Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The Bard's Tale

When I had my big January cold, I thought, at least, oh well, I can read something, but I couldn't. My ability to focus had gone out the door with breathing through both nostrils. Was I fated to spend my days staring at the ceiling? Fortunately, as fate would have it, I stumbled across an oldie but goodie game on the Google Play that has been ported over to mobile devices. And just like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, I was in for some interactive storytelling as I embarked on...

The Bard's Tale 

The first thing I noticed was how dated the game appeared, from a time when grass was a strange, hyperreal colour and 3D animation was still a novelty. How funny that my home PC back in 2004 was too slow to play the game. Ten years is ten lifetimes in computing. And if you like things super retro, it comes bundled with the original Bard's Tale trilogy.

The Bard's Tale is one big, hilarious send up of the fantasy genre as well as computer role playing games. There's lots to laugh at, from the first quest (kill a rat) to breaking barrels and being besotted with being a "chosen one" which forms the main quest. The Bard, who is never named, is voiced by Cary Elwes, who starred in The Princess Bride. Occasionally The Bard breaks the fourth wall and gets sarcastic with the droll narrator, Tony Jay.

But besides some goofy songs and a compelling story, there's lots of hacking and slashing. Wolves, boars, trees, evil goblins, zombies - oops - all provide a challenge for The Bard and his companions. Yup, such a sad soul The Bard is - he has to conjure up friends like the Mercenary, Electric Spider and the Crone. If there's one thing I can complain about the game is that some levels were pretty dark and hard to see even with the brightness turned all the way up on my 7" tablet. It was distracting.

Here's the best part about The Bard's Tale though - your actions determine the story and the ending. Being the nice person I am, I chose all the "nice" dialog options. On my second go round, I chose the snarky answers. Being snarky had a price though, literally, in some areas, so use with caution!

It's great to see older games can find new life. They're perfect for playing a little bit at a time, and unlike a lot of mobile games, there is so much to them than just collecting coins, launching birds or crushing candy :-D