REVIEW | The Tale of Bistun

REVIEW | The Tale of Bistun

LifeisXbox’s The Tale of Bistun review | The Tale of Bistun is a story-driven experience created by our friends Black Cube Games from the Netherlands. Their debut game by the way! An ancient Persian settings is used to tell the story and visuals, making it a bit similar to Raji: An Ancient Epic (review). Is it as good? The short answer is no, but it is still a very enjoyable game to invest time in. You will read the detailed reasons here. Before we start with that, I recommend you to read or Google the poetry piece Khosrow and Shirin, since the game got a lot of inspiration from there. Don’t feel like it, or have you read that? Then let’s continue with the review of The Tale of Bistun.

What we Liked!

  • Interesting story to follow | Your playable character Farhad wakes up with amnesia. I know… before you start rolling your eyes, I’m aware this is an overused story-element but it remains a great way to deliver an engaging way to tell a story. Fairly quickly Farhad learns a way to remember what happened, thanks to not-so-usual allies. What follows is a tale of love and hate, cultural-stories and the difference between good & bad. Persian culture and mythology is used for all characters and objects making it a learning experience too. Something I personally love, you can’t call them educational games but the respect for the source material is awesome. Examples are the previously mentioned Raji or Never Alone. That last one is about the Iñupiat, if you haven’t played it.
  • Voice-actors and music | Shohreh Aghdashloo, does that ring a bell? When the game starts and the menu cutscene begins you will recognize the voice, at least if you have seen The Expanse. One of the best Sci-fi series available to watch on Prime. There is a lot of narration while playing, and with a lot I mean like an ant colony. It hardly ever stops but that’s not a bad thing. It keeps the otherwise linear and repetitive nature interesting and fun, take the storytelling and narration away and you would end up with something far less memorable. Also very cool, is that the music is completely atmospheric to what is going on. You can immediately hear little cultural additions, which is a great added value.
  • Earth and the dream world environments | The levels are split into two different visual aesthetics. One that takes place on Earth and the others some sort of dream world or realm. Especially with the dream world they very linear and don’t even have combat, besides boss fights. On Earth things don’t change regarding the linear paths but you can find some hidden small area’s with lore on stone tablets or statues to carve. Visually the game doesn’t stand out from others, it looks decent enough and the dream world is good for some nice screenshots but it isn’t the most attractive indie game. That’s fine by the way, as The Tale of Bistun has other ways to stand out from the crowd.

Mixed Feelings

  • Combat can become repetitive and uninspired | The combat gameplay is a somewhat bland affair. They forgot to add salt and pepper. Pasta not cooked in salt for example, still tasty but it could be better. Despite there being no less than three different weapons, there is little to no difference in the actual actions. The predictably fast, slow but powerful and one that is somewhat in between. You know, like in most other games. The lack of any challenge and the repetitiveness of the enclosed spaces with a number of enemies to kill is soon something you’re happy to leave behind.

What we Disliked

  • Camera bugs | I tweeted an example about it, as this is better explained by looking at it. The fixed camera bugged out on me on three seperate occasions and levels. As if the game thought the character was walking around somewhere else. A quick checkpoint reload didn’t fix the issue, I had to use the restart level option for it to go away. In a short game of three-to-four hours it is extra sour to have to deal with these kinds of technical bugs. Something that will hopefully be patched soon?

How long to beat the story | About three or four hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Four to five hours


The Tale of Bistun has become a fine debut for Black Cube Games. There are memorable moments in it but it is kept a little too simple, both for the difficulty and the game itself. A big applause though for the voice actors and the way the story is told to the player.

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