Posted by Evolve on Mar 30, 2018 | In: General News
You'd be forgiven for not knowing what the Bard's Tale series was, though I'm certain some of you out there are old enough to remember it. The Bard's Tale games were a trilogy of fantasy role-playing titles released to PCs back from 1985 to 1988, with the first game releasing onto the Apple II. They brought a lot of innovating new mechanics to the genre, especially for its graphical style at the time. After a whole three decades, a new fourth installment is finally close to releasing, titled The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep. This game had a Kickstarter campaign back in 2016 that got successfully funded and has been in development since then, with a release expected later this year.
GameInformer finally got a hands-on session with the game, which is currently still in its Alpha phase, so a lot of it will be worked on considerably from now to the final product. A lot of stuff found in the play session was reminiscent of the old games, featuring a heavy emphasis on dungeon crawling, puzzles, turn-based combat, and the like. The new game takes place 100 years after the story of Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate, setting it far apart enough that if you want IV to be your point to get into the series, it would certainly be understandable.
While keeping all of the above mechanics in place to evoke a similar style to the originals, the combat has gotten a lot of cool new features that put Bard's Tale IV in line with a lot of more modern titles; most curiously, digital card games. The combat is still turn based like before but takes place in a sort of grid where characters' positions can lead to advantages or disadvantages for you. Characters up front will take more damage but can land critical hits, for example, while the opposite is true of characters in the back. Battles therefore become a sort of puzzle where you have to strategize positioning and take stock of the enemy side's layout and capabilities, even introducing things later like armor types and elemental damages. It feels very similar to games like Elder Scrolls Legends and Hearthstone and is a rather fitting choice for its fantasy setting.
With all of this in mind, Bard's Tale IV sounds like a perfect romp for those who could use a good old-fashioned fantasy RPG with fun exploration elements. The game also has a witty tongue-in-cheek style humor to everything, just so it's not taken too seriously. The game is set to release to Windows PC sometime this year, though a specific date hasn't been confirmed yet, given the early stage it's in. The developers making it at Inxile Entertainment are considering a console release of some sort, but don't have any information on that yet. Regardless, the project looks to be shaping up quite nicely and will be a good way to bring the series of old to a modern audience.