Review: The Bard's Tale by inXile Entertainment (universal binary)
The Bard’s Tale, by inXile Entertainment
$14.99, ***1/2 (universal binary)
• Includes the original Bard’s Tale games
• Lots of detail and humor thrown in
• Maybe inappropriate for young audience
• Character interaction can be tedious
*To all who are awaiting reviews – I apologize about the lack of reviews recently, but I hope to post a steady stream of app reviews of the next few weeks. If you have contact me regarding an app review, I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Please note that contacting my (even sending a promo code) does not guarantee a review. If you have not heard from me within the next week or so, please send me another PM*
I remember way back in the late 1980’s and early 1990, RPG games were just coming out for the computer – games like Wasteland, the Ultima Series, Might and Magic…and one of the first ones was Bard’s Tale. The Bard’s Tale has now come out for the iPad and iPhone (universal binary) so how have the years treated it?
First off, a quick comment. This game is an import of a PS2 game from 2005. The old, somewhat angular graphics from that console are visible on the iPad (the device I was using to play) but on the whole it wasn’t too bad. This game itself is a little odd, in that it appears, quite often, to be a tongue-in-cheek version of a fantasy TPG game. The Bard (voiced by Cary Elwes!) is prone to make sarcastic responses, talk directly to the player, make witty or wry observations, and just general comments and innuendo about the plenty…buxom…women who are found in this game. For that latter reason, I would be wary about having young children play this game.
But, having said that, for more “mature” people, this game can be lots of fun. Rather than have a party of adventurers like the original Bard’s Tale, here you play the Bard, wandering around the world, trying to make you way (and trying to hook up with every woman that you find along the way!) Along the way you use spells, weapons, and your songs to fight enemies, collect gold, and find items. Unlike the turn based approach of the original game, here you have a real-time button attack method of fighting – you also can use swipe gestures to control the creatures you summon. While I have only been playing the game for a few hours, there seem to be plenty of quests and adventures in which to partake. The 3D interaction works pretty well, and the controls (using a touchscreen instead of control pad) also seem to work with no problem. You can tell that is was originally designed for a console controller – a lot of the actions are defines by tapping up, down, left or right – odd for a touchscreen but it makes perfect sense if you are using a joystick on a console system.
When interacting with the locals, you have the option for a nice or sarcastic response. Think carefully about how you want to respond – it may not always pay to be nice. In addition, interacting with other people (depending if you choose nice or sarcastic) can have implications in the game play. The biggest drawback of the game is actually related to one of the strengths. Character interaction can take a long time, because the characters are voiced. You can’t just skip and read the interaction along the bottom – I found out the hard way if you hit the “skip” button, you skip the whole dialogue. It would be nice to be able to choose a “just read” option or something like that.
One of the coolest things about this game is that it comes with the original game (The Bard’s Tale) and the Sequel! It looks like they are going to import the third game as well. So fans of the old style Bard’s Tale can still get their fill! The touch screen interactions are a lot more difficult with this old game, but playing it can be fun (and for you young whippersnappers, you can see what an old school RPG game is all about!).
All in all, this is a fun import of a the PS2 game, and works pretty well on the iPad. The graphics are passable, and the game play itself is fun, mostly due to the sarcastic and irreverent bard. Along with the new version of the game, this universal binary comes with the original Bard’s Tale 1 and 2. While it is a universal binary, I would recommend playing on the iPad – the iPhone screen is just too small. At $5.99, the game comes loaded with content, and so is still a very good deal. Four out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.