Curtel Games “The Bard Singer” is an interactive story. I mean, it’s not quite a visual novel, as it more in the format of a standard book. As a matter of fact, “The Ballad Singer ” is more of an audio book than anything else.

Anyways, the game starts of with having you choosing one out of four characters (there are only two characters in the beta though), then you embark on your character’s quest, where the story is both read out and displayed on the pages of an old book.

the ballad singer the available characters in the beta

There are only two available characters in the beta of “The Ballad Singer”. Even so, you still get a pretty good idea what the game is all about.

Each “move” requires you to choose an option (whether it’s deciding whether to attack soldiers, choose a path or to simply advance to your next destination). The story is pretty darn appealing and features quite a bit of violence and a few adult themes, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all ends.

the ballad singer choosing a quest

This is the menu where you pick your quest in the game.

Of course, some options could be regarded as not particularly beneficial to your health, so you are given several chances for choosing the correct (or better) result – the number of chances depending on your chosen difficulty level. The story does usually give some clues over what option would be best, but at the moment the correct choice does seem to be a bit too much of a hit and miss.

the ballad singer the game over screen

If you make too many wrong choices, then you will face the game over screen before you even get a chance to blink.

Simply put, if you can’t get the correct result within the allotted number of chances, then it’s game over. One thing that is nice though, is that the font and colours used for the available options is easy to read. However, I’m not too sure about the text on the pages though…And why is that so you might wonder? Because when you try to emulate a burnt page, it does have the tendency to make some characters unclear.

the ballad singer ancornans adventure

The ballad singer’s story is very intriguing as the game offers well-written and different stories for each character.

Other than that, each page of the book is narrated, and with each character being voiced. Whilst it’s a nice touch, it does feel weird listening to people being overly dramatic (as you would be when reading a book), rather than speaking normally, but that’s something that you would eventually get used to.

the ballad singer a choice needs to be made

The ballad singer’s music is great, and the voice acting is nice (the whole game is fully voiced). However, the sound effects are limited.

As for the actual pages themselves, you can actually flip back and forth between pages (just like you can do with a real book) on the current screen and speed up the voices, and that’s something which I find to be quite amusing. On the right-hand side will be the available options, of which you need to select one in-order to continue the game.

the ballad singer enter the cave

The art style and graphics are really beautiful and impressing in “The ballad singer”. So much so that it looks like something straight out of a book.

At the moment, the beta version of “The Ballad Singer “only has two available characters – Leon and Ancoran, of which the latter one intertwines with the former and whose story is currently the longer. However, as of right now, the beta is very short and at the moment does have a few untranslated areas.

the ballad singer tavern

I really like “The ballad singer”, but there are a few things that irritated me quite a bit in the game. For example, there’s a lot of text to go through, scene transition is slow and there are too many chances to avoid mistakes.

So whilst “The Ballad Singer” certainly shows promise, and is quite an unusual take on the visual novel genre. A lot more needs to be added before it’s released early next year, especially with the asking price in mind. Furthermore, a lot has been promised as well. So it remains to be seen whether the said promised content will have any real effect on the game or not.

the ballad singer a very pretty lady

It’s going to be really interesting to see what the full (final) version of “The Ballad Singer” will be like on the release day (“The Ballad Singer” is said to be set for an early 2019 release).

As for here and now though. Even though I mentioned quite a few cons previously. I still find “The Ballad Singer” beta to be a well-made visual novel/RPG that offers an interesting story. So if you’re into visual novels, RPG’s and fantasy. Then you might want to give “The Ballad Singer” a try.

Pros:
+ Graphics look like they are from a book
+ Fully voiced (although the style will take getting used to)
+ Story is intriguing as are the different characters
+ Music is appropriate, but sound effects are limited

Cons:
– A lot of text to go through
– Perhaps too many chances to avoid mistakes
– Scene transition is slow
– A lot really needs to be added

Gameplay: 3/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound and music: 4/5
Controls: 4/5
Replay value: 3/5
Story: 4/5

tgg grade 4 out of 5

Verdict: 4/5
“The Ballad Singer” is an interesting twist on the visual novel genre, but, even with an interesting story, it does lack the flair to make it really interesting. Furthermore, with the large amount of text to read and the slow transition between each scene, the game sure feels oddly inferior to any other visual novel. So it’s going to be truly interesting to see what the full version of “The Ballad Singer” will be like.

Title: The Ballard Singer
Developer: Curtel Games
Format: PC Download
Genre: Interactive story
Resolution: User-defined
Release date: 2018-09-27
Difficulty: Choice driven
Spent time: + 1.2 hours (completed beta)
Average grade internationally:  N/A Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating:
+12
Price: 21.88 Euros via Steam (Early Access)
Download URL : The Ballard Singer via Steam

Credit:
Robin Ek – Editor

***Disclosure***
The review code was provided by Curtel Games.

tgg author avatar David Lucas
Nicholas Kingsley
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @sku_te

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