Bard's Tale was a victim of too much hype and pre-release speculation back in 2004-05., and offended PC CRPG'ers.

User Rating: 8.5 | The Bard's Tale PC
The game uses the last Baldur's Gate engine and is based on an Amiga classic from the earliest PC game interest was high and hardcore Black Isle fans gravitated towards it, along with a lot of veteran PC game enthusiasts. It was released with a number of bugs and came-off as a semi-lame PC port, that catered to game pads, yet still played like an old school PC CRPG, aside from the real-time combat Bard's Tale offers. The depth just isn't there in terms of skills, classes and abilities, but it's a very accessible, light-hearted and fun game. Yet because of its lack of length and somewhat early next-gen console catering, a lot of veteran CRPG fans were turned off or turned their noses upward.

The game's style is satiric, poking fun at traditional fantasy games and their cliches, and the "coin and cleavage" aspect isn't as prevalent as you might think. The story has chapters that are reached when you arrive at each consecutive town on the map, and you progress through one main series of quests that tie into each other. The battles are adequately challenging, the enemy AI is quite good, and combat is in real-time, as mentioned above, where you need to block and use mouse-driven abilities you earn, along with your summoned aides, to win small battles. You can choose a ranged or melee based character, and have some conversational (charisma) to work with, along with vitality and other typical RPG traits.

The game is largely mouse-driven while you hit the 1-4 keys to bring up your small radial menus to choose weapons and songs (summons) or abilities such as heal, and use the spacebar to block. You also move with your mouse (r-button), and if you want, change the direction of the camera's direction with the keyboard (A, S , D). You open/use and talk with the F key, quick heal with the R key, and that's about it.

The game is well-written, voice-acted, the graphics are very passable for the period and hold up fairly well considering the style, and the characters are all interesting, funny, peculiar and the story keeps you wanting to play until it's finished, then re-roll a different character. It has lots of low brow British humor and accents, that remind of Lionhead games from the era.

At 12-15 hours it's a short RPG, and more of an Action RPG at that, but with a lot of old school CRPG characteristics that make it unique, lots of fun, and a game you can get on Steam for cheap (bought it on sale for a little over $2.).

The game works well on Windows 7, but you'll want to change the resolution via the separate options config program, located in the game's root directly.