The Bard's Tale Trilogy

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
The Bard's Tale Trilogy Game Poster Image
Classic adventure series is remade, but still shows its age.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The player and his party are seeking out fame and fortune as part of the Adventurer's Guild, and it's essentially just dumb luck that causes them to end up fighting to save the world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While the characters have stereotypical fantasy roles, none of them really have much depth as fully fleshed out characters. They are simply there to fill specific roles and functions.

Ease of Play

Game's controls are about as basic and straightforward as they come. A lot of the game is left to chance, like the randomization of the virtual dice rolls, much of which is completely out of player's hands. A substantial amount of reading is involved, much of which would likely be above younger players' comprehension.

Violence

A lot of combat, but battles all play out in text, accompanied by some simple cartoonish still images of the characters during their actions.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Trilogy is being released piece by piece over the course of a few months, with the intention being to build interest in the upcoming new adventure, The Bard's Tale IV.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Various references to drinking and being drunk, as well as some depictions of alcohol on-screen.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Bard's Tale Trilogy is a remastered collection of role-playing games (RPGs) available for download on Windows-based PCs. The game brings together the first three Bard's Tale games with new graphics and sound while keeping the original style and gameplay. The controls are simple to pick up and play, but the game relies heavily on text for the adventures and requires moderate reading comprehension skills. Although combat and violence occur regularly in the adventures, the results play out via on-screen text, never showing anything particularly graphic visually. Parents should also be aware that there are regular references to alcohol, with characters often stopping for a drink and items like mugs of beer occasionally showing on-screen.

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What's it about?

Take a fantasy-fueled trip down memory lane with THE BARD'S TALE TRILOGY, a remastered role-playing game (RPG) collection bringing together all three chapters in the classic The Bard's Tale saga: The Bard's Tale - Tales of the Unknown, The Bard's Tale II - The Destiny Knight, and The Bard's Tale III - Thief of Fate. Each chapter faithfully re-creates the original '80s dungeon-crawling experience, enhanced with crisp new visuals and some updated tweaks to gameplay and control. Players will create their own unique party of adventurers and take them through three epic tales of swords and sorcery. Veteran heroes looking for a bit more challenge can also make use of the new Legacy mode, a host of additional features that allow the games to be played similar to their original glory. Whether you're a grizzled Warrior returning to the fight from days past or a rookie Conjuror seeking new adventure, The Bard's Tale Trilogy is a nostalgic look back at the foundation of fantasy gaming.

Is it any good?

It might be hard for younger kids to believe, but there was once a time when video games didn't have things like cutscenes, voice-overs, and quick time events. The Bard's Tale Trilogy revisits those days of games past, when text took up more screen real estate than graphics and random number generators were the key to life and death for your adventuring party. While the games in this remastered collection are generally faithful to their '80s originals, there have been a few tweaks here and there to improve the overall experience. Aside from the visual updates with sharper, more colorful artwork, there are enhancements to the gameplay as well. Menus are a bit more cohesive and well-defined, both the point-and-click and keyboard movement options have been smoothed over, and there are even options for modern RPG staples like auto-mapping and item/spell management.

While it's great to see some of these improvements incorporated into The Bard's Tale stories, it's hard to ignore the fact that the games are still showing their age. Certain things could be overlooked when the genre was just getting started, but those same things are glaring issues today, some of which make no sense. For example, you can leave an empty house at the end of an alley, immediately walk back in, and suddenly it's filled to the brim with a gang of very angry gnomes wielding very pointy knives. There's no rhyme or reason to the randomness of the encounters. It's also frustrating that there's no "back" function when giving your party orders. If you accidentally press the wrong key, you've got to go through the rest of the party's actions, decline the confirmation, and give everyone their orders all over again. Little issues like this add up over time. The Bard's Tale Trilogy gives a lot of respect to the foundation that the role-playing and fantasy game genres have been built on and is still a nostalgia-filled way to see how games have evolved over the years. But it's also a reminder that things have changed with the times.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in The Bard's Tale Trilogy lessened because of the lack of visuals associated with combat? Does it make the battles seem more vivid because you have to use your imagination to fill in the graphic imagery?

  • What is the appeal of revisiting and updating classics for a new audience? What do these newer versions add to the experience, and what can they take away from the original?

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