inXile entertainment‘s The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep offers fantasy atmosphere in spades for fans of traditional dungeon crawlers and epic computer RPGs.
After the classic Bard’s Tale trilogy was recently released to ignite old and new gamers’ flame of love for the genre, the newest addition to the series is finally here, and it looks to be a rather good idea to play those games first, as the plot seems to be a lot more fun to get into with a bit of background knowledge. A new evil has been waiting in the shadows for a while to finally show its ugly face, but there are also fanatics that have persecuted members of the once famous Adventurer’s Guild, so it’s time for a hero to rise up against the injustices and world-destroying dangers with a group of like-minded individuals.
As with every RPG, customization is key, as choosing between four character classes (Bard, Fighter, Practitioner, and Rogue) means also to decide which of the 60-70 skills one wants to spend experience points on. Maybe four classes isn’t quite right, as with these special skills it’s possible to branch into 21 unique classes with all of them combined, adding to the replayability of the game. Of course recruiting or creating new heroes for a powerful party is essential, and as creature summoning is also possible, there are various play styles one can try out. So far, so standard RPG fare, but it’s probably the quite spectacular graphics with cool animations and lighting effects thanks to the Unreal Engine 4 that make this game a joy to play, even though there seem to have been a fair few framerate stutters and texture problems on release day which will hopefully be addressed (or have already been) with patches. As it stands, it’s great to finally see an RPG with first-person turn-based combat that sets itself apart from inXile entertainment’s last isometric titles Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut or Torment: Tides of Numenera.
The game is already out on PC since September 18, 2018, but with two patches released so far, it should be a much smoother experience now. It comes in various editions: While the Standard Edition includes a digital code wheel (for old time feeling’s sake), a digital guidebook, the manual, and the Fire Horn as an in-game item, the Premium Edition offers a hi-res map, hi-res wallpapers, digital novellas, a digital art book, songbook, and Kaels Axe Puzzle weapon, Red Boot plus the Bardic Brian skin & booty as in-game items. If this wasn’t enough, then one can also opt to get the Platinum Edition that has the digital soundtrack or even the Ultimate Edition that includes the The Bard’s Tale Trilogy games.
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