There’s been a scarcity of selection in video video games tailored from basic literature lately. There are solely so many occasions the tentacles of Lovecraft can satiate the wants of the gaming equal of a fireplace learn, however the place do you go from there? Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” in QTE format? Luckily, Black Cube Games have pointed in the correct route with The Tale of Bistun.

This is the debut game from the Dutch-based studio, which is a re-telling of the Twelfth-century poem “Khosrow and Shirin”, written by Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. While the unique focuses on the titular pairing of King Khosrow II and Princess Shirin, The Tale of Bistun as a substitute trains its sights on the connection Shirin has with the sculptor Farhad, who’s the primary character right here. Splashed in with a number of fantastical parts, Farhad has to avoid wasting Shirin and the world from a corrupted blight, with the assistance of the Persian goddess Anahita, and the magical sentient tree All-Seeds.

What’s instantly noticeable about The Tale of Bistun is how progress is all the time seen, due to the hub world that slowly grows between ranges. The game showcases a linear path via its missions and tales, nearly to an aggressive fault. Between a narrator that softly kneads every plot-critical component into the participant earlier than persevering with the story, and a rigorous lock-step sample of mission layouts, the game seeks to pacify anybody who’s on the lookout for a extra daring journey.

Is {that a} unhealthy factor? Well, that depends upon when you’re the kind of participant that The Tale of Bistun desires to courtroom with tragic romances taking heart stage as a substitute of titans combating over possession of the world. It’s a literal storybook presentation, with little or no getting in the way in which of that, the closest comparability being the equally structured Raji: An Ancient Epic.

While mission-critical gadgets and upgrades might be signposted fairly closely all through your journey, sometimes you possibly can stray off the crushed path for a collectible. Whether it is stone pill textual content logs, statues to sculpt, or inscriptions to carve, there is a small handful on every degree so that you can gather for the hub areas.

Inside the missions, areas can have a reasonably straight line of story second interspersed with numerous arenas it’s essential to undergo and cleanse earlier than you are allowed to proceed. The cleaning battles that happen do initially spotlight the fight’s weightiness, regardless of some unbelievably missing selection at first. You’ll be getting a meek providing of weapons to select from as time goes by, and the enemies can solely evolve as far as “brute force” to “brute force with shields”.

What’s attention-grabbing to notice is the way it turns into much less centered because it evolves over time. At first, you are armed with two hatchets that Farhad makes use of to sculpt, and the animations and timing are effective. From there, you are given a pickaxe, which appears to deal the identical injury, albeit barely slower, earlier than granting you a 3rd weapon for the ultimate boss battle, with no time to acclimate in a game of Simon Says and minor monsters padding the size.

There’s no actual technique to train all through your entire journey, continuously smashing the assault button till every little thing stops transferring or being stun-locked. One of The Tale of Bistun‘s solely responses to including flavour in enviornment fights is by including ranged monsters, certainly one of which has a heat-seeking projectile that may chase you for a short time. While Farhad has invincibility frames whereas dodge rolling, you do not really take up the projectile, and the journey of dodge roll is not very far, so there is a good likelihood you may nonetheless get hit within the restoration.

It’s all simply so uninvolving, each from the participant’s perspective and the writing itself. It continuously meanders between characterization, and commentaries on the game’s mechanics, like a clumsy meshing between The Stanley Parable and Bastion. Farhad himself barely will get an opportunity to shine as a consequence of simply how little the game has to supply.

Even the potential academic side a game like The Tale of Bistun can present is thrown to the aspect for unknown causes. There’s a imprecise glimpse into the Persian tradition, just like the goddess Anahita offering Farhad with assist in his journey to avoid wasting Shirin, however the point out of Khosrow is lower than a footnote, failing to say something just like the Sassanid Empire, which Khosrow dominated.

That’s essentially the most disappointing factor about The Tale of Bistun, together with the technically missing facets of it. The game is sort of susceptible to a number of crashes (Something which Black Cube Games are conscious of and fixing), however its checkpoint system doesn’t really save progress. Say if a crash had been to occur halfway via a degree, then any collectibles you purchase must be discovered once more.

It’s a small niggle that quickly turns right into a nightmare, as some ranges have a number of factors of no return, for no explicit purpose. It’s not like they’re traps that lead you instantly right into a fight enviornment, as fights are all the time telegraphed beforehand, and there is not any place to stockpile sources like well being, which all the time returns to full after an enviornment is crushed. There aren’t any traps, no environmental hazards, simply boring fights.

The Tale of Bistun Review | Final Thoughts

It’s devastating to see all of the goodwill and hope drain from The Tale of Bistun as time goes on. While it’s paced appropriately, with sufficient story laid out for the participant to really feel just like the 5-6 hour marketing campaign is price it, there’s not rather a lot to glean from the expertise. It’s not sufficient of an academic useful resource about Persian tradition, it’s not a good retelling of the unique poem, and there’s not sufficient of a cultured core within the fight mechanics. As it stands, there’s a web page lacking. 


TechRaptor reviewed The Tale of Bistun on Xbox Series X utilizing a duplicate offered by the writer. The game can also be obtainable on Xbox One and PC.



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