Most days, I like to think I’m halfway decent at gaming. I’ve played through Dark Souls, tried to speed run at least one of the early Resident Evils, and have even been deemed the “can you help me with this part?” friend in some scenarios. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I thought I could handle something as seemingly simple as a 2D side scroller. This, I’m afraid, couldn’t be further from the truth.
A Bastard’s Tale is the mending of difficulty and memorization that attempts to take you back to the SNES age of teeth gritting frustration, all well set in the middle ages. Speaking of frustration, even during the first level, the amount of times I kicked the bucket was...well it was a lot. Yes, there is no lack of ‘try and die again’ here. This is definitely a game made for the hardcore crowd by developers of the same mentality.
Worth mentioning from the get go, A Bastard’s Tale has the look and feel of old Super Nintendo or Genesis game down pat. To expand on that, the sprites and background design in-game are both incredibly well crafted and made with beautiful eye-catching detail. When I wasn’t focused on the bulls that were running directly towards me, I noticed the rolling pixel hills and the well placed birds and lizards throughout the level.
Unfortunately, despite early positives, the game certainly has its issues. While it does have the look and feel, A Bastard’s Tale is considerably lacking with content. Sure, there’s five levels of increasingly more and more challenging obstacles but that’s pretty much it. It doesn’t have a lot going for it after that. You could try to beat your ‘death total’ that the game gives you at the end, however, if that’s all that’s offered in the way of replayability then I fear this is going to be a one and done title for many.
The gameplay doesn’t make it any easier, it’s, to put it bluntly, bland and uninteresting. You have your standard attack, dodge and block (basically 2D Dark Souls) and nothing else. Now, I understand that this is supposed to be barebones, old fashioned trial and error gameplay, but did the developers have to strip everything down? Also, when I mentioned the controls were basically just 2D Dark Souls, they could have taken some other things from that as well, namely enemy encounters. The majority of things that you’ll be going up against are knights, terrible sorcerers and...I’m not even sure what it was? A wolf man with sword hands? There’s no horrific monstrosities, no mythical creatures, and simply, no imagination.
The music doesn’t hit the right notes either with a constant looping effect that is, admittedly charming to start with, but sure to get under your skin when you replay the level for the fifteenth time. Again, understandably it’s calling back to that forgotten day in age of gaming. There’s nothing wrong with that by any means, but there is a limit to what you can hope to achieve by making something such as this. On the same note as limits, the story is very much so. Without wishing to spoil what little of it there is, the tale of a A Bastard’s Tale is...well let’s just say that nobody’s going to be singing songs about it.
A Bastard’s Tale is a game that had a lot going for it, but came up quite short. There is definitely hints of greatness that can be seen with the visuals and the effort that was put into creation but the overall experience is just lackluster. There really was a chance here to show off a spectacular 2D title here, however, what ended up getting shown off was a one and done, flawed undertaking that will be lost to time.
A Bastard's Tale (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.
A Bastard's Tale is a visually appealing game with nothing to do. Barebones from front to back and a lacking experience, this title is nothing but a tall tale.