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The Bards Tale is a story about a Bard who is not your typical hero who wants to rescue save the world… or even care for the world. He is interested in only 2 things, coin and cleavage. The game is filled with satire and sarcasm and a story with many unwelcome (yet expected) turns in the plot. This is a modern remake of the original Bards Tale which claims to be the grandfather of the RPG genre. The author of this review has never seen the original game so I can not compare it. As standard RPG\'s of this sort go this is not a bad attempt by InXile entertainment.

Gameplay:

The general plot of the game is that the Bard has one thing on his brain... then there is a beautiful (and rich) princess that needs to be rescued, so the Bard embarks on a journey to free the princess. To achieve this he must battle many foes to destroy the guardians atop 3 towers to be able to finally rescue his princess atop the fourth tower. The game is takes upwards of 15 hours to complete depending on how many times you die. The bard’s main ability is to summon creatures to help him fight and accomplish his task. As the game progress you obtain better musical instruments to summon more creatures at the same time and also stronger creatures. Along the quest to free the princess you will encounter a wide range of foes, from walking scarecrows to invisible Vikings and also the “brothers” (and order that keeps the princess locked up). The bard can use bows for ranged attacks and swords, flails and other things for close combat. As the game progress you will obtain pretty powerful weapons. And the bard will learn deadly skills to make quick work of his enemies. I would say this game is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18.

Graphics:

The game is played in top down view mostly. The graphics engine is pretty descent especially for the time the game came out. The game engine makes good use of the particle engine and lighting is also done pretty good. You will fight in many different environments. Cut scenes are displayed with the games graphics. This looks even better than the few short pre-rendered scenes in the game. I wouldn’t say there are any shortcomings in the game engine. Although sometimes when you fight with your bow you can’t see the enemy you’re shooting at since he is outside the screen.

Sound:

Sound is done pretty decently. The voices are good and believing. The game has these sequences where characters will sing songs. Although it’s unlikely that you will sing along on these silly songs it’s still fun to watch and laugh at.

Control:

The controls are pretty simple using the mouse and keyboard. The mouse is used for movement and to attack. The keyboard is used to summon creatures use spirit stones and select weapons. The interface is very easy to understand and use.

Stability:

The game is 99% stable. I had only one crash near the end of the game. There is no patch available for the game AFAIK. Levels seem to load in blocks. And sometimes some of these blocks don’t load in time. Then you will see black regions in the game. This is fairly uncommon and only lasts a few seconds till the game loads the block. If your PC is too slow the game will slow down in time and everything will appear to be in slow motion.

Appropriateness:

I think the ESBR is Teen for violence. But from a Christian perspective it should be Mature. The game contains very explicit violence from start to end. There is an implied sexual content throughout the game from start to finish and also sexual humor. The game contains magic, magical creatures and also un-dead things. Like zombies etc. There is a narrator that tells the story but also converse in conversation with the Bard, once he is referred to as the Bards “maker” by another character. There is funny things concerning rituals and in one place the bard kills a horse in sacred site (a circle of stones) and this result in a very ugly and mean creature being rising from the dead. The game is riddled with bad morals and also bad language. If you are a sensitive person this is not the game for you. There is no nudity in the game although there are a few characters which need more clothing. One of the characters you can summon is a female that lures enemies away with here feminine whiles and then hits them with poison blades whiles quickly dashing away like the wind. This game is probably best left alone.

Closing Comments:

The humor in the game is good. This is not your normal “save-the-world” type of RPG. There is a tactical aspect to the game as selecting the correct creates to help you can make a difference between life and death. But the game does have certain bad aspects that one should be aware of. If you like RPG’s (like me) and you can play this game and still afterwards tell your self it’s only a game then you can probably play this while enjoying it. ****************!! PLOT SPOILER ***************** Don’t read this if you don’t want the plot spoiled for you. The reason I put this in is since I believe this is important, especially if you’re a parent that has a child playing this game. At the end of the game you reach the princess atop the last tower. The only thing standing between you and her is one last old man (although he is a pretty powerful warlock or something) But then he tells you that she is actually evil. So you end up with a choice. Fight him and free her. Trust him. Or walk away. The truth is that this princess is actually the “queen of the damned”. She transformed into a hideous creature with goat horns and hoofs, claws for hands and a female body with some torn clothing. So you have actually been helping evil all the time! From this it is clear that the game has an underlying evil to it and is therefore unsuitable for probably most people out there. The bard also seems to make some very poor choices in the end. ***************END OF PLOT SPOILER****************

Final Ratings

Violence –5 Blood -1.5 Gore –1 Language –4 Sexual Dialogue –5 Sexual Content -3.5 Occult –5 Prejudice -2.5 Gross humour -1.5 Family values -1.5 Total: 19.5 Game Play: 16/20 Graphics: 9/10 Sound: 9/10 Stability:4.5/5 Controls:5/5

Final Score: 63%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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