Tales of the Unknown: Volume I - The Bard’s Tale (or simply The Bard's Tale) is a role playing game designed by Michael Cranford and developed by Interplay. Released initially for the Apple II in 1985, the Commodore 64 and Amiga would follow in 1986, while ZX Spectrum, Atari ST, and DOS versions were released later.
Like most RPGs, there is, of course, an evil bad guy threatening the world. In this case, it’s an evil wizard who has sent his monster minions to harass all the humans. To make matters worse, the wizard has cast a spell to make it winter permanently. This is where you and your merry band of heroes come along. Creating a party of up to six characters you must embark on a quest to defeat evil. Character classes include Bard (duh), Hunter, Monk, Paladin, and more. As the title would suggest, the bard class is pretty important in this game, not only to support to rest of the team with his spells but also to solve some of the puzzles.
The game is a so-called dungeon-crawler, it uses a first-person view and you can explore to your heart’s content. The areas are pretty maze-like and you will need to keep your bearings so as not to get lost. Enemy encounters are random and combat is turn-based and represented via text rather than animation. Kill monsters, level up, buy better gear, and kick that wizard’s ass!
The Bard’s Tale got excellent reviews upon release and has won multiple awards. It was the best-selling RPGs of the '80s, with more than 400.000 copies sold and it was especially successful on the Commodore 64. This is one of those classics that set the standard and any RPG fan needs to add this one to their collection.
Brian Fargo himself, founder of Interplay, contributed to the game, as well as Lawrence Holland, that composed the soundtrack, and that end working on the music of the Star Wars: X-Wing series.