Wild sex performed by a willing woman three times daily, and the keys to the kingdom and all the riches you can ever want.
Now that is motivation. The usual RPG nonsense about riding the world of an evil menace, and saving the princess just because it is the proper thing to do. Nope, the antihero in The Bard’s Tale would not get out of bed for a mere sense of righteousness. Actually the only thing that would get him out of bed would be when the husband, or father of the fair dame he just conquered the day before burst into his room. But as the story progresses, and the princess in distress starts to demand more and more dangerous tasks of him so does her promises of more sexual pleasure than the bard can endure. This is the Bard’s Tale, and it is definitely a tale about a bard being particularly bardy.
Ports to iOS tend to be quite good, or horrendous. The Bard’s Tale is actually lodged somewhere in between when it comes to graphics, controls and save game system. Starting with the controls they are all touch based with a digital pad for movement found in the lower left corner. Attack, and defend buttons are found in the lower right corner. There is also a magical menu, and an equipment menu available on the screen. When you access any of those the game pauses, and you are free to summon a spell, or choose a more suitable weapon. I found these menus quite clunky, and not all that intuitive to figure out what spell would actually be summoned. Whenever you can interact with the environment a bar shows up with the action available. This is a quite handy feature, as too many top down RPGs force you to align yourself with NPC:s and items, and then hope that you are in the right spot. Even if I find that the controls are decent there are times when they aren’t up to scratch. Boss battles, and close quarters are hard to navigate especially if the Bard gets stuck on some part of the scenery. The Dungeon Hunter series from Gameloft is superior the controls for the genre, and The Bard’s Tale is in need of tweaks to compete.
The classic RPG elements are limited to levelling up your character at regular intervals. There is never any need to grind to continue the story, but rather if you die it is because you tackle a situation in a poor way. Changing the summoned creature, or between melee and ranged weapons are far more important in determining the outcome of a battle than the stats. There is a shop or two, but they play a minuscule part in the game once you leave the towns. Furthermore there aren’t that many items to find outside the story. This makes the game feel quite linear compared to for example the Korean RPG:s. There are side quests, but these are easily forgotten in favour of following the storyline.
The graphics are a bit hit n miss combining grainy maps, with good character animations, cool but lacking in detail movies and boring character screens. Overall it could have done with some polish, and extra attention to really make it stand out. Some of the text portions are also quite small, and hard to see on the smaller iPhone screen.
The third area the game falters on is the lack of automatic save games. Sure there are a generous amount of save points scattered across the game, but it is a nuisance having to save manually every fifth minute or so. The game can be quite harsh throwing you into a world of hurt all of a sudden, and then it is not that fun to redo the easy bits. There is also the occasional crash when the game is interrupted by notifications or calls.
Ok so now I have bashed the game for the shortcomings, and now I will tell you why it is one of my favourite games of 2011 for iOS. Two aspects make the game so darn enjoyable: the humour, and the excellent voice acting.
The Bard’s Tale is a funny game filled with humour ranging from irony, sarcasm to sexual innuendos and excremental jokes. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously, and makes a lot of fun of the entire RPG genre. Jokes about the compulsory initial rat slaying mission starts it all off. Soon I found myself giggling to the dialogues between the narrator, and the bard. Everything has this sense of fun to it, and even the character screens with the bard acting out the highlighted ability makes my innards gurgle with joy. The humour found is only paralleled by the witty remarks found in The Secret of Monkey Island.
The voice acting is absolutely brilliant, and filled with personality. There is a lot of singing going on, and every time I find myself watching the entire sequence. Songs about the chosen one, about beer and about the fate our bard will meet draws me in, and before they end I can hum along to the chorus. As I stated before the interaction between the narrator, and the bard is a true highlight. The level of disgust the narrator display towards the bard is mindboggling.
There are some issues to the port of The Bard’s Tale, but they pale in comparison to the vast amount of fun the game is. I feel really interested in finding the princess, and climbing towers filled with enemies to reach her. The characters feel genuine, and I can sympathize with the frustration he feels when he tries to negotiate with the multiple Bodbs. If you want to have a good time with an adventure that isn’t too heavy on the RPG stuff this game comes highly recommended.
The Bard’s Tale $5.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: inXile Entertainment
Filesize: 1.34 GB