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.