A humorous adventure which overstays its welcome

User Rating: 5 | The Bard's Tale PC

The Bard, a travelling musician with a magical lute that can summon creatures, conjures up a rat to try and con the local tavern into giving him a free food and bed for the night. The innkeeper agrees to let The Bard stay if he gets rid of their vermin problem, but as it turns out, they have much bigger problems in the cellar.

From the opening ten minutes, you lean a lot about The Bard's character and what your journey is going to entail. The Bard only cares for “coin and cleavage”, and with that motivation he sets off on the usual RPG quests in order to find his rewards, and ends up embarking on a quest to save a princess who promises such rewards.

The Bard's negative and sarcastic tone makes him a great character, and his awareness of the game's narrator makes for some funny dialogue. When interacting with other characters, you often have a choice between a sarcastic or nicer tone which characters respond differently to.

As a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler, it's not too bad but could be better. You can use swords and shield, dual wield weapons, use two handed swords, flails, and bows. Although you don't have a proper party, you are accompanied by a dog, and any summons. At first, you are limited to one summon, but as you progress, you eventually can summon four.

There are a total of 16 summons which have various abilities and stats. There are a few points in the game where you use them for 'puzzles', like finding a wall of ice, and then summoning your fire elemental creature to bring it down.

Many RPG mechanics have been simplified. The inventory simply shows your best items. When you acquire a better one, it is equipped and your previous item is instantly sold which streamlines the process, but takes away from the traditional RPG experience. The shops have a limited stock and even when you purchase an item, it's not long before you find something better.

I chose to play as an archer focused character but in hindsight, it's probably the worst in terms of enjoyment. You can see enemies on your radar and take them down whilst they are off screen. The enemies only charge at you when you get to a certain distance, and your summons follow the same rules. So often you fire arrows from a distance and your summons stay stationary alongside you. As long as they aren't any objects in your way, it's all to easy just to kill enemies before you even see them.

The biggest flaw in the game for me was the game's length. After several hours, you have seen all the game has to offer. Being a parody of RPGs, it is a humorous game, and the dialogue and characters are very enjoyable. Since the plot is simple, there is no reason for it to last the 14 hours that it does and ending after 7 hours would have been much better. After this point, it just becomes a absolute chore to play.