Monday, 20 May 2013

The Bard's Tale

Last night / early this morning I finally got to completing The Bard's Tale,  a video game that has taken me the better part of a few months to best. Not because it was difficult (although it certainly had it's moments), not even because it was all that long. No, thew reason it took so long to complete was because the second-hand disc that I had bought let you play 80-85% of the way through the game before crashing...

This was suffice to say infuriating as by this point you've probably contributed about 10 hours of play-time. So, it sat there incomplete, which also deeply annoyed me, but as you say no cloud is without a silver lining and, mine came in the form of a friend kindly lending me his copy when I raised the problem I'd had in passing conversation. Cheers Phil. :0).

So, being a little concerned that I was too rusty just to jump in where I left off, I started over and about 10 hours later I again reached the problem area, this time powering through without incident.

None of this is the point of the post though!

It's all just back-story before I discuss point at hand, and we're still not quite there but bear with me.

The plot of The Bard's Tale is a mix and match of your standard clichés. Save the damsel in distress, wizards in towers, darkness sweeping the land.. Yada yada yada. The game makes good use of this though to subvert player expectations before delivering the twist in the tale.

You've battled your way through three remote towers, slain their guardians at the summits and, upon confronting the final wizard who holds the Princess Caleigh captive, he tries to reason with you..

That's right, reason with you. Up until this point Caleigh through her magic and followers has been feeding you information to the effect that she is being held captive and that should you rescue her, you'll be rewarded with wealth beyond your wildest dreams. By and large, the story adds up and, Fionnaoch, the head of the druidic order that has been hounding you since you found your way to the first tower, with a clear view to see you dead.

He however, tells quite a different story. Caleigh, he claims is a demon queen whom he and three other wizards bound after her attempt to throw the land into darkness 1000 years ago. There is also plenty of evidence to support this case. From the point that the first guardian fell, undead have been sweeping the land in their droves, getting worse as each subsequent guardian fell. There is also the fact that the magical transport Caleigh sent to rescue The Bard was a giant flaming stingray with the power of flight. Even before Fionnaoch's plea this had me suspicious.

This is where the game throws you a curve ball however, you can CHOOSE who to side with!

Which brings me to the whole point of this post, who would you choose to side with? On one hand you could remain loyal to Caleigh. Fionnaoch's tale does have a ring of truth about it but he has spent the better part of your journey plotting your demise. His pet killed your pet and, his moves have been calculated if not successful. Even if Caleigh is a demon queen, responsible for the undead legions, they've not been attacking you directly.. They've just been plaguing the land in general.

On the other hand, if Fionnaoch is telling the truth it doesn't seem unreasonable that he would do everything in his power to stop the towers falling to Caleigh and her followers, even to the point of killing a hapless adventurer. Siding with him however does make financial reward unlikely, and death at the hands of a demon queen in battle highly likely. Fionnaoch is by no means the combatant a demon would likely prove to be.

The game also offers a third choice.. Walk away. Yup, after all you have been through, you can decide it's really not your problem, call it a day and head to the nearest tavern instead.

Caleigh, Fionnaoch, The Bar. Which gets your vote?

So my question is simply, what would you do? Side with Caleigh, Fionnaoch or, head down the pub instead?

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