League of Legends’ lore has grown so large and in-depth that it can no longer be contained by just the original game. It’s now spilled out into projects like Netflix animated series Arcane and the Riot Forge games. Each Riot Forge game is published by Riot and developed by a smaller studio with the freedom to explore a smaller slice of Runeterra. Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story is a crafting RPG set in the magical realm of the Yordles, and it’s the most whimsical Forge title yet.
The Yordles have a long and winding history in League of Legends. They’ve been part of the game since its original roster of 40 champions, and their lore has been reinvented and iterated upon over the last decade and change. While we’ve seen glimpses of the Bandlewood and Yordle society in Legends of Runeterra and League of Legends, the Yordles have always been a bit mysterious compared to the other factions in-game.
Enter Bandle Tale, a game set in Bandle City, the mysterious place from whence the Yordles came. The Yordles are small, furry creatures that serve as Runeterra’s equivalent to the fae. They’re mischievous tricksters, traveling across the mortal realms through mystical portals. The player begins Bandle Tale by making a Yordle of their very own, picking adorable accessories and a set of furry animal ears.
This is the first Riot Forge game with an original protagonist; every other League of Legends story has starred an existing champion. The player’s Yordle is an apprentice who has just wrapped up a 100-year crafting program on the humble island of Yarnville. Just when the Yordle hero is ready to set out and explore, something goes haywire, and the portals that connect Bandle City and allow entry to the mortal realms collapse. The protagonist’s knitting magic and ingenuity will be required to repair the portals and save the day.
Bandle Tale is a crafting RPG, which means it isn’t focused on typical combat. Instead, players need to craft items, explore the islands of Bandle City, and throw parties. The player character has a backpack that also doubles as a home base; they can drop their pack and have it turn into a spacious multi-room structure, perfect for knitting, cooking, and throwing parties.
Traveling through Bandle City feels warm and welcoming. The game’s pixel graphics look simple at first glance, but there’s a deeper complexity to the environments that keeps things interesting; some areas have 3D lighting, for example. Some zones have bright, autumn-esque colors, with floating islands connected by piano key bridges. Others are more pale and pastel, with impossible Escher-like architecture built into the terrain. It’s all familiar enough to feel cozy, but weird enough to feel like an extraplanar fae realm. There are also parts of the map that have been claimed by familiar League of Legends champions, like the dark and spooky castle occupied by nefarious mage Veigar.
As the player’s Yordle advances, they link these islands together, and their portable backpack base makes it easy to establish themselves on a new frontier.
In the process of saving the day and restoring these portals, the player will craft useful goods, throw big parties, fish Stardew Valley style, create stalls to serve piping-hot food, and go flying with League champion Corki. After a series of Riot Forge games centered around saving the world and engaging in high-octane battles, it’s a welcome change of pace to explore the weird realm of Bandle City, with lower stakes. Sure, the portals going down is pretty bad — but with your knitting magic and a cast of furry friends, there’s nothing you can’t take on. Bandle Tale is a game that’s all about enjoying the journey and stopping to smell the magical, oversized roses along the way.
Bandle Tale is developed by Lazy Bear Games, and it will be available in February for Switch and PC. The larger League of Legends universe hasn’t been able to delve into Bandle City and the Yordles in depth, and I’m glad this game offers a way to hang out with these funny, furry little guys. With the world of Runeterra so often being defined by war and conflict, and League of Legends itself being such a high-stress experience, it’s nice to be able to kick back, put your feet up, and plan a rockin’ dance party.