The Bard’s Tale: Remastered and Resnarkled is a game available on Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, and probably other things I have missed, and I love it. Now I will say many negative things about this game since it does have many faults; however, as someone who beat the game, I still think it is well worth the time. Now with the intro done, let’s get into the review.
I played The Bard’s Tale: Remastered and Resnarkled on PC for Windows with a mouse and keyboard though I would recommend using a controller as the game is clearly designed around a controller. The game is also relatively stable with minimal glitches and did not crash for me, but from reading online, the phone version is less stable. The game runs relatively smoothly and does not drop frames too often, even in some of the later parts of the game, where there are a lot of enemies and effects going on. The game graphics are decent for their time since the game initially came out in 2004 on the PlayStation 2. So, the game holds up in terms of performance, making it relatively easy to run on modern computers.
Next up for discussion is the gameplay, where the game stumbles a lot despite some of its interesting ideas. The game is a basic hack-and-slash similar to games like Diablo, however, it is very simplified. In games like Diablo, a big part is collecting loot to find better weapons and armor and sell things to buy new items to get stronger; that is usually how it works. In The Bard’s Tale, all loot dropped by enemies is automatically sold. If you find a new weapon that is better than what you currently have it will also automatically be sold, this goes for armor too. This takes away a lot of agency from the player, limiting them in how they can build their character since it is basically built for them. That is not to say you can’t play in different ways, but it is minimal. There are six different types of weapons (not including two special weapons only available near the end of the game): fists, swords and shields, long swords, dual-wield daggers, bows and arrows, and flails, each having its own pros and cons. However, melee combat is just not that good because enemies can block your attacks with very little telegraphing, so a lot of melee combat becomes just blocking each other’s attacks till one of you drops. Some attacks can stun the enemies, but it can be hard to stun two or more enemies at the same time, making fighting groups difficult, which is most of the game. The magic system can help with this as you can summon an ally to assist you in battle, from creatures that fight to ones that heal you, which can be found throughout the game. However, you need to find or buy new instruments in order to allow you to have more allies summoned at the same time which also makes early-game combat hard and annoying.
Next is the level design, which is mostly fine except for some parts. Let’s start with the good, the towns are fun to go through as each one feels unique having its own sense of culture. This goes for most of the other areas in the game for the most part, as they often try to stick with a theme, whether that is an old forest or a Viking town; it usually does not feel slapped together. However, going through them is another story as they are very linear, with little interaction outside of traps, leavers and sometimes keys. The most the game does to mix up the levels is to add areas where you can not have summoned allies which, as you may guess, does not really help make the level more fun. The other problem is some of these levels can be a bit long with nothing but fighting enemies which with the not-great combat can make it a slog to get through. In addition, there are some areas where once you play through the section you cannot carry on with the game without backtracking through that section. So that the level design is another mixed bag where it can look nice but is annoying to get through.
So why do I like this game? It is a simple answer: the writing and the voice acting. The Bard’s Tale: Remastered and Resnarkled is a parody of a fantasy game which is one of the funniest games I have played all year. The plot is about a bard (voiced by Cary Elwes) with no moral compass who only cares about what is good for him, becoming The Chosen One to save a princess. The thing is, he is not the first “Chosen One,” not even in the game there are multiple points in the game where you will meet people claiming to be the Chosen One only to fail or die. The Bard often does not show much sympathy, often making fun of them since he does not care about the world’s fate, just if he will get to have fun with a woman. Also, the game has a Narrator (voiced by Tony Jay) who is mostly there to make fun of the Bard and sometimes to expand the story. The Bard and Narrator have an excellent back-and-forth dynamic, especially since the Bard is the only one who can hear him. Throughout the game, there is great dialogue for almost everything in the game. Each shopkeeper has their own style, and talking to characters is always fun making the gameplay worth it. As much as I can go on and on, I will not spoil the plot as it is the best part of the game. It is generic but leans into it so well.
In conclusion, The Bard’s Tale: Remastered and Resnarkled is far from the best game ever; however, I can not help but love it. Even as I was getting frustrated at the combat, feeling forced to use the bow, I still wanted to finish the game. The level design is straightforward, and although I cannot remember how any of the levels are put together would push through it. All because I wanted to get to the next plot point and see what new joke would come, what recurring gag would come back, and how the Bard and Narrator would react. Ultimately, I recommend this game to anyone willing to push past some not-great combat and level design to see the comedy this game provides.
Written by Nikolaus Von Chorus, Lethbridge College
Thanks for reading this article!
If you’d like to share your thoughts in reaction to what you just read, then feel free to leave a comment below or click here to submit your own opinion piece. The Dorkaholics Team is always on the look for new, additional voices to join us, share their own unique perspectives, and contribute to the diverse platform we are building in our corner of the internet and pop culture community.