Can You Enjoy The Tale of Bistun If You Don't Know The Story of Khosrow and Shirin?
Or should you read the poem first?
The Tale of Bistun
When I first came across The Tale of Bistun, I was intrigued by the visuals, the gameplay, and — perhaps most importantly — the story and setting. You see, for me, games based on things that are real (such as games where you can play as mythological gods — looking at you, God of War) is a big plus. I love anything about mythology, fiction, or even real-world events like World Wars (which is why I'll exclusively play the campaign in Call of Duty titles). So when I heard that The Tale of Bistun was inspired by an ancient Persian romance poem, I was immediately sold; that said, I've never read — or heard — of Khosrow and Shirin, so I was cautiously excited about the title. I decided, instead of reading the poem, I'd delve into The Tale of Bistun completely blind and see if, I'd be able to feel the entire essence of the narrative despite not knowing anything about the ancient poem.
I want to mention that this article is based on the demo available for The Tale of Bistun, which is a Next Fest version that only shows a fragment of what is to come in the full title. In it, I could see numerous cinematic sequences, along with a lot of dialogue between the All-Seeds and Farhad, the protagonist of the game. These conversation sequences manage to set a dynamic between Farhad and the world, as Farhad is entirely devoid of any memories of his past.
After playing through the demo, I understood the story quite well because of how it's all presented. Each cinematic sequence in which Farhad remembers things feels abstract but is concisely explained the scene after as he carves through the mountain. What? Did I forget to mention this world is set in a mythological setting?
Once I'd finished the demo and read up a bit on Khosrow and Shirin, I came to realise that perhaps you're better off experiencing The Tale of Bistun without knowing anything about the poem. Though I'm not saying that you'll be missing out if you know how the story unravels — it's the opposite; you'll be gratified with hints of the story — you can most definitely enjoy the game without any prior knowledge of the poem. In fact, I'd argue that The Tale of Bistun was built expecting none of its players to know much about the story. The narrative connection you have with Farhad through not knowing and having the story unravel is something you'll miss out on if you know how Khosrow and Shirin goes.
If you were considering reading Khosrow and Shirin before playing The Tale of Bistun, I recommend you don't; the way the narrative has unravelled thus far works beautifully for newcomers to the poem. Knowing more about it would break the connection that you as the clueless player and Farhad share through obliviousness.
The Tale of Bistun
If you’re excited for The Tale of Bistun, whether because you know the tale of Khosrow and Shirin or because the game and its premise themselves intrigue you, then make sure to check it out here in Fanatical! The game is exclusively up for pre-order on Steam from our website, and you won’t get it at a higher discount anywhere else! Hint hint, it’s on quite a substantial offer!