“Oh, its Bad Luck to Be You. Diddly Doo.”
Ah, wine, women, and song what more can you want from a game? Except maybe a story that can hold its liquor, women worth looking at and songs that are not constantly recycled.
In the Bard’s Tale you play as the Bard, a adventurer on a journey to save the princess who is locked up in a tower by an evil usurper. Now if this premise sounds painfully familiar that would be because it is and the developers know it. One of the main hooks for the Bard’s Tale is that it is a spoof off the whole fantasy genre. Your main character (The Bard) is not your typical hero and is guaranteed to insult you rather than sing praise to your name. He dosen't care about the welfare of others but only about the prospect of gaining coin and cleavage at journeys end. The world is teeming with jokes about how silly quests for love and honor can be, as well as observations about nonsensical level and game design. Unfortunately none of the humor works very well. You may chuckle here and there at some of the banter between the Bard and the Narrator, but that’s about it. Even the well conceived musical numbers about beer and chosen ones are wasted, as the game starts recycling them instead of coming up with brand new songs
Another problem is how light the game is on RPG element’s. There are towns to explore with NPC's who you can walk up to and say a half amusing remark about there look's, smart's, and or personal hygiene, but nothing to really keep you engaged. The emphasis here is clearly on the action, which like the games jokes fall flat. The Bard isn’t much of a fighter. He is more for letting others do his dirty work… actually he‘s more for letting others do all of the work. Thus where your trusty harp, flute and guitar come in handy, all of which summon warriors, beasts and monsters to your aid. This is an intriguing idea but it is not fully realized. The problem is the game is either so easy that there is no need to strategically pick and choose your allies. Or its so difficult that your just going to run in circles while your health regenerates as your allies slowly but surly wear down the opposition. Add in the lack of weapons to buy and spells to acquire and you have a game that really needed another shot in the arm before leaving the principle design stages.
The Bard tale is a lot like the song that would never end. Its mildly amusing at first but soon the sparse lyrics, lack of depth, and repetition take its toll. Making this quest for cleavage not worthy of your coin.