After finding this wonderful remaster of the Bard's Tale Trilogy by Inxile Entertainment I was all set to do a complete play through and full page review, but alas, while the remaster is wonderful the game "Bards Tale 2" is just,,, bad. If on the other hand you are interested in the original Bard's Tale 1, then by all means the remastered version by Inxile entertainment is a great way to experience it.
First, the remaster. Inxile did a wonderful job with this and I would highly recommend it if you are looking to play the original adventure. Some large changes like a built in Auto Map and smaller changes like pooled party gold really do a lot to make this more friendly to pick up. They also did a great job with keeping the artwork faithful to the original while still making it look better. As another reviewer mentioned "They made it look like you think you remember it looking".
I played Bard's Tale I about 7 years ago using the original PC version inside of DOS Box that was included with "The Bards Tale (2004)". It was fun and I enjoyed it. A fun trip down memory lane, but not worth the effort to play part's 2 and 3. Fast forward a few years, add a pandemic and plenty of spare time, and I thought "maybe I should take another look?". With the excellent remastered version by Inxile Entertainment I figured this would be a slam dunk. While the remaster and programing was excellent , the story and gameplay of "Part 2" simply is not.
Some issues are just a part of the series like the incredible variation in starting stats, and the utterly random health and spell point increases per level. These make for a horribly unbalanced game, but it's just part of the series and you can work around it with saves if it bothers you. The puzzles on the other hand, omg the horrible puzzles, are deal breakers.
In short, each dungeon has a puzzle at the end. To solve the puzzle you have to explore each and every single square of the dungeon to get clues. Once you think you have all of the clues you have to hope you can solve the puzzle, but that is the only hints you get and there is no way around any of them.
Here is a glimpse of what is to come. In the very first dungeon, In order to open the door for the very last encounter, you HAVE to have a bard in your party. There is no reason to ever think you would need this, and you will never need to have a character of a specific class afterwards, but this time you will need one. And, you will need to have explored each and every single square of the dungeon to find the clue that you need him, and you will have to figure out this from the clue on level 1 which is "Below you now, thrice count the floors, play the last for the double doors.”. If you can't figure this out, then tough luck, you have failed. There are no other clues, or ways around this.
This continues for all 8 dungeons.
Here are my notes from my play through of the second dungeon. "The Tombs are complete. What a pain. That was a very poor dungeon. Designed as a maze, it's just not entertaining to play. Just completing the maze would be fine, but you have to explore nearly every single square so that you can get the clues you need. Add to that a final puzzle that is not very clear. An old man, a torch, a poison fountain, and a toxic giant. I will say that I think this remastered version really shines in this dungeon. They made interesting design approaches to making spells such as Scry Site and Kiel's Magic Compass useful even with an AutoMap."
So, in short, if you want to play the original "Bards Tale 1", this is a great way to do it. Skip "Bards Tale 2" unless you have some really compelling reason.