Bard's Tale (PS2) Reviews & Ratings
Reviews, Ratings, and Professional Opinions
The Bard's Tale is not like any RPG you have ever seen. Rather, it is surprisingly original; take everything you have ever seen in an RPG, add satirical dialog, some action, and an unforgettable lead character, and you have The Bard's Tale.
By all means, don't be mistake when I use the word satirical. In no way does that ruin the storyline. In fact, the story is really quite refreshing, and you will truly have fun playing this game.
I introduce you to the Bard, our "hero." Now, I must insist that you take those quotation marks into serious consideration. The fact is, Bard is unlike any "hero" we have ever seen. In fact, I would say "anti-hero" fits him a little more snuggly.
Most video games feature a brilliant story of a man or woman who realizes that they must give up all they have to save the world. These characters will risk their lives just to better the society of everyone else. Bard is a little different. Give him wine, women, and music, and you have yourself one happy Bard.
Bard is so despicable, that you may feel your enemies to be more just and noble. However, this is precisely what makes the game so enjoyable. It is a refreshing break from the warn-down, retold stories we hear so often. It's nice have a lead character that mom and dad wouldn't dream of letting you see as a child.
As a game that makes fun of all others in the genre, The Bard's Tale embraces tons of clichés. Enemies will drop treasure when they die, women will get stuck in towers, and children will grow up thinking they are "the one." The whole storyline is cliché actually. Bard's job is to simply rescue a beautiful woman from an evil wizard who locked her in a tower. Don't worry though, that doesn't mean Bard is a good guy. He is only doing it for treasure, and the trapped Princess knows just what it will take: "Imagine me doing what you are thinking, three times a day, for the rest of your life."
Don't worry though, you have some control offer how disgusting the Bard is. Choice 1: Sarcastic, Gross, Hilarious. Choice 2: A little less Sarcastic, Gross, and Hilarious. Ironically, inXile considers Choice 2 a "nice" response.
"Bard often fights with the narrator who seems to totally despise Bard"
One of the great things about The Bard's Tale is that your decisions have a large impact on the game. If you are snide to a character early in the game, you may find that same character coming back to haunt you later on. However, you are never forced or guided into choosing whether to be naughty or nice, but sometimes you know what you got to do. This makes you feel in complete control and lets the game come off as very natural.
As you travel throughout the game, you increase many of Bard's stats, such as strength and luck, and you boost many of his skills too: two-handed fighting, dog-training, etc. Describing every move that Bard takes is a booming voice from above--the narrator. Adding to the humorous feel of the game, Bard often fights with the narrator who seems to totally despise Bard.
Unlike other the typified magic we see in most games, you will see no fireballs coming out of Bard's hands or lighting attacking people from above. Rather, Bard embraces what he knows best: music. During battles, Bard summons allies through song who will temporarily fight along his side. While these spells are absolutely a requirement to completing the game, they can get a little annoying. Each spell has a personality (some attack enemies, some heal, some explore), but each spell has just a few lines of dialog to use. This means, throughout the game, you will hear those lines hundreds of times. You will probably be cringing at the sound after a while.
The other problem with the spells is that, when dispensing them, you are unable to attack for about 20 seconds. However, your enemies will take no break from trying to end your quest while you play your soothing tunes. Sure, this does make sense since you need to play your flute to cast a spell, but spells die quite easily. So, you may cast a spell and need to recast one right afterwards. As result, in fights, you will probably be running around the whole time trying to avoid harm while casting spells. This gets pretty annoying pretty fast.
There are other problems that make combat kind of boring as well. The buttons are all laid out well, but when you actually have a weapon, there is no creativity. You can't do any combos or cool moves (a great example being Devil May Cry), and instead have to resort to a single attack move.
Bard's Tale runs on the Snowblind engine, originally developed for Baldur's Gate several years ago. The game looks pretty nice, but it won't break any grounds in the market. On the good side, player's faces are nicely designed, but there aren't a lot of animations for them.
Sound falls into the same boat as the graphics. They are good, but not to the point where you will wish for a CD Soundtrack. Music is okay during the game, but the voice-overs are superb. You will want to beat the game simply for the sake of continuing to listen to the Bard's hilarious dialog.