Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story Review – League Gets Crafty

Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story Review

What do you get when you take one of the most popular gaming IPs in the world and blend it with an equally beloved genre? You probably get something very much like Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story. Set in the LoL universe, Lazy Bear’s game is a pixel art-style crafting RPG with an emphasis on wholesome, family fun and a relaxing, happy vibe.

League of Legends is more than an incredibly popular esport game. It’s the center of a gaming juggernaut that includes games in many genres and Arcane, one of the best animated sci-fi fantasy series ever made. While the developers are quick to point out that Bandle Tale doesn’t require experience with League of Legends, there is plenty of fan service peppered throughout Bandle Tale’s 40+ hour runtime. Locations and NPCs from League are around every corner.

Return to Runeterra

In Bandle Tale, you play as a yordle, one of Runeterra’s most benevolent races. Yordles are cute little furry spirits with a strong social drive and command of powerful magic. Both of these characteristics play an important role in the game. For example, one of the most efficient ways of earning stars, which unlock new upgrades, items and abilities, is to host yordle dance parties.

Bandle Tale has a simple narrative premise that plays out over dozens of hours. With Bandle City at the center hub, there are a handful of themed floating districts, connected by magic portals. At the start of the game, a magical explosion destroys the portals, isolating the population of each area. Your overarching task is restoring the portals and reuniting the various groups of yordles.

Of course, repairing theportals is a bit of a McGuffin. That might be the end goal, but moment-to-moment gameplay is focused on gathering, farming, crafting and completing quests for NPCs. Whatever strengths and weaknesses Bandle Tale has come from the implementation of those core mechanics.

Spinning a Yarn

You play as one of the few remaining crafters who work their magic with yarn, piles of which you find around the world. At the start of the game, all you can do is make some simple tools. But as in all crafting games, you keep unlocking new blueprints, recipes, tools and abilities. At every moment you’re completing quests to unlock new stuff or using that stuff to explore further from home base.

Maybe Bandle Tale’s biggest new contribution to the genre is that your character’s house can magically fit inside a backpack. This means that instead of trekking across the map you can place your house and all its upgraded crafting stations in different locations as you explore. The interior of your house looks nothing like the exterior, which always retains the same backpack look.

Bandle Tale’s narrative arc is surprisingly developed and the game definitely leans into its RPG elements more than many chill crafting games. At the same time, the game’s tone never really changes or gains momentum. There is no combat or violence (maybe aside from farming) and nary a hint of darkness. The developers were obviously committed to a family-friendly, all ages experience.

Drama Free

The problem is that a sustained narrative requires at least some meaningful conflict, drama and choices that matter, and Bandle Tale offers little of those. There are thousands of unskippable lines of dialogue to read and almost none of it is artful, funny or emotionally affecting. There are some fourth-wall-breaking moments and characters, and lots of references to League of Legends for, I guess, older gamers. While the crafting system is accessible to young players, I’m not sure that the story’s tone hits the mark for any specific age range. There are some incredibly meaningless, unfunny quests that make Bandle Tale feel unnecessarily padded out.

Players of games like Stardew Valley or its thousand clones and copies will intuitively understand crafting in Bandle Tale. That’s good, because the game sometimes omits key information, which can lead to getting stuck. 

Bandle Tale looks at first like a pixel art game, but the characters and environments are 3D. This trick helps give the world a more substantial feel and allows for a bit more complexity in environments and objects. It’s also notable that there’s no procedural generation. Everything is hand placed. Overall, the game is colorful, visually varied and often clever with its environments and how they relate to the story. There are a couple of annoyances, though. Some of the labyrinthine paths are tedious to trek over and over, and quite often important paths are entirely obscured by scenery. Several times, I spent way too long just backtracking, looking for the way forward. Both a detailed mini-map or the ability to rotate the camera would help.

Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story is a much more ambitious game than most crafting RPGs. It’s accessible to most patient gamers, too, whether they’ve played League or not. The crafting elements are good, if occasionally opaque. Unfortunately, the game’s unvaried tone and extended length padded out by some dull quests takes away some of the fun.

***PC code provided by the publisher for review***


The Good

  • Fun crafting
  • Accessible to young players
  • Interesting story
  • Lots of League fan service

The Bad

  • Too long
  • Dull dialogue
  • Some meaningless quests
  • A few poorly explained mechanics