Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story Review — A Bittersweet Send-Off to Riot Forge

Bandle Tale, the last title from Riot's collaborative publisher, Riot Forge, sends the studio off with a bittersweet but powerful bang.
Bandle Tale Featured

Bandle Tale opens on your player-created Yordle, a knitter living in Yarnville with dreams of seeing the rest of Bandle City and experiencing some of the great parties thrown across the islands. Held back by your disabled leg, everything is changed when Gramps, your knitting instructor, knits you a magical prosthetic leg, allowing you to run, skip, and, better yet, explore the world around you. Unfortunately, the first party you attend becomes an utter disaster, and it’s up to you to restore Bandle City’s broken portals and save your friend Clover from a terrible fate.

Bandle Tale is a crafting sim that closely follows an adventurous story. It’s less about tending to your farm in perpetuity and more about rescuing the home of the Yordles. Crafting is treated more as a means to an end than the main goal. For example, a mission requiring you to fix a balloon-powered airship will require you to learn several crafting recipes, including rubber knitting, before progressing.

Crafting recipes are locked behind experience points, and the recipes you need to progress a mission are never simply given to you for free. I really liked this approach. It allows a certain amount of open-world freedom alongside the guided narrative path. If you don’t have the knowledge you need to progress, you must venture off and gain the experience necessary to progress.

Bandle Tale Journalism
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Experience gained in Bandle Tale is done through emotions and dreaming, representing how the Yordles shape their magical world of Bandle City. Each activity you do slowly fills up some of your Emotion Orbs, of which you have a set amount you can fill each day that increases over time. Once you sleep, you dream these emotions into skill points, gaining one per orb filled. You can then spend these skill points to unlock new crafting recipes and abilities to help you save Bandle City.

Not all of these skills are available to unlock from the start, with skills further down the skill tree being locked by badges in your journal. You can unlock these Bandle Scout badges by completing associated quests listed under each badge.

I wanted to criticize Bandle Tale initially for what was seemingly a lack of direction. There were times when I felt stuck. One time, I was very early on in the game when I was told to heat an oven but found the heating element to have no interactable UI. Fortunately, this turned out to be my poor attention span at work, as I needed to unlock a crafting recipe in my skill book to unlock this feature, which the quest UI had told me.

Bandle Tale Backpack
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Something I really appreciate about Bandle Tale is how the game treats Yordles like people. League lore seems to jump back and forth between Yordles being a serious race of fae-like creatures and actual pure balls of innocence to be used for nothing more than a gag. Bandle Tale is not guilty of this sin.

Don’t get me wrong, the game is all about throwing parties and having a great time. It just never feels obnoxiously cute, with a tremendous whimsical fae vibe as you explore the phantasmagorical home of the Yordles. Pair this with plenty of witty and sarcastic humor and some seriously terrifying concepts (like the space between portals), and you have a game that all ages can truly enjoy.

Bandle Tale Party
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Parties are a major game mechanic, where you gather the emotions of the Yordles attending and use them to power Bandle City’s downed portals. They require a sort of strategic thinking, leading to what I call strategic party planning. You must have the right vibes to attract certain guests, affected by the location and the attractions you set up at your party, and with a budget also in place. It keeps you from simply maxing each qualifier out.

If you need to earn some money (or “stars”), you can also serve food in what is a surprisingly addicting cafe minigame where you cook and serve the local Yordle populace their chosen dishes within a limited amount of time.

One of my favorite things about Bandle Tale is its inclusion of my favorite Yordle champions: Tristana, Veigar, Lulu, and Rumble are just some of the names you’ll run into during your adventures restoring the portals in Bandle City. These characters, beloved by many League players, are portrayed fabulously by Lazy Bear’s writers, and interacting with them is always fun. While being pretty lore-light compared to some of Riot Forge’s other releases, the game does a phenomenal job of letting us get to know the characters better, giving us more chances to see their personality in action through the game’s many lines of dialogue. It is also always fun to gather your favorite characters at a party of your own and see how they interact on the dance floor or buffet table.

Bandle Tale Trist
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

As great as Bandle Tale was, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad as I neared the end of my Yordle adventure. Bandle Tale is a bittersweet send-off to Riot Forge, which Riot Games closed earlier this month. The studio’s closing comes alongside a decision from Riot to shutter other game ideas and focus on League of Legends, which means Bandle Tale may be the last spinoff game we see set in the Runterra universe, at least for a while. All I can hope is that Bandle Tale receives the attention and success it deserves, and Riot rethinks this move.

Thankfully, Lazy Bear Games, the developers behind the title, will continue to amaze us with new releases, and I can’t wait to see what else they have in store.

The Final Word

Bandle Tale captures the essence of the Yordles’ fantastical home and delivers a delightful and bittersweet experience. As Riot Forge’s final contribution before its closure, Bandle Tale stands as a testament to the studio’s collaborative genius, the creativity and clever game design of Lazy Bear Games, and leaves players with a fond farewell to spinoffs set in the Runeterra universe, at least for the foreseeable future.

10

Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Bandle Tale is available on Steam, Epic Games, and Nintendo Switch.

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges is a hobby writer and a professional gamer, at least if you asked him. He has been writing fiction for over 12 years and gaming practically since birth, so he knows exactly what to nitpick when dissecting a game's story. When he isn't reviewing games, he's probably playing them.

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