REVIEW: Bureau: Kendall Rising

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.

Bureau - Kendall Rising - Screen

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.

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20 thoughts on “REVIEW: Bureau: Kendall Rising”

  1. I quite like it. Good production values, good music. Puzzles are ok. Keeps you entertained for a good while. Not massively original or moving the genre forward but then again how many AAA games actually do that? Main protagonist isn’t very realistic but neither are most celebrities. You can see the work that went into this.

    1. I agree on the work. No easy process to make a game with this much content, most of it visual. A lot of that content is reused, though, from the original game / sequel. I can appreciate the fact that it IS a remake, and the developer wanting to find a new audience or squeeze a few more dollars out of the game, but this isn’t exactly the kind of stuff that warrants a serious second look or reboot. Just my opinion, of course. Others might find otherwise / feel different. 🙂

    2. Yes they did reuse a lot. What can I say? Liked the first game so liked this. Great site BTW, really appreciate the fact that xblig games are still getting proper attention. Do you plan to start reviewing for xbone?

    3. Thanks! Some would say I’m crazy to focus solely on the XBLIGs, but there’s some real gems in there that might go unnoticed if I (and others) didn’t bring it to their attention. It’s time is winding down, of course…

      …which means I’ll eventually have to move on. Not sure what my plans are for XbOne yet. First I’ll need an Xbox One (I went PS4 to start this generation), and then I’ll need a clever new website name (‘theXbone.com’ maybe, though it sounds like a porn site, that does).

      Everything’s eventual, though. I’m curious to see how the Xbox One Indies will take shape this time. They’ve got some things lined up for March, I think, though they’re from what I would consider ‘larger’ indie studios. I want to see what former and current XBLIG devs get up to on there, and how Microsoft handles the scene.

    1. Oh great, another ‘award’ I’ll have to completely ignore. Damn it, people of the world! I refuse to accept that I am a ‘blog’, therefore I insist on my right to completely reject all blogging awards!

      I may still answer those questions, however, just for kicks. 🙂

    2. Oh god, I totally know what you mean about “blog”! I ain’t a “blog”, people, I am a website, and if they won’t won’t bother making the distinction, then they can kindly thread a wire coat hanger so far up their urethra, the fact that I’ve wired it up to a car battery is the least of their worries!

      On a related note, my therapist is advising anger management classes.

    1. Partially. With the bulk of the game still being text, you could probably consider it more of a ‘visual novel’ than point-and-click. Could be worse, yes, but should be a whole lot better. 🙂

  2. No matter how hot Kendall looks I still haven’t been sucked (he he the little boy in me just made a joke in my head [Noooooo I didn’t just say suck head thinking of Kendall]) into this series. I have tried a few of the trials but due to how clunky it feels I couldn’t bring myself to “POP” for it.

    OK back to adolescents for me is over.

    1. Teenagers’ll love it, no doubt, for the girl-on-girl stuff. You’re not missing anything, but I suppose if I were to find a silver lining, it’d be to say that this is the cheapest introduction to the series, and more streamlined than the original.

      Save the money and take Edgar Alan’s advice; watch Alan’s hilarious Let’s Plays of the game and look forward to future episodes from him.

    2. Oh, I have no doubt. I’m anything but an artist, and I could do better stuff with stick figures.

      Though given your recent trend towards dick jokes and dicks in general, I picture you as a young Jonah Hill from Superbad, doodling dicks in class.

      All in jest, good sir.

    3. Actually. replace “pictures of dicks” with “pictures of Daniel from ‘Amnesia: The Dark Descent’ riding Mandus from ‘Machine For Pigs’ side-saddle and bashing pig monsters with a sceptre that looks like his own head” and that’s pretty accurate.

      Not even kidding.

    4. I can’t unread that comment.
      Dangnabbit.

      Also, happy remember that we are alone and time mocks our solitude by making this same day a celebration of love called valentines which was cruelly subverted in the 1920s by mobsters day.

    5. Ah, look at it as ‘just another day’. And if not, then consider yourself your own valentine, as we all have not met anyone more beautiful or perfect than ourselves. 🙂

      ….Damn, that sounds cheesy as hell, but I wouldn’t mind seeing that on a Hallmark card. Although, that’s a bad way to look at it too. Capone never loved anyone more than himself, and look how that worked out for most people that came into contact with him.

  3. Coincidentally, Alan from the Indie Ocean (AKA “The Nolan North Of XBLIGs”) recently announced that he will be doing a Let’s Play of the second game in the series. So I’d recommend keeping an eye on his youtube channel, his first series was hilarious.

    1. The Nolan North of XBLIGs! Ain’t that the truth! 🙂

      As much as I enjoy watching him play anything, it’ll be a nice change of pace for him to give the roguelikes a break and slip into the likes of ‘Shattered Slipper’.

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