Generally favorable reviews - based on 44 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 44
  2. Negative: 1 out of 44
Buy On
  1. 82
    There is so much humor and such a great sense of wit, I highly recommend The Bard's Tale to anyone who has even the slightest sense of humor...With a more refined combat system -- preferably with more combos or at least less abusive AI -- the next Bard's Tale could become a true classic.
  2. A decent dungeon crawler that invests some energy into lampooning RPGs and high fantasy in general, but like a stand-up act about airline food or the line at the post office, its perspective isn't very interesting, and it lacks any real follow-through.
  3. Game Informer
    Though sub-par action and cheap deaths are endemic to the Bard's quest, this title made me feel like I was taking part in a real fantasy adventure teh way few others have over the years. [Dec 2004, p.167]
  4. The content is not too different from that of a PG-13 movie, with innuendo and plenty of adult jokes. The story mocks the genre as a whole, not just one particular group of characters.
  5. Cheat Code Central
    This game is satire in its sharpest form. It's self mocking, self aware attitude is always at the forefront and it makes the adventure, oh so very clever indeed.
  6. So if you’ve always been put off by the micromanagement inherent in most RPG’s, Bard’s Tale may be just your ticket. If those aspects are part of what draws you in, the game will feel very shallow.
  7. This is the most fun I have had with a role-playing game in a very long time. It drips with an attitude that is wonderfully anarchic and cynical.
  8. 80
    What really makes the game shine is its main character. There really hasn't been a protagonist like the Bard.
  9. Its sardonic take on typical conventions is thwarted by its own weak design, and its tongue-in-cheek humor fails more often than it succeeds. Laughter might well be the best medicine, but a bad joke is the worst ailment.
  10. 80
    It's worth going through the hacking and slashing to get to all the winking and nodding. [Dec 2004, p.154]
  11. 70
    Like Nintendo's cult classic, it's a game with likable characters, a sharply-developed sense of humor, and somewhat perfunctory gameplay.
  12. Although The Bard’s Tale doesn’t offer anything new in terms of gameplay, it’s the amazing story, presentation, voice acting, and sense of humor that make it a great game.
  13. It’s quite tricky to evaluate this rendition of the Bard’s Tale compared to the older titles in Fargo’s legendary series. This is particularly true when you consider that this Bard would’ve skewered it with his wit.
  14. The world is detailed and interesting to be in, with only some annoying graphical issues. The dialog (written and spoken) is amazing to listen to, and funny to boot.
  15. Ultimately, setting out to critique and parody so studiously such a hidebound genre has brought The Bard’s Tale too close to what it was trying to distance itself from. This is a conventional, likeable dungeon crawl whose flashes of brilliance distract you from its accomplishments by hinting at how much more it could have been. [Christmas 2004, p.93]
  16. The humor is adult focused, fun and plays out through the entire game. The other gameplay elements aren't perfect but ultimately the game is a lot of fun.
  17. With a solid storyline and pretty good gameplay mechanics, we are given a game that really does help strengthen the PS2's RPG market.
  18. Play Magazine
    True to its unrefined hero, THe Bard's Tale could use a little more class, depth and sophistication. Which certainly doesn't mean they're still not entertaining company to keep. [Nov 2004, p.50]
  19. Pelit (Finland)
    Tries to be funny but the jokes are far too obvious. As a game it stumbles upon the same mistakes and cliches it makes fun of. Poetic justice, if something. [May. 05]
  20. There is a noticeable delay in pressing the attack button and the attack itself. Battles are in real time, so this delay can create all sorts of havoc.
  21. Such humor made me stick with this tale, which otherwise suffers from mind-numbing hack-and-slash combat and dull dungeons--action-RPG cliches that are anything but funny. [Holiday 2004, p.102]
  22. Yahoo!
    If there were a more advanced game behind the excellent writing, The Bard's Tale could have been one of the highest rated RPGs this year. The Bard's sarky one-liners, foul mouth, and rampant chauvinism make every cutscene and conversation entertaining and frequently laugh-out-loud funny.
  23. The Bard is a poor close-in fighter, but he also sucks with ranged weapons. Luckily, he has friends.
  24. Doesn't do anything particularly original, but that's not really the point. The point is the content, the script, and the wit, and in these areas it excels. [Nov 2004, p.118]
  25. PSM Magazine
    This sarcastic, comedic Action RPG's gameplay is fundamental, solid, and almost old-fashioned in its uncluttered-ness. [Holiday 2004, p.96]
  26. A light-hearted romp through different RPG clichés and worlds that delivers just what it promises. It's fun, funny, and probably one of the best dungeon crawling action RPGs in our current generation. Of course, it's a tired genre, so coming out on top of it's predecessors is not a huge accomplishment.
  27. I couldn't put this game down. I couldn't get the one liners out of my head.
  28. If The Bard’s Tale played as well as it pokes fun at hack-and-slash RPG clichés we’d be talking about a ‘10’ here. The repetitive combat and reliance on tried-and-true RPG conventions, sadly, bring down the score.
  29. The use of the Snowblind engine allowed it to effortlessly provide enjoyable hack-and-slash gameplay, while the dialogue and presentation provided the necessary charm to make The Bard’s Tale stand out.
  30. It's shamelessly hilarious, leaving no topic or genre stereotype sacred. [Dec 2004, p.110]
  31. But what I don't get is why oh why must the enemies constantly rise up to pummel your weaker party when obviously there's few options to defend such cheating onslaughts. Or, why is The Bard's choice brand of humor not making me giggle like mad?
  32. Like a really good comedy film, probably best suited as a rental.
  33. It’s somewhat ironic that The Bard’s Tale, which satirizes conventional medieval epics and romances, suffers from such a conventional adventure.
  34. The story and dialogue never cease to entertain. Objectives include rescuing prisoners, killing fearsome scarecrows and playing Cupid. But, although the developers want to ridicule, the action remains conventional.
  35. Those who don’t mind some muscle trimmed from their action RPGs may take to this most current Bard’s Tale adventure, but it’s mostly a lamentable devolvement of anything RPG or action-oriented.
  36. The 30-40 hours you’ll get from this game are a just plain fun and singular experience that will hopefully see a follow up in the near future.
  37. 80
    While the melee fighting is undoubtedly excellent the magic element is the combat's greatest strength.
  38. 80
    While there is a certain level of frustration to be had with the gameplay, this tale is worth the twenty hour journey. The amount of humor it has and the ability to be nice or mean adds some replay to the game, enough that it holds its own compared to others in the genre.
  39. What will immediately stand out for you when playing this game is the humor. The game loves to make fun of other games in its genre and does so in a variety of different ways.
  40. 75
    It's an enjoyable romp, but rather short in duration and rather shallow in story.
  41. While the repetitive combat and dated graphics keep me from awarding it the FFC Gold Star, I got a lot of mileage out of it on my own personal Fun-O-Meter.
  42. 72
    Instead of following the tried-but-not-always-true formulas often found in fantasy RPGs, it manages to save itself by being nothing but irreverent and just a little bit rude.
  43. A refreshing change from the other RPGs out there. The game's good sense of humor carries the title from start to finish. On the other hand the gameplay isn't all there. It feels like a hack and slash "Diablo"-esque game that you don't actually fight in.
  44. A solid RPG that doesn't take itself too seriously, but is still seriously entertaining.

Awards & Rankings

#46 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2004
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 17
  2. Negative: 2 out of 17
  1. AdamT.
    Mar 30, 2007
    Truly one of the best RPG's I've ever played. It's humor gives it great character that endears you. I actually felt like it Truly one of the best RPG's I've ever played. It's humor gives it great character that endears you. I actually felt like it was a fun adventure and not a simple dull one. I kept playing to see what would happen next. Pick up this gem today. Full Review »
  2. Nov 8, 2013
    Granted this game simply rehashes a tried-and-true hack-n-slash formula that was already done to death at the time, it's still allot of fun.Granted this game simply rehashes a tried-and-true hack-n-slash formula that was already done to death at the time, it's still allot of fun. While the gameplay might have been a little stale, the narrative and the general idea behind it are top notch. An RPG that seriously makes fun of RPGs to the highest degree. I also love how they are constantly breaking the fourth wall, the humor is just brilliant.

    The Bard's Tale may not have the most interesting gameplay, but the characters, writing and general wit will keep you playing. A fun different kind of RPG.
    Full Review »
  3. TrollGuy
    Jul 21, 2007
    OK ya know what? i never played the game but i looked it up and It looks like a game you can get sucked into. look at the age of the game thenOK ya know what? i never played the game but i looked it up and It looks like a game you can get sucked into. look at the age of the game then look at the graphics of it. pretty good for how old it is. It looks like a game with out different levels so it is not so easy and short. I want to buy this game. really badly.... yeah... Full Review »