The Bard’s Tale in its current form is a reimagining of the original trilogy of classic 1980s computer games, which, as a wonderful bonus, are included with your purchase of the reimagined version, and completely playable. The original trilogy are in fact so classic, that they were featured in the Smithsonian’s “The Art of Video Games” exhibit.
The originals are seen through first-person perspective, and back in the day, caused many virtual adventurers to dabble in cartography, mapping out progress in pencil on graph paper so as not to get lost.
The 21st century version – originally releasing in 2004 – is depicted via a top-down isometric view, and is one of my favourite titles within the action-RPG genre on any platform (I played it on the PlayStation 2).
Many games boast a sense of humour in their promo notes, but few deliver. The Bard’s Tale is one of the few games I can remember being genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, with its Monty Python-esque British absurdity. The humour is delivered not only through great writing, but also through brilliant voice acting. Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Men in Tights) voices the apathetic, beer and cleavage-obsessed hero, while the droll narrator’s lines are delivered with impeccable comic timing by the late Tony Jay.
I haven’t dipped my toe into its waters yet on Apple TV, so I’m not sure how it plays on the platform, but I’ll report back as soon as I have. It requires a controller which is a good sign. It would be hard to imagine fumbling around on the Siri Remote with such a game. The Bard’s Tale also has cross-save functionality, so if you also have the iOS version your progress will follow you from big screen to small, Nintendo Switch-style.
I’m looking forward to once again allocating my first bunch of ability points, picking a specialty (I’ll probably go with dual-wield), and going happily sword-swinging in search of my first rat.
It would be hard to imagine inXile Entertainment putting up with a sloppy port, as the studio is one of the most respected makers of RPGs, such as the Wasteland series, and the more recent Torment: Tides of Numenera.
Right, I’m off to sharpen my blade, and to prepare myself mentally in anticipation of having the “Beer, Beer, Beer” song stuck in my head for days to come.