Big, Bigger, 3.5
Sometimes I like playing quick repetitive small games while riding the train to work, but now, now we are talking big. How big? Three point five gigabytes big if you decide to download the HD version. But wait, its not about the space occupied, The Bard’s Tale is a full blown action (semi) role-playing game. It offers roughly 30 hours of gameplay and a big world to explore. So let’s see if it’s worth your time and money.
A Little Background
The Bard’s Tale debuted in the late 2004 for the PS2, then it was released for Xbox and Windows in 2005, got re-released for Steam by the end of 2009, iPhone fans got their port in 2011 and finally in 2012 we get to play it on the Android platform.
Older gamers may recall the existence of even older Bard’s Tale game from 1985 and its sequels which were released as The Bard’s Tale Trilogy in 1990 for PC DOS, developed by Interplay and published by Electronic Arts. This game however is neither a remake nor a sequel to the original trilogy. I am mentioning this because as of recently, you get all those games included in the package when you purchase The Bard’s Tale from the play store.
Our beloved protagonist, the nameless bard, a selfish rogue whose sole purpose is to get more coins by (almost) any means necessary, arrives at the city of Houton, completely broke and hungry. In order to get some food he uses his musical powers to summon a rat in front of “The Drunken Rat” public house, owned by the widow Mary MacRary. The rat runs inside and our hero boldly enters to rescue Mary in exchange for some food. But Mary has other plans. She gives him a quest to exterminate all the rats in her cellar, without mentioning one tiny little detail… And that’s where it all starts. One quest leads to another and eventually you find yourself recruited by a cult to rescue the princess Caleigh.
The game is presented in rather comical way. The lines spoken by our hero are funny to watch and the narrator’s attitude only sweetens the deal. Cutscenes and dialogue are well written and you won’t feel the need to press the skip button too often.
At the very beginning of the game you are offered to customize the skill points and to choose one trait. Depending on your taste, you can make your hero a classic warrior, archer, or you can dump points in rhythm in order to improve your Bard’s summoned creatures statistics. As you progress through the game and gain levels, you will be offered more points to spend and more traits to choose from.
The game offers no inventory or item management of any kind. All the loot you find while killing enemies, which is not usable by the character (weapons, armor etc.), will be automatically transferred to silver coins that are used to buy better equipment in the shops scattered across the land. This alone and the fact that there are no character classes at all, implies that the game is more action-adventure based and drifts away from the classic RPG genre when compared to similar games of that time (Baldur’s Gate for example).
The combat system is rather simple. You have three things to worry about, moving, bashing and blocking. As dull as it sounds, there are battles where you will have to move around and prioritize your targets in order to survive. The summoning pet system plays a huge role here as well. There are number of creatures you will learn to summon, some offensive and some supporting, needless to say you will have to pay attention to their health as well.
There are number of towns and areas you can explore. Apart from the main storyline, you can pick up quests at the towns you visit. Some of these side-quests lead you to a nearby dungeon which you can explore in order to get experience and money. There is a solid quest log at your disposal including pointers on the minimap, so tracking a quest is not something you should worry about.
Graphics and performance
The game takes the 3D isometric approach, similar to many other hack & slash RPG’s. Textures look nice, colors are pretty and the engine runs smoothly. The camera however has a bad habit of rotating itself occasionally when the gameplay is interrupted by a cutscene or when your character enters a building. This can be confusing at times, luckily it can be rotated easily by placing your fingers on the opposite side of the screen and rotating clockwise or counter-clockwise.
The game offers adjustable level of details in the option menu, allowing even older devices to run the game smoothly. This is certainly a welcomed feature considering the range of Android devices available on the market and in my opinion, more developers should include this in their games. If you own a Tegra 3 device, you can download the HD graphic files which simply look beautiful. But that beauty comes at a price, The Bard’s Tale will eat up nearly 3.5 gigabytes of your data storage.
The Bard’s Tale offers touchscreen controls and they generally work well. On the left lower side of the screen you will find the thumbstick that controls the bard’s movement. The default thumbstick position is static and easy to miss. As a result, I often found myself hitting the equipment button instead, but once you nail it, it tracks your finger across the screen until you lift it. Fortunately you can change the position to relative in the option menu. Just above the thumbstick is the mentioned equipment button, that allows you to change your current weapon. Above that is the summoning key that allows you to summon or dismiss your pet. On the right side you will find only two buttons, attack and block, while tapping the health / mana meter you can access the general log book.
In addition to the virtual controls, The Bard’s Tale offers native support for number of external gamepads and controllers. MOGA Controller, NYKO playpad, PS3 Sixaxis and Xbox 360 just to name a few.
The Bard’s Tale is one of these special games that you will want in your collection sooner or later. Despite not being a classical representative of the RPG genre, this game offers fun and comical gameplay on the long run. It will occupy you for days or even months, especially if you decide to chase every side quest and explore every map. I do recommend this game to every RPG fan out there, and generally to everyone that likes spending more than 10 minutes playing Android games on the bus.
|Great gameplay||Weird camera|
|Solid story||Huge download|
|OVERALL SCORE 8.0|