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The Bard’s Tale review (iOS / Universal)

December 13, 2011

“Now the bard’s songs are over, and it’s time to leave”

10 word description: 3D epic role-playing game. Port of 2004 original. Game Center.

10 word review: Pixelated graphics (on iPad 1) seriously detract from the overall experience.

You will like this if you enjoy: RPGs with a self-aware style of humour but a lack of loot.

The good news: It’s a big game, assuming you want a big game. It’s funny, assuming you want to play a fantasy/action RPG that parodies fantasy/action RPGs. The graphics are (apparently) good on an iPad 2.

The bad news: (iPad 1) The graphics are ugly, pixelated and you can’t really see objects like a chest until the pop-up message appears asking whether you want to open it. Combat is awkward and unsatisfying. While some of the humour tends to be genuinely amusing, I’d rather have a more entertaining game to play. Difficulty spikes are odd and it’s hard to tell whether the controls, lack of visual feedback or something else entirely was responsible for your latest death. You can only save at designated save points – not so great for a mobile game. It’s impossible to skip part of a conversation, so it’s all or nothing; skipping a whole conversation often means you have effectively said “no” to a quest, unless you start the conversation again and sit through the whole thing. RPG elements are simplified and there isn’t much loot to be had, something that is referenced in one mildly amusing joke but at the expense of one of the main hooks of RPGs – loot.

Arcadelife verdict: It’s surprising how far games have advanced since 2004. I don’t mean graphically, but there are lots of RPGs already available on the iOS devices that are a heck of a lot more fun than this. On an iPad 1 it is just plain ugly. We can hold parties in the street for as long as we like, applauding the arrival of a massive (1.34gb download) “classic” role-playing game on the iOS platform, but ultimately it’s not the best game ever and it never was.

Arcadelife rating: 72/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

The Bard’s Tale Facebook link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
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