The Ballad Singer is a new Kickstarter funded indie game from developer Curtel Games currently in Early Access on Steam. Did you ever read those Choose Your Own Adventure novels as a kid? Do you like high fantasy like Dungeons & Dragons? Well the The Ballad Singer is best described as the digital combination of these two things. I recently got a chance to delve into this interactive novel and was very impressed even with it being the early version of the game.
While not a typical game, or even a typical RPG, The Ballad Singer is more of an interactive story. Players choose from four different characters at the start, each an inhabitant of the fictional world Hesperia. It doesn’t really matter who you choose first, as you will be going back and playing out each section with each to fully to get the depth and all the enjoyment out of the game.
Using what the developer has dubbed The Domino System; players are given choices and depending on how they proceed there are thousands of outcomes. Each choice you make may lead to that characters demise or failure on your quest, and as such every playthrough you are awarded 15 chances to go back and try again. Once these are gone though your choices are final. This creates a dynamic story and tons of replay ability in The Ballad Singer.
Visually The Ballad Singer is full of painted scenes with minimal movement. Do not go into this game expecting awesome graphics, but if you appreciate fantasy artwork, there is a great amount of it here and it is all very well done. What most impressed me in my time with The Ballad Singer was the voice work and music. The actors are very professional and the quality is fantastic. The narrator and characters rely heavily on the different accents and the voice work to tell the tale and are differentiated by these actors and you can tell they took the job very seriously.
Musically The Ballad Singer is supported by a soundtrack from two professional composers and it shows. The orchestrated songs bring you into the story just as much as the voice actors and each character has their own distinct theme music. I have been enjoying the music so much that even when I would step away from my screen to take a break I would leave it running in the background and it’s soothing flow became background to whatever I was doing.
While these features are great, the meat of the game is the story. While the game is not complete at this time, I was able to restart twice so far, recollecting my previous failures and going further into the tale. I was very impressed with the skillful storytelling and found myself being drawn into these characters and their world. That really is the point of The Ballad Singer and it’s interactive storybook concept.
While not for everyone, fans of fantasy games and literature will appreciate the work that went into the The Ballad Singer. Players will be able to spend hours re-reading and progressing down a different path in the system Curtel Games created. The Ballad Singer is the perfect game to play on your lunch to unwind or like in my case if you have a tablet PC, on the go. I can see this medium being the future of novels and only expanding if their popularity grows. If you are looking for a good read and throwback to your childhood, reading and re-reading Choose Your Adventure novels, then give The Ballad Singer a go.
The Ballad Singer is available now in Early Release for PC via Steam. This article is based on the version provided at the time of it’s release by the publisher for that purpose.