The Bard's Tale - Tales of the Unknown Review by: warmakerBard's Tale
Bard's Tale is an average RPG with average playability and is moderately forgettable. The game opens in a tavern. There is no back story nor do you know why or who you are. You create a party of six members with various classes available. Hunters and Warriors are strong physical attackers. Rogues are nimble and can disarm the many chests you find. Bards can sing various songs and work like a power mage. The bard has a full compliment of songs at the beginning and makes him the best class to start. Wizards and sorcerers round out the magic-using part of the team.
When you order your characters, you can only allow the first three to attack physically. The back three can only sing or chant spells. This leads to some strategy as you outline your party system. The battle system is menu based and you can select attack, guard, cast, sing, or use items. The menus are familiar to any RPG player.
The graphics are interesting only in the game is a first-person view. Think Wolfenstein at the time. You get an overhead map and you can explore the area around you. The monsters have average graphics and the world around you is not detailed. Generic is the word of the day for graphics.
The music and sounds are average at best. It is a repetitive song played depending on the action. The battle music is fun, fast-paced, and engaging.
The story is incredibly weak with very little to catch your attention. This was before the time of Final Fantasy sprawling, detailed, shocking stories but came after a believable Dragon Warrior. An evil mage has taken control of the city and you have to find a way into his tower. You battle him to free the town of control. The problem is there is nothing more than that. He doesn't even seem to be doing anything bad as the city folk you talk to have their taverns and businesses open as usual. The exception is the monsters walking around but there is no link between them and the evil mage.
The story has very little depth. PIck some characters, learn on the fly, and level up. There are some underground mazes and some interesting items to discover but this is an early NES/8-bit game. You cannot expect much out of it.
The difficulty is the tough part. If you can survive the punishment you first take when you start, the game gets easy. The characters get wiped out early and often at the beginning of the game and the 300 gold to revive a player can frustrate even the most patient of gamers. The difficulty is finding the right enemies in the beginning and successfully fleeing the ones that will destroy you easily. As long as you can survive to level 3 or 4, you can make it. Getting that far will lead any old-school player to throwing their controller at the TV.
The game is not addicting. You can play to check it off a "Games Played" list but there are no solid positives to Bard's Tale. It is forgettable and not worthy of playing more than once. The battle system is average, the music is okay, the storyline is poor, the graphics are what you expect from the generation and it spawned nothing in the way of continuation games. Play away but you may find yourself unimpressed after the end.