Oh, Agent Kendall, just when I thought I’d seen the last of your strange mannequin face and impossibly-proportioned body, you pull me back in. In a, shall I say, unexpected move, developer Twist-ed Games has decided to remodel… er, remake, the first Agent Kendall game, titling it Bureau: Kendall Rising ($1.00). And I say unexpected to mean Why?, as the original was a bad sort of good. Or was it a good sort of bad?
Or maybe, just bad altogether. Short animated clips strung together by longer static shots, most of them replayed every time you revisit a location / character. Lengthy, nonsensical blocks of dialogue, a bizarre cast, gratuitous shots of Kendall and Holly (a nudist and high-priced escort, but also aspiring teacher?) in skimpy, or non-existent, outfits. Those items were all hallmarks of the first game, and, well, they’re all back again. Like it or not. Oh, and it’s fully voice-acted now, with the acting ranging from ‘just okay’ to ‘terrible’. Sadly, the developer didn’t ask The Indie Ocean’s Alan to play all the parts, which is a huge loss for them.
Gameplay is set at the bare minimum, and still only consists of very ‘light’ investigation work. Pointing and clicking, finding obvious clues in the environments, questioning suspects / witnesses, doing background checks, that sort of thing. You can then review your current progress, travel to new locations, and report back to the still-creepy-to-look-at Agent Kyler. There are QTE moments where you’ll have to shoot (or not shoot) certain individuals, but they’re few and far between.
So what has changed? On the visual side, some animations are new, others are borrowed from previous games in the series. Twist-ed Games has retooled the investigative parts of the game, cleaning up the UI and cutting out the more text-heavy, boring side expositions, to focus on the plot. Even if that plot is still dreadfully dull and improbable. I’m not an FBI agent, have never taken a law enforcement test or much-explored the idea of fighting crime (my time as the Caped Crusader was brief, and entirely in my head), yet I’m almost positive that nothing written in or shown in Bureau: Kendall Rising is legit.
The FBI’s dress code is ‘beach casual’.
Agent Kendall herself is a caricature. She plays it stuffy and very serious one moment, then gladly strips and spends the night with her chief suspect the next. Forget all the federal protocols she’s breaking, she’s frisky like that. The case you’re working on isn’t any better, involving an anti-extremist extremist (yeah, you figure it out) and fake whiskey. It’s as stimulating as it sounds. You can also pretty much ‘solve’ the crime a few days in advance, leaving yourself to suffer through banal interrogations that won’t ultimately lead to anything else, since you’re merely waiting for the story to catch up to you. There are multiple endings to shoot for, but odds are you won’t be tempted to replay the game to see them.
In the end, Bureau: Kendall Rising is better than its original source material, and cheaper, but that’s not much of an endorsement. Minus the eye candy (the reason most will even download it) it’s still a slow-moving chore, done in by its ridiculous plot. You could probably tell yourself a more interesting story with sock puppets, and just add in all the awkward and unnecessary sock-on-sock action you can handle.