BlackBerry PlayBook Game Review: The Bard's Tale
A little history
The Bard's Tale title is certainly no stranger to the gaming universe as its origination can be fully traced back to the days of early gaming; 1985 to be exact. Originally designed by Interplay, the RPG is generally excepted by most gamers as one of the first RPG's. Years later (2004) the game was re-envisioned by inXile Entertainment and released on the PC,Xbox, and PS2. In 2011 the game became available on iOS devices and more recently became available on the BlackBerry PlayBook. In short, the game is a classic.
The world of The Bard's Tale is filled with plenty of cleavage and monsters, but blends it all together with a humorous twist. The story line is your typical medieval fantasy story, but is sprinkled with humorous dialogues between the narrator (Tony Jay) and the Bard ( Cary Elwes). The bard's smart remarks, and keen love for women make for some interesting times throughout the game.
Those that have played adventure/RPG games will appreciate the pun aimed at traditional story lines. Game play is similar to other RPG games, you have quests to complete, towns to explore, and dungeons to ransack. Gamers that enjoy traditional dungeon crawl type games will feel right at home with this game, as its filled with many dungeon labyrinths. The overhead third-person view gives you a command and conquer like feel over your character, and allows for a better view of whats going on within the world.
There are maps; thank God, that can be accessed by tapping the "N-rune" icon in the upper right. From here you can cycle between the three map view mode: mini-map, full screen overlay, and none. One of the things that tends to badger after a while in this game is when you enter the world map upon leaving a village. Here you need to move your character (slowly) around the map to your destination. What makes this move unpleasant is that you can get attacked while traveling. Although you can move to avoid being attacked by things, it becomes very tedious after a while.
Overall the game is fast paced with plenty of action, but slows down when using the world map to travel. Leveling is somewhat slow, considering the amount of fighting that goes on. Character development can be done after each level up and attribute points can be manually distributed or auto distributed depending on what option the player selects. So character development is pretty streamlined; right align with traditional based RPG's.
Ironically, there really is no inventory system. An extensive inventory system is something that comes standard in most RPG's, but you will not find such luxury in this game. All loot and coin treasure is automatically added to your inventory. Simply walking over treasure or items will claim them as your own. The nice thing about this system is that unlike traditional RPG's, you do not have to worry about your inventory filling up.
Unique in its own way
There are two things that really make this game unique. The first is companionship. Throughout the game you gain the ability to summon magical characters. There are actually 16 different characters that can be summoned. Each of these characters provide support in their own way, some heal, while others provide addition attack support. Learning how to use these other party members is key to staying a live in this game. It also provides a refreshing twist from just one character hacking and slashing their way to victory.
The other thing that is different about this game is the way that your character heals himself. Again, The Bard's Tale strays away from traditionalism, and does not use potions to heal. Instead, you can heal by summoning Princess Caleigh (the damsel in distress). This is great, but not so great when you need a quick heal when you are surrounded by enemies. The problem is that her healing routine takes a while to complete and in the meantime you are still being attacked by enemies.
Although not visually stunning the game does run smooth and crisp on the PlayBook. The PlayBook has no trouble at all rendering any of the graphics. There are also quite a few cute scenes that link the story as well as plenty of song and dance numbers that add some additional humor. The vibrant effects of magic attacks are a nice plus, and show up well on the PlayBooks screen.
Navigation is actually really smooth and is all done using the directional-button on the left of the screen. The summoned commands are executed by swiping various directions on the screen. This will allow your summoned creatures to be commanded as a group. You can also zoom in or out by pinching or expanding using two fingers.
The bottom line
The Bard's Tale is a game that should be added to everyone's collection. The game provides hours of playing time (20-30hrs) and captivates the player into a jovial story line. One thing to keep in mind with this game is that its massive both in size and in game play. If you purchase this game and plan on staring at your screen waiting for it complete, you better grab a cup of coffee and prepare to wait. The game can require over 3.2GB of space, so make sure you have some room left before you make your purchase.
The Bard's Tale is by far the best RPG on the PlayBook; and in my opinion a close contender for the best game on the PlayBook to date. The game can be purchased in BlackBerry App World for $5.99 and is well worth the cost for the amount of content that you get.
BlackBerryOS Game Score
(5 Star Rating System)