Generally favorable reviews - based on 50 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 50
  2. Negative: 1 out of 50
Buy On
  1. 70
    If the thin plot of games with similar mechanics bothers you, this could end up as your favorite in the genre.
  2. Just why multiplayer was left out really will be never known, but it is a mistake that Brian Fargo, a reknowned game developer, should not have made.
  3. Has its rough edges but I probably spent more time than was necessary playing it because I was enjoying it!
  4. A solid RPG that doesn't take itself too seriously, but is still seriously entertaining.
  5. 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.
  6. Like a really good comedy film, probably best suited as a rental.
  7. One of the few games that is downright funny, and there were honest laugh-out-loud moments sprinkled throughout it that kept me playing.
  8. Edge Magazine
    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]
  9. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    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]
  10. 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.
  11. But while dumbing down the RPG premise for the casual console gamer might work for some people, it ultimately fell down for us by making the main action portion of the game really quite tiresome.
  12. One of the best role playing experiences for the Xbox console in 2004.
  13. 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.
  14. 60
    Could've been a great game, but focuses more on being funny and irreverent than being a solid action/RPG and ends up being pretty average.
  15. It's not as epic as "KOTOR" and your karma-building decisions aren't as crucial to the gameplay, but this game packs in more humor and charm than anything I can remember.
  16. 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]
  17. RPG fans that are interested in a good laugh at their favorite genre's expense will probably dig this title, flaws and all.
  18. 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.
  19. 80
    While the melee fighting is undoubtedly excellent the magic element is the combats greatest strength.
  20. Humor is this game's selling point-not battle systems or graphics or game engines-and gamers who value a smart and entertaining tale well told will certainly be able to look past the game's other problems.
  21. A moderately solid action RPG that fails to live up to its peers in this generation. It just isn't as solid, gameplay wise, as games like "Baldur's Gate" and its humor is way too hit or miss to make up the difference.
  22. The Bard's Tale is the (Monty Python's) Holy Grail of action-RPGs.
  23. If the actual gameplay had shown more innovation and been as solid as the story script, this could have been a truly great game. As it is, it must settle for simply good.
  24. 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.
  25. 80
    A game that has a refreshing story, a wonderfully unique leading man, great voice acting, good graphics, good music, and a mediocre combat system.
  26. Okay, so maybe it's not the best RPG of the year. But it brings a good laugh to anyone who plays it.
  27. 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.
  28. They play upon an RPGers Pavlovian response toward barrel-bashing and rat-hunting, manifest one of the genre's most unforgettable anti-heroes, dutifully employ intelligent scriptwriting, and make it all a very enjoyable chord.
  29. A genuinely hilarious spoof of a genre long overdue for it.
  30. 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.
  31. If you're a real RPG junkie (which I freely admit I am), the fresh, irreverent, humorous tone of Bard's Tale may be entertaining enough for you to ignore the fact that it's sitting on top of a pretty mundane, flat game experience.
  32. The game is hilarious and even the cliché aspects are still fun. The Bard's Tale is an addictive and enjoyable game that RPG fans would be wise to add to their Christmas list.
  33. One of the funniest and most entertaining games to have hit the market in quite a while. If you like Monty Python, if you just love to laugh, or if you follow role-playing games in general, then you should definitely take a look.
  34. netjak
    It reminds me of that old report card comment- the game has a lot going for it, but it isn't working to its full potential.
  35. Official Xbox Magazine
    Though no aspect of it truly screams triple-A, the entire effort is one that patient players who can endure the early hours will surely enjoy. [Holiday 2004, p.84]
  36. 65
    Unfortunately, most – especially pure RPG fans – will find the game is incredibly simplistic, with the actual gameplay being far too shallow, containing a basic fighting mechanic, an innovative 'magic' system and... Well, not much else.
  37. 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.
  38. 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]
  39. 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.
  40. A sluggish and repetitive combat system and overly simplistic RPG elements leave The Bard's Tale wondering exactly what type of game it is. It does have plenty of hilarious moments, but ironically many of the aspects that the game pokes fun at in relation to other RPGs, it suffers from as well.
  41. 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.
  42. A refreshingly original take on a notoriously starchy genre; tongue in cheek, sword in hand and pants around ankles. Hail to the king.
  43. 87
    The bard is such an unlikely hero (not to mention a total smartass) that just the thought of seeing what will happen to him next compels you to play.
  44. 82
    A puppy…that's right, you have a puppy that will follow you around. He is pretty good at getting his ass handed to him, but in time you will learn to love your puppy.
  45. Some of the subject matter might be a little risqué for the younger audience, but for those who are of age, this title is a solid adventure with a great sense of humor.
  46. Possibly a rentable game; only if you enjoy beer, dancing, and funny accents that is.
  47. Xbox Nation Magazine
    Its self-concious metacomedy helps elevate what is already a solid game into a sing-songily fine game. [Jan 2005, p.98]
  48. Makes up for the lack of personality in titles like "Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance" and "D&D Heroes" by having enough for the three of them, resulting in quite possibly the most amusing game on the Xbox to date.
  49. 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.
  50. 70
    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.

Awards & Rankings

#51 Most Shared Xbox Game of 2004
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 6
  2. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. Rick
    Mar 2, 2006
    Having played through and conquered Bards Tale 1, 2, 3 on the Commodore 64 ( should see the hand drawn maps I have in what were the Having played through and conquered Bards Tale 1, 2, 3 on the Commodore 64 ( should see the hand drawn maps I have in what were the nastiest dungeons ever created in a game) I was very excited about the possibilites of an updated version of these games (better graphics, different engine/interface etc). With the original creator Brian Fargo on board I was hoping for more story, better character development, differing quests. As a highpoint of the game I was enjoying the Bards ability to conjure a helper; elctricity spider, archer, warrior, knight and so on but there just weren't enough of these characters - maybe another 10 and ending up with a pet Dragon at the end? Also more variety of weapons and armour would have been nice. Enjoyable enough, with some humour, worth a rent. Worth a buy if you are an RPG fan. Full Review »
  2. BlueFalcon
    Aug 26, 2005
    It's a hack and slasher with excellent humour. The hacking and slashing isn't super polished, but I found it much more entertaining It's a hack and slasher with excellent humour. The hacking and slashing isn't super polished, but I found it much more entertaining than a lot of other games out there. I would recommend the game for sure. Full Review »