Saturday, November 06, 2004


I've spent a fair amount of time talking to Brian Fargo about The Bard's Tale. Most of these conversations went something like this:

Me: You should make The Bard's Tale funny.
Him: That's a good idea!
Me: Good to hear it. Now keep mowing.

It's hard to tell if he took my suggestion, because sometimes the game seems funny, and sometimes it doesn't. It's like meeting a girl whose right side of the face is like, Monica Bellucci's face, and the left side is Gary Sinese. When she looks one way, she's hot, and when she looks the other way, you throw up just a little in your mouth.

It's sad, because The Bard's Tale has some really awesome stuff in it. It's an attempt at bringing some new stuff to RPGs, which is about as easy as trying to wear a camel like a pair of loafers. Whenever you try to bring something new to RPGs, people get upset. "This game is not D&D, nor does it have a three-digit Roman numeral after its title," they say, between bouts of coughing and breathing through their mouths.

In The Bard's Tale, you play as The Bard, who is a real scumbag and who runs around telling girls to pull down their pants and do him. In between telling girls to have sex with him, The Bard goes out and kills tons of wolves and other things that animate and look almost exactly like wolves. The Bard's life is really made up of two things: Deciding whether he wants to be nice or mean to someone in conversation, or flailing forth in a combo that sends him wandering past whatever it is he's trying to kill.

You can summon party members, which is cool. You get songs that summon characters that range from utterly useless (the light fairy) to freaking ridiculous (the bodyguard). There's nothing cooler than wasting mana and time summoning a giant shield-bearing, mouth-breathing man-child who fails completely at the role of getting hit by arrows for a living. On the other hand, you can eventually summon the Vorpal Rat, which is THE AWESOMEST THING EVER IN GAMES. In you thought Dracula was awesome, you haven't seen anything yet, because the Vorpal Rat is like Dracula's awesomeness times infinity.

Playing The Bard's Tale is like meeting a new friend and ordering a pizza together, and finding out that the new guy likes really bad stuff like shoe leather and grenades on his pizza. Sure, you get to eat the good stuff, but then you're stuck with the bad stuff because that bastard wouldn't eat his half and throwing out pizza is a crime against humanity.

Sometimes the game is really awesome. Like when SPOILER REMOVED. Other times, it seems like it's stretching. Like this:

The bard walks into a room. A RPG cliche happens.

BARD: Oh man. An RPG cliche. Why can't we just do something witty and different and get it over with?


RPG cliche-ness ensues.

A lot of it boils down to, "Look how cliched this part is that is about to happen, even though we know it's really cliched!" Which is all post-modern or something.

Anyway, you should buy The Bard's Tale, because inXile is trying to do something different, and that's worth your support. Just don't tell anyone you bought it, because buying games is just so cliched.