Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story

 

Review by · March 10, 2024

As a child of the 1980s, I spent my youth watching The Smurfs, Snorks, Fraggle Rock, and other assorted programs featuring communities of fantasy beings in imaginative worlds. By that line of thinking, my childhood self would have liked Yordles — a race of adorable, vividly colored, magical beings from the League of Legends universe. Yordles live in Bandle City, an enchanted realm consisting of several floating islands connected by teleportation portals. With my inner child’s curiosity piqued, I decided to check out the Yordle-centered crafting RPG Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story. Familiarity with League of Legends is not needed to play Bandle Tale, but those in the know will enjoy plenty of references.  

Bandle Tale‘s pixel art visuals look stunning in still screens and in motion. The delightful Yordles and their vibrant world feature lush, vivid colors and tons of smooth animations. There aren’t many locations, but each one is unique-looking and packed full of details. Bandle Tale‘s setting encourages you to stop, smell the roses, and allow each location’s vibe to envelop you. The graphics are easily Bandle Tale‘s crowning feature.

The whimsical yet complex music is good but doesn’t quite match Bandle Tale’s visual splendor. While the compositions are reasonably engaging to listen to without getting too repetitive, there aren’t enough of them. I would have liked a distinct title screen theme and greater number of unique location themes, to give a couple of examples. More compositions would have added variety to the soundtrack.

A delightful location in Bandle Tale with some pumpkin(ish) houses and flowing water.
Bandle Tale’s visuals are absolutely delightful.

Bandle Tale puts you in the role of a curious Yordle (whose appearance you customize) that just finished a century-long knitting apprenticeship in Yarnville, one of Bandle City’s outer islands. You want to celebrate by attending a massive party happening in Bandle City’s hub, but your stodgy mentor Gramps forbids it. Not to worry, because your clever friend Clover sneaks the two of you out of Yarnville and into the party. Once at the party, you help the host, Ozzy, with some last-minute preparations for the party’s grand finale. Unfortunately, it goes awry and a massive explosion destabilizes and obliterates the transport portals, leaving many Yordles high and dry. To make things worse, the unstable portal claims Ozzy and Clover. The quest to restore the portals and save your friends through the power of knitting is afoot.

Despite the dire situation, Bandle Tale lacks any sense of urgency to drive it. The world is in chaos and your friends are missing, yet the overall vibe is laid-back. Perhaps too laid-back. That mismatch between a desperate save-the-world plot and the overly relaxed slice-of-life storytelling jarred me. There were some cute, if shallow, plotlines, but those felt more like disjointed vignettes than a fully cohesive story. Brief storytelling snippets only occur between lengthy periods of play, so those expecting a compelling narrative could be disappointed. 

Bandle Tale features no combat, as the game’s premise is that a fractured world is stitched together by a newly anointed knitter. The focus is on crafting, so the gameplay revolves around gathering raw materials, refining them, and transforming them into objects and resources to cultivate land, rebuild communities, and reconnect the world through various crafting quests. It’s helpful to adopt a point-and-click mindset rather than an RPG one for Bandle Tale.

Screenshot of Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story, with characters situated in a colorful little outdoor market space.
There is a time and a place to party: always and anywhere!

Yordles’ emotional bonds with others fuel the magic used to connect the islands of Bandle City, so a large part of physically connecting the world is bringing communities together via pop-up food stands, parties, and other events. Yordles love to party, so Bandle Tale’s goal is to throw the most epic party in all of Yordle history to generate enough positive emotional energy to fully restore the broken portal system.  

Bandle Tale plays best in small doses rather than marathon sessions since its gameplay gets repetitive, and progression often drags over its lengthy 40+ hour course. When elements fell into place and I got into a good rhythm, Bandle Tale was decently fun. Unfortunately, those moments were few and far between. Doing various tasks or unlocking the prerequisite skills to do so often took longer than necessary. I sometimes invested points into skills I thought were cool but were not needed to progress, so I frequently got stuck. I knew what I needed to do to get unstuck, but unlocking the “right” skills and earning skill points to allocate were tedious grinds. It didn’t help that additional gameplay systems stacked on top of each other throughout the game, making otherwise straightforward crafting tasks needlessly convoluted. That said, diligent players willing to invest time into learning the systems well enough to exploit them can find workarounds.

I played using a gamepad, and the control scheme worked fine for me. I needed to learn the interface and get used to the controls, but once I got my sea legs, I fell into a decent groove. Ironically, I found the mouse and keyboard controls more awkward than gamepad controls when, upon first glance, Bandle Tale seems like it would function better with a mouse and keyboard scheme. Unfortunately, there is no way to change the button mapping.

Teemo makes an appearance in Bandle Tale.
Characters from League of Legends proper say “hi” in Bandle Tale.

The menu interface could use some refinement as well. For example, equipment, items, and raw materials all exist in the same inventory. Separate categories would have kept the inventory more organized. A quick way to switch between the various multi-tools you can equip for material gathering would have been nice too. While I’m at it, multi-tools that don’t break would have been great because breaking a multi-tool while gathering materials and then having to make a new one is not fun.    

Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story has lovely visuals and some solid ideas, but felt like an overlong rough draft in need of editing before going to print. I needed to call upon all my patience and perseverance to get through Bandle Tale. There were even times when I had to step away from the game for a night or two and return to it with a fresh mind. Spurts of fun were flanked by lengthy stretches that dragged, making playtime feel artificially padded. If Bandle Tale were shorter and more tightly focused, it would have been a more pleasurable experience with fewer lulls and more cohesive storytelling. Bandle Tale may not be perfect, but Bandle City and the Yordles are a wellspring of good multimedia material, so I hope to see more Yordle-centered League of Legends material in the future.


Pros

Gorgeous graphics.

Cons

Disjointed story, gameplay often drags.

Bottom Line

Pretty, but grindy.

Graphics
90
Sound
75
Gameplay
62
Control
68
Story
60
Overall Score 71
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Neal Chandran

Neal Chandran

Neal is the PR manager at RPGFan but also finds time to write occasional game or music reviews and do other assorted tasks for the site. When he isn't networking with industry folks on behalf of RPGFan or booking/scheduling appointments for press events, Neal is an educator, musician, cyclist, gym rat, and bookworm who has also dabbled in voiceover work and motivational speaking.