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Let me sing you a song!
Bard's Tale stands comfortably alongside other RPG innovators like Ultima and Wizardry and even though it looks a little rough and ready these days, it stands up remarkably well. It's a well executed fantasy adventure that features a traditional narrative, plenty of exploration and some pretty deep customization options and which combine to make an enjoyable experience. The game finds the town of Skara Brae under threat by the appearance of a dark wizard. Foul creatures have started to wander around the countryside, while the surrounding area has been cursed with eternal winter in order to stop any help from coming. It thus falls to a party of bold adventurers who just happen to be hanging around to step in and save the day and which is where you come in. You start out by creating a party of six heroes, with classes like Hunter, Monk, Paladin and Rogue alongside the titular Bard, and then you move on to the quest itself, which involves the usual dungeon and town exploration and of course combat. Bard's Tale might look and sound a little crude these days, but it remains a fascinating experience. Many of the ideas seen here have now become such an accepted part of the genre that it's hard to imagine a time without them, but it's in games like this that things started out. The exploration remains as enjoyable as ever, while there's a decent combat system and a great sense of real adventure, as you roam about facing evil monsters. The visuals hold up nicely, with a strange sense of old-school charm, so really, if you have any interest in classic RPGs, you need this in your collection.
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