps into a bit of nostalgia along the way – not because it covers two very cool genres, but the accuracy in bringing back an 80s/90s vibe when TMNT was still cool. It almost feels like this is a lost franchise from the era and I recommend you play this free demo/prologue, then wishlist for when the full game is released in 2021.
The game will be available on PC via Steam, GOG and Itch.io, PS4/5, Xbox X/S and Nintendo Switch.