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Bard's Tale The Bard's Tale IV Pre-Release Thread [RELEASED, GO TO NEW THREAD]

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
And here we go. This "trusted review" seems to have leaked out early: https://www.trustedreviews.com/reviews/bards-tale-iv-barrows-deep

The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep

Had you asked me a decade ago who waits more than a few years on a video game sequel, I might have shrugged. Now, older, wiser and hardened by my own experiences, I know that a decade is nothing.

Fans of The Bard’s Tale have waited a whopping 30 years for a sequel to the last instalment in the franchise, The Bard’s Tale III: Thief of Fate, and now InXile Entertainment has got them covered. InXile is by now a bit of a specialist in resurrecting old CRPG favourites. Whether it’s direct sequels to a gaming franchise such as Wastelands II or spiritual successors like Torment: Tides of Numenera, the studio creates modern versions of classic RPGs, trying to preserve what made them so enjoyable in the first place.

The Bard’s Tale IV is a first person dungeon crawler. Every place you enter is laid out on an intricate map that uncovers while you walk. It’s likely you’ll get lost, but you almost always find something when that happens, such as treasure or new pathways and quests to discover later.

The game’s main setting is the town of Skara Brae, which is designed almost like a hub world, as it gives access to several different parts of the main dungeon from several different points of the city. In addition to these various access points, different items, magic or just good old keys can also open new paths. You unlock new environments in a very organic matter, so once you have found a key or learnt a spell to rid yourself of an obstacle, you likely already know where to use it. If not, short, unobtrusive tutorials will show you how to use any skill you need to advance.

As the name suggests, The Bard’s Tale IV is all about bards, the most-beloved or hated character class in pen and paper RPGs, depending on who you ask. In practice this means that you have an unexpectedly musical game on your hands. Not only does The Bard’s Tale IV have a beautiful Gaelic folk soundtrack, many NPCs sing. Using songs is also a viable game mechanic. Over the course of the game you learn different songs that help you solve puzzles by moving objects, restoring or destroying them, and even making the hidden visible.

Unfortunately there’s hardly any trial and error involved in using a song. If you’ve just learnt a new song, the part of the dungeon you’re in is going to be all about you using it, giving you colourful runes to sing at in order to activate something.

Of course you also run into enemies on your travels. Once they spot you, they immediately attack, so depending on the strength of your opponent, which is visible by a coloured icon above their head, it’s very important you get the drop on them first to avoid immediately being wiped out.

The round-based combat takes place on a grid layout. Characters can stand in the front or in the back, and each grid has several columns you can move to. In each round you have fixed number of opportunity points to spend between all characters. Every action has a cooldown period, some attacks and buffs require a charging period first. At first it’s a nice tactical challenge to decide on your actions for each turn, as you often need to think ahead and make the choice between attack and defence and cleverly manage your cooldown periods between the members of your party, too.

Unfortunately, that tactical element completely wears off once you realise enemies always make the same choices. You can meet the same type of enemy twice in a row and never need to adjust your strategy at all. Additionally, The Bard’s Tale IV limits the number of actions you can equip at a time to four, plus movement and an item. Instead of being a tactical challenge, it simply leads to a hunt for a good skill combination, which you then won’t have to change for hours, if ever.

The Bard’s Tale is also not a good-looking game by any stretch of the imagination. While talking, characters open and close their mouths vaguely if they remember to, and any dungeon that isn’t made out of grey stone from the get go will turn into grey stone the further you move down the various corridors. This could be a conscious throwback to the hallways of old dungeon crawlers, but in a modern game a bit of variation wouldn’t go amiss.

Apart from the hallways, there are several design decisions that made sense in the eighties but are simply frustrating now. Dungeons are designed so you can either navigate them freely or activate the old style of movement that had you turn your character in any given direction by 90 degrees. This is a fun idea, but The Bard’s Tale IV is a clipping nightmare. Wherever you turn, you are bound to get stuck on the smallest things, like the edge of a wall just out of your vision. You also either have to stand right in front of items at exactly the right angle so the prompt for an action appears, or fiddle with the elusive ratio of close, but not too close until the prompt stops flickering.

The Bard’s Tale uses also save points instead of an autosave feature. At most save points you can decide whether to save or destroy the save point permanently for an XP boost. Like limiting your skill slots, this is meant as a challenge, but if you implement such a feature in 2018, you better make damn sure your game doesn’t randomly crash. Again. And again.

Lastly, the story in The Bard’s Tale IV is largely negligible. You find out everything you need to know right in the pre-game intro sequence – evil gods have been imprisoned in a realm from which all they can do is charm susceptible people to try and free them. You’ve stopped such people three times before, now do it again. This is literally what the game says. From then on out, every plot point is completely transparent thanks to The Bard’s Tale IV’s habit of unintentionally spoiling you – if someone in your party says “I hope we won’t be too late” expect to be too late.

Characters are completely devoid of personality, and while there is clearly a lot of effort in the voice acting, including the use of actual Scottish people for characters with Scottish accents (which in this world is almost everyone), the quality of it varies so wildly that even the most heartfelt scene becomes comical.

Verdict
Without the bugs, The Bard’s Tale is okay at best. With them, it’s perhaps best to preserve your nostalgia and play the HD remaster of The Bard’s Tale I to III instead.

Score
2/5

Hopefully it's not representative.
 

Roguey

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The Bard’s Tale is also not a good-looking game by any stretch of the imagination. While talking, characters open and close their mouths vaguely if they remember to, and any dungeon that isn’t made out of grey stone from the get go will turn into grey stone the further you move down the various corridors.

50 gb
 

Jinn

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Well, the good news is the "trusted review" is a shitty tech review site not even specializing in games. On the other hand, it is inXile, so :shrug: guess we'll see.
 

fantadomat

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And here we go. This "trusted review" seems to have leaked out early: https://www.trustedreviews.com/reviews/bards-tale-iv-barrows-deep

snip
Score
2/5

Hopefully it's not representative.
That reviews is pretty useless,a lot of vagueness and lack of clearness in it. After reading it all i understood is that the game looks ok,the grid movement is shit and there is checkpoint system. For such a low score he should have gone a lot more in details. Most codexers here could do better review than this.
 

Deleted Member 22431

Guest
It's what bothers me the most about him recently: I don't feel a single bit of sincerity in anything he says, it's all calculated PR speak. At this point, Todd Howard is more genuine.
Only recently? Dude, please.

That reviews is pretty useless.

Unfortunately, that tactical element completely wears off once you realise enemies always make the same choices. You can meet the same type of enemy twice in a row and never need to adjust your strategy at all.

This point is informative enough.
 

Gord

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Feb 16, 2011
Messages
7,049
The link Inxile sent out in the E-Mail sends you to part two of the survey, but you need to click on part one and then select either Steam or GoG from the pulldown menu under Bard's Tale 4. The key should arrive about five minutes later if you do that.
I re-opened the survey twice, completing All pages again. Still no luck. Well, I have wörk to do anyway right now...
 

agris

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The Bard’s Tale is also not a good-looking game by any stretch of the imagination. While talking, characters open and close their mouths vaguely if they remember to, and any dungeon that isn’t made out of grey stone from the get go will turn into grey stone the further you move down the various corridors.

50 gb
I told y’all. It ain’t a pretty game, and runs like a dog.
 

Curratum

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Good thing that used i5 came through just today, time to throw that fucking i3 in the garbage.
 

BEvers

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https://www.gamegrin.com/reviews/the-bards-tale-iv-barrows-deep-review/

The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep Review
Talk to anyone old enough to remember computer gaming in the 80s and they’ll more than likely remember the original The Bard’s Tale games. Old-school party based dungeon crawlers that required patience and a lot of graph paper as you mapped your way around the iconic town of Skara Brae. The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep takes us back to Skara Brae with modern visuals and revamped gameplay in this long-awaited sequel.

The Bard’s Tale IV, like it’s prequels, is a party-based dungeon-crawling RPG. Unlike the old games however you don’t make your entire party before you begin your adventure, Barrows Deep takes a more narrative focused route allowing you to customise the initial Bard before adding various NPCs to your party as you go through the story.

Set 150 years after The Bard’s Tale III: Thief of Fate, the land of Caith in which Skara Brae resides has a new order known as the Fatherites making the rounds and they, for some reason, are determined to cleanse the land of anything connected to the supernatural. Taking their cause to the extreme they are attempting to rid the world of Elves, Dwarves and Trow along with any adventurer that would cast doubt on their way of thinking.

Evil of course finds a way to prosper and it’s through this setup of persecution that a great enemy from the series’ past finds a way to return. It’s up to you and your party of adventurers to put an end to evil in all its forms as you pick up your lute and bash the heads of monsters to set things right.

The first thing you’ll perhaps notice is that the game is exceptionally pretty, it uses Unreal Engine 4 and is not shy about using lots of primary and neon colours to keep things visually striking. Even though the game is still predominantly designed around grids you have full first-person movement which allows the environments to really shine. The Skara Brae from the old games has been completely hidden below ground, beneath the new surface-level Skara Brae allowing some vastly different environments.

Audio has also always been important to the series, with the titular Bard’s tunes being an important part of its identity. Bard’s Tale IV goes all in with this, the whole game embraces Gaelic folk music throughout, it even goes so far as to have a vast amount of voicework done by Scottish actors and actresses. This lends the game a truly unique feel and it’s all the better for it.

The world is structured in an almost metroidvania-like manner, with areas inaccessible until you learn the correct exploration song to open the way. The magic of music and sound is prevalent throughout and makes a lot of sense thematically.

Your progress through the game is blocked by a variety of puzzles which are physically in the world. These have you completing a number of cognitive teasers like mechanical cog puzzles that require you to slide cogs around to turn specific endpoints to open doors or turn off flame traps. Each dungeon introduces a new type of puzzle to wrap your head around which keeps things interesting as you progress.

There are numerous nods to the prior games, characters, places and events all get mentioned in a way that veterans will smile at whilst not alienating newcomers. There is a reverence for the original trilogy that shines through in many parts of the game, from the recreation of the original box-art in live action upon loading through to audio cues and dialog, it very clearly is a Bard’s Tale game in spirit.

There are however a lot of changes to how the game plays and its systems, especially when it comes to combat and levelling up. Combat now takes place on a four by four grid, with your party members on the bottom half of the screen and the enemies on the top. Each of the four classes, ranging from the titular Bard with their musical buffs to the Practitioner’s mental attacks have a range of attacks that affect a particular pattern of squares on the grid.

Positioning is critical and the combination of moving party members out of danger whilst setting up combo attacks makes for an extremely interesting turn-based system that is as far removed from the original titles’ attack spam as you can get. A lot of moves take time to prepare or channel which means planning ahead or manoeuvring so you can interrupt an enemy’s channel gives the combat a strategic edge that wasn’t really in the original games.

Combining your Bard’s buffs with moves that move enemies around before you punish them by setting them on fire never gets old and the system is extremely satisfying. Even rogues prove useful after being relegated to the sidelines in the originals, striking from the shadows being extremely potent here.

Levelling up gives you skill points to spend in a variety of trees per class, again a divergence from the original games, although visiting the Review Board to advance once you reach certain thresholds returns. Oddly levelling up doesn’t improve character statistics like strength and intelligence, with those mostly being affected by gear this time around.

Combined with only four classes, this does make levelling up feel somewhat less exciting but the skill trees do provide opportunity for differing playstyles. These changes might upset series veterans as being distinctly unlike the 80s titles but they fit the more accessible take on the genre Barrows Deep is trying to be.

In the end, The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep is trying to balance being a sequel to arguably one of gaming’s most hardcore RPG series whilst keeping the essence of those games intact and bringing it to a new audience. It’s love for the prior games is clear whilst playing and in its own right is a fantastic modernisation of the genre that is easy to recommend beyond nostalgia for the past.



The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
The Bard’s Tale IV revisits the classic dungeon-crawling formula from years past, simultaneously showing reverence for its history whilst not being afraid to change it up mechanically. Visually stunning with a wonderful Gaelic folk soundtrack to go with it.
 

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Re: visuals, I think what you're going to see with this game is a split between people who are squicked out by the character models and those who appreciate the overall art direction of the environments etc.
 

Strange Fellow

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Re: visuals, I think what you're going to see with this game is a split between people who are squicked out by the character models and those who appreciate the overall art direction of the environments etc.


trustedreviews said:
any dungeon that isn’t made out of grey stone from the get go will turn into grey stone the further you move down the various corridors. This could be a conscious throwback to the hallways of old dungeon crawlers, but in a modern game a bit of variation wouldn’t go amiss.
gamegrin said:
Even though the game is still predominantly designed around grids you have full first-person movement which allows the environments to really shine. The Skara Brae from the old games has been completely hidden below ground, beneath the new surface-level Skara Brae allowing some vastly different environments.
:kingcomrade:
 

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth


I assume he's continuing from where he was yesterday. Maybe theSavant finally gets to see some non-beta content.

Of course he'll be able to do that himself in a few hours.
 
Last edited:

Morkar Left

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Brian getting bored of retirement already


His last game barely sold 100k, and even Grimrock 1 barely broke 1 million, he knows this is pure bullshit and is just trying to create hype and bait journos into giving him free promotion.

It's what bothers me the most about him recently: I don't feel a single bit of sincerity in anything he says, it's all calculated PR speak. At this point, Todd Howard is more genuine.


I don't think that's just pr speak. I guess losing Interplay was a serious blow to his personality and he would actually like to undo that. If he thinks that it is really realistic is a whole different story.
 

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