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The Bard’s Tale: Remastered and Resnarkled review for PS Vita, PS4


Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4
Publisher: InXile Entertainment
Developer: InXile Entertainment
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

Given that The Bard’s Tale originally came out on PS2 and the original Xbox back in 2004, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the game is showing its age a decade and a half later. Even in its newer remastered form, pretty much everything about the game looks, sounds, and plays incredibly dated.

As you can imagine, this makes certain aspects of the game difficult to enjoy. In particular, the graphics are ugly. Like, we’re talking hideous eyesores. To be sure, being crammed onto the Vita’s smaller screen probably doesn’t help matters much, but it’s bad enough that, somehow, I can’t imagine seeing things in greater detail would help.

Other aspects of the game have aged slightly better, albeit not by much. The game’s sense of humour and overall snarky tone comes off as very being much of a specific time — that is, the late-’90s/early 2000s. The Bard’s Tale is still undeniably a funny game, but where it may have seemed like the most hilarious thing ever back when it first came out, now it sometimes feels like it’s trying a little too hard. That said, the game is helped immeasurably by having strong voice acting: Cary Elwes and Tony Jay are (or were, in the late Jay’s case) legendary for a reason, and their talents are able to make even the stalest material sound pretty good, even today, years after they were recorded.

You could make a decent argument for the game’s combat/gameplay, too. On the one hand, The Bard’s Tale’s top-down action also feels like the kind of thing that was more in vogue back when it came out. On the plus side, however, the game takes a relatively streamlined approach to everything that feels much more modern; I don’t know that the game’s 20+ hour running time could be called short, exactly, but it does feel like the game is more willing to get to the point than many of its contemporaries.

But still, those graphics. I don’t doubt that there’s a reason why The Bard’s Tale became so beloved, and I could see falling in love with it even now if you’re looking for a game where humour takes precedence over almost everything else. But the price of entry is high: you have to look at some of the ugliest graphics you’re likely to come across in this day and age. It’s a difficult trade-off to make, and it basically all comes down to how badly you want to hear jokes that are around 15 years old.

Grade: B