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The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions #1163650
09/20/18 07:04 PM
09/20/18 07:04 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 6,336
Wisconsin
Trail_Mystic Offline OP
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I'm not sure if there's such a thing as being anxiously tentative or tentatively anxious, but that's the best way I can describe my wait for the release of The Bard's Tale IV. InXile is the same development house that brought us Torment: Tides of Numenera, based on the iconic Planescape universe; they promised much, and delivered short. As such, I've been hoping that Bard's Tale would be a more well rounded release that would do it's predecessors honor. I can't fully speak to that point yet, as I've only spent a few hours on the game so far. That said, I think I have a good enough grasp to relate some general information on the attribute of this "new" RPG. I'll be very high level in my descriptions in order to preserve the newness for those planning on playing, and well, because it's still relatively early in the game for me (I think).

Basic Info
The story line is similar to many RPG's, hinging on ancient gods, their creations and battles between disparate races. The first chapter is set up as a tutorial, which is good, because being one of those individuals who rarely reads the manuals unless forced into it, I need some guidance. They run you through the basics of communication, movement, martial combat, magic use and the save system. That last one will disappoint some, and it did surprise me as well - It's a checkpoint save system. More about that in a moment.

Animation, controls and character builds/development
The character models are OK, but could use work. Some models feel more like a caricature and they tend to use the same face or masked face on multiple NPC's in the same scene, which is distracting. Backgrounds, general environment and interactive objects are actually very nice. Character movement, item activation and dialogue is controlled mainly through mouse clicks, with keyboard bindings for some specifics like your Inventory (I) and Character Sheet (C). The inventory is easy to manage and the character sheet seems fairly intuitive. I say "seems" because I've started with a pre-built and have only dabbled with the character options. From what I've seen though, they look meager and basic. That is disappointing for a game that should be full of multiple character races with all sorts of permutations - sadly, that is not the case. Additionally, character leveling happens with little pomp and less reason. New skills are just doled out according to the level and there's little sense in how or why.

Your view is first person and the only time you actually meet a fully animated character in your party is the first time you come across them. After that, they are portraits that come up on the head's up display/battle grid. The only time you see your character is in the character sheet/inventory screen and on the aforementioned. The portraits are dimensional, animated cut-outs; so a step above the vintage games of old that used a static picture. This is a good and bad thing, because as mentioned, the fully animated models need a lot of work. I wish they would have used the grid portrait for the character and inventory screens, because the models shown are built in a rather lazy manner and look nothing like the portrait. Each party member and your character has a place on the front end display, which converts to the old school battle grid when in combat.

Save games are as mentioned earlier, done through a check point system. There are quite a few through the game and an additional feature called a "Luck Stone" that appear near areas of combat, where your character will respawn in case of defeat. I haven't had an issue with them, but really can't understand why they would do it in an RPG like this, unless there was some development time savings involved.

Combat
Confrontations are purely turn-based, using the familiar battle grid system requiring use of opportunity points for attacks (magic or martial), heals or buffs, and movement. A mini-map in the heads up display shows the location of nearby foes as well as quest markers. Magic effects are quick, and honestly not very impressive. Martial attacks look like you're hitting your opponent with your portrait. Other than the statics and some very specific background scenes, the animations are, like the character models, lazily built.

Music and Dialogue
The voice acting is well done, which makes up for the lack of depthy dialogue. The music is also well done, but doesn't make up for plot changes that seem to show continuity issues in the story.



Over all, the game feels like it was rushed. I certainly hope they intend on coming back with updates and additions to the game, but I am again getting the same feeling I had with Torment: Tides of Numenera. I'm becoming somewhat disillusioned with Fargo and InXile Studios. Considering they're history, these lack luster offerings do not do the games of the past justice.

If you are trying to decide between The Bards Tale and Larian Studio's new offering Divinity: Original Sin 2, I would suggest you go with the latter.




"A world is supported by four things: The learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous, the valor of the brave, but all of these are as nothing without a ruler who knows the art of ruling - Make that the science of your tradition."

The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam from the novel Dune
Re: The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions [Re: Trail_Mystic] #1163657
09/20/18 07:47 PM
09/20/18 07:47 PM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 35,857
near Yosemite in California
Marian Offline
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Marian  Offline
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I read what you had to say with great interest, TM. Saw it released on GOG the other day and wondered what it was like. Thank you for taking the time to write all of that. wave

Re: The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions [Re: Marian] #1163658
09/20/18 08:18 PM
09/20/18 08:18 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 6,336
Wisconsin
Trail_Mystic Offline OP
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It's seldom that I am disappointed this early in a game, but it's showing that same pattern as Torment. Big intro, cool story, OK tutorial, so-so combat, and then it plods along, teasing something greater that never seems to appear. I really built this release up on the forum earlier in the year, so had to honestly express what I'm seeing develop. *sigh*


"A world is supported by four things: The learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous, the valor of the brave, but all of these are as nothing without a ruler who knows the art of ruling - Make that the science of your tradition."

The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam from the novel Dune
Re: The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions [Re: Trail_Mystic] #1167613
10/29/18 05:42 PM
10/29/18 05:42 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 6,336
Wisconsin
Trail_Mystic Offline OP
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Well, InXile has not impressed. I'm thoroughly disappointed and I really don't think I'm going to be supporting any future Kickstarters by them. I just received my Bard's Take IV Collector's Edition "Box" It's basically a 10"x10" paper sleeve that other than the CD includes an equally unimpressive game manual and a paper code wheel that looks like something you'd find in a standard version. The print job on the sleeve is nice, but emulating the same packaging used for the original release back in the Commodore-64 era is not a "Box". Oh, and the rumored full-color map of Caith is about 4"x6" and printed on the inside of the sleeve. smirk


"A world is supported by four things: The learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous, the valor of the brave, but all of these are as nothing without a ruler who knows the art of ruling - Make that the science of your tradition."

The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam from the novel Dune
Re: The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions [Re: Trail_Mystic] #1167622
10/29/18 07:15 PM
10/29/18 07:15 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 39,494
southeast USA
Jenny100 Offline
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southeast USA
Sorry to hear that, Trail.
It seems like a lot of "Collector's editions" (and other "physical" editions) from Kickstarters turn out to be really lame and not at all what was described when they were asking for donations.

Re: The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions [Re: Trail_Mystic] #1167624
10/29/18 07:29 PM
10/29/18 07:29 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 13,761
In Missouri near St. Louis
Draclvr Offline
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Posts: 13,761
In Missouri near St. Louis
Kickaha very generously gave me a Steam key for The Bard's Tale 1 - 3 because it was PC only and he has a Mac. I've been waiting to download until I get my computer with a new 1 TB SSD rebuilt. Sounds like I don't need to bother with getting Bard's Tale 4.


In my PC corner for the winter, my little heater by my side, to game, read and knit.
Re: The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions [Re: Jenny100] #1167829
10/31/18 09:56 PM
10/31/18 09:56 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 6,336
Wisconsin
Trail_Mystic Offline OP
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They sent me the wrong version, that was two backer tiers under what I pledged. I just contacted them to get it straightened out. We'll see what comes of this...


"A world is supported by four things: The learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous, the valor of the brave, but all of these are as nothing without a ruler who knows the art of ruling - Make that the science of your tradition."

The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam from the novel Dune
Re: The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions [Re: Trail_Mystic] #1167841
11/01/18 01:14 AM
11/01/18 01:14 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 13,761
In Missouri near St. Louis
Draclvr Offline
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Draclvr  Offline
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Posts: 13,761
In Missouri near St. Louis
Well, that's kind of interesting... So maybe they goofed up?? It will be interesting to see if they follow up.


In my PC corner for the winter, my little heater by my side, to game, read and knit.
Re: The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions [Re: Draclvr] #1171258
12/07/18 06:10 PM
12/07/18 06:10 PM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 35,857
near Yosemite in California
Marian Offline
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Marian  Offline
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Sonic Boomer

Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 35,857
near Yosemite in California
GOG has put this game on sale for a few days, along with saying that the game now has some additional patches/hotfixes.

Re: The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions [Re: Marian] #1171262
12/07/18 08:02 PM
12/07/18 08:02 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 6,336
Wisconsin
Trail_Mystic Offline OP
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Wisconsin
WOW, just logged into GOG galaxy and sure enough a download for Bard's Tale started to the tune of 15GB; that's a pretty significant update. They mention improved functionality and additional content related to the dungeon crawls and puzzles. I'm going to give it a go from the start to see what they did. I'm hoping they improved the functionality of the interface and inventory. That's where I hit most of my issues. Also, some more variety for the character development would be very welcome. The development tree just didn't make a lot of sense to me in the first iteration.


"A world is supported by four things: The learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous, the valor of the brave, but all of these are as nothing without a ruler who knows the art of ruling - Make that the science of your tradition."

The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam from the novel Dune
Re: The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep - First Impressions [Re: Trail_Mystic] #1171264
12/07/18 08:16 PM
12/07/18 08:16 PM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 35,857
near Yosemite in California
Marian Offline
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Marian  Offline
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near Yosemite in California
Yes, I thought of you, TM, when I saw this on GOG today. Hopefully there will be some noticeable improvements. That's a mighty big update.

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