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Saturday 7 March 2015


Bureau 13 is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Take-Two Interactive and released to the European PC market by GameTek in 1995. At the time, it received mixed reviews, praising its then state-of-the-art graphics and its few unique mechanics, while bemoaning the dull script and dubious voice acting.

The titular bureau is a top-secret government organisation tasked with discretely investigating 'dangerous paranormal entities' on American soil. During the opening mission briefing, we learn that one of their agents has gone rogue and has attempted to assassinate a local sheriff, leading our team to track him down discreetly so as not to alarm the town's residents.

The game was based on the pen and paper RPG designed by Tri-Tac Systems, however very few of its mechanics have travelled over in digital form; this is very much an adventure game and not an RPG. One of the elements carried over is the ability to choose two agents from a selection of playable characters, including a Priest, a thief, a hacker, a vampire, a white witch and, most bizarrely, a scantily clad Native American woman named Delilah Littlepanther in a massive mech suit.

Each character has their own unique abilities, for example, the thief can silently pick a lock to enter into a house, whereas the mech can simply - and in keeping with the mission briefing - bash the door down. The Witch also has a limited supply of magic, with each spell costing a certain amount of points to use. However, with a total of 200 points at your disposal, you're unlikely to deplete your reserves unless you're particulerly wasteful.

Despite the era's fascination with the paranormal thanks to a little show called The X-Files, the game only sold modestly. Maybe this 'discreet' organisation's employment of such an inconspicuous group didn't connect with audiences as much as a couple of mismatched FBI agents seen our television screens.

As you can probably tell, there's an unintentional sense of humour running throughout the adventure, from the sober narration, the comically unprepared agents with no resources beyond their character traits to the uninspired soft-rock permeating its soundtrack. Is this agency so strapped for cash that they cannot afford the 25 cents for a newspaper, having to find the money conveniently sitting in the vending machine's coin slot? Better yet, why not let Littlepanther loose and just destroy the thing - no need for money then. Come to think of it, why would this agency with access to top-secret documents need to get its information from a daily tabloid in order to progress?

This all leads to a game that is highly enjoyable in its sheer stupidity, a trait that is most likely its number one reason for it finding itself stored in the vaults. The over-the-top characters, constant stilted narration, and charmingly cheesy multi-solution puzzle design lend this a B-Movie feel - the Plan 9 From Outer Space of computer games.

The game's deviation from its source's role-playing roots must've also played a factor in its descent into obscurity, disappointing an established if small fan base. This was at a time when adventure gaming was one of the most popular genres on the computer gaming market but even so, Bureau 13 would not have been able to compete amongst the revered likes of Discworld and Full Throttle both of which came out in the same year. These games that have aged far more kindly than the primitive computer-generated pre-rendered graphical style Take-Two decided to adopt.

With this in mind, I grant Bureau 13 a pardon, barely scraping a release from the Chamber's vaults.

Do you not agree? Is the unique charm not enough to overcome the many flaws? Let me know in the comments.

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 7 and Windows 10.
  01.07.2015 - Version 2 - Improved installer.
  02.05.2016 - Version 3 - Compressed CD Audio

File Size: 163 Mb.  Install Size: 317 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Bureau 13 is © Take-Two Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

Like this? Try These...

Nocturne  Retrun of the Phantom  The X-Files: Resist or Serve


  1. I still own the cd of this game but with no cdrom drive on my new PC a lot of good that did me. Thank you for making this available again

  2. I remember playing this back in the day, but I lost the CD around the time I went to college. I remember expecting more of an RPG or a RPG/Adventure hybrid like Quest for Glory because of the character select feature and being pretty disappointed it was a pretty average point-and-click standard adventure game instead.