The Ballad Singer is a role-playing game that is also a decision-based visual novel. The game has been developed and published by Curtel Games. It was released to play through Early Access via Steam on the 27th September 2018 and is currently only available to play on PC. Curtel Games have the game presented on Kickstarter, and through that website you can make a donation toward their funding, which will develop the game further. Curtel Games have a current goal of bringing The Ballad Singer to the PlayStation 4 after the game has been fully released and after raising enough funding.
The Ballad Singer Story
At the moment, The Ballad Singer has an extremely short story. You begin by playing as two of the main characters in a short prologue. After you have completed the prologue, you can then play as two other characters with a slightly longer portion of their stories. I had completed the whole thing in around two and a half hours. I understand that the game is in the process of being released, so for now a short version of the game is to be expected. Each character has their own story, but each story ties into those of the other characters. The whole story is focused on the imaginary world of Hesperia.
The Ballad Singer plays like a decision-based novel that has many different aspects. With a name like The Ballad Singer, there is a huge musical element. You have a narrator for each character that reads the story aloud. There is also a book on the left side of the screen that you choose to follow as the narrator reads. On the right of the screen, you have your choices of what to do next. Finally, in the background, you have images illustrating what is happening in that moment. This gives you as the reader a great image of how everything is supposed to look in each part of the story.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
The greatest thing about The Ballad Singer is the music. You can tell that there has been a huge focus on the musical aspect and sound as a whole. The background music fits well to each situation and is easy to listen to. Sometimes, if music is constantly in the background, it can be distracting or irritating, but The Ballad Singer presents us with classical and beautiful music that only adds to the experience of playing the game. The narrators within the game are also brilliant. Some of them will give you a bit of a giggle because they are unexpected and unusual.
Another great thing about The Ballad Singer is the story itself. I was devastated when the game ended so abruptly. I was presented with a screen that stated it was the end of the Early Access. When following the story of each character, I was completely invested and intrigued about what would happen next. As I delved further into the story, I just wanted to know more. The fact that there are narrators made the game much easier to follow. If I am forced to read a visual novel myself, I tend to become bored, so the narrators and the wide variety of different voices for the characters kept me interested. I also like that you have the choice to listen to the narrators or to read the story yourself.
The biggest issue with The Ballad Singer is the spontaneous disappearance of key aspects to the game. There were points in the game where the book on the left side of the screen wouldn’t appear. This meant I needed to listen carefully to the narrators to make sure I didn’t miss anything. There were other times where the narrators were missing, so I was forced to read a few pages and make my next decision, and then the narrators would be back on the next set of pages. There are also an alarmingly large number of spelling mistakes, which you think would have been checked many times for a visual novel.
Another issue is that the narrators would only read some of what was written. They would read some of the text and then skip ahead. The narrators would also read some stuff that wasn’t there at all. Furthermore, at the end of the Early Access for the game, I was unable to go back to the title screen. I found that none of the buttons on the screen worked at that point. I had to access my task manager on my PC to end the game. Overall, the game has a lot of different issues that will definitely need to be addressed before the game is fully released.
The Ballad Singer was an interesting little game. I enjoyed it because of the great story behind it and the amazing music. The narrators were a brilliant key aspect, and without them the game probably would have been quite boring. However, the game has quite a lot of issues that will need to be resolved before it is fully released, but I am looking forward to playing the rest of it when it has been completed. I am very hopeful that the game will be quite long when it is finished, and I hope the issues are fixed. A great addition to the game would be even more characters, especially some more powerful and strong women. There is only one female character at the moment, and she is nowhere near as powerful as the male characters.
Developer: Curtel Games
Publisher: Curtel Games
Release Date: 27th September 2018