Perhaps the most important thing you need to know about The Bard’s Tale 4 – this is a very old-fashioned game. Managing a detachment of adventurers, which can be up to 6 people at the same time, you explore the world inhabited by elves, dwarf and other creatures and try to save him from awakening once again the Ancient Evil. There is no moral ambiguity and other topics that have become fashionable in the genre-only the traditional fantasy, only sometimes diluted with very good humor.
You watch events from the first person, you move around the world in real time, and you fight in a step-by-step mode. Locations in the game are large, but about any open world is out of the question – in The Bard’s Tale 4, even walking in the fresh air, you actually explore a maze consisting of “corridors” and “rooms”. In General, fundamentally the game is much closer to RPG-classics, such as Eye of the Beholder or Might & Magic, than to modern games caliber Skyrim. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The graphics in Barrows Deep are quite simple, but the scenery is simply stunning.
Despite the fact that these days The Bard’s Tale 4 may seem something “stripped-down”, to break away from it is very difficult. It is enough to play just half an hour to feel how much tightens the study of endless mazes and battles with the evil spirits inhabiting them. In fact, fighting is one of the reasons why The Bard’s Tale 4 is so fascinated. The developers did not copy a fairly simple combat system of the original, and came up with a new one. It is built on action points. And if in other similar games, each character has an individual reserve of strength, then in Barrows Deep the points of the group are common, and you decide who, what and when does it in your turn. Because of this, it is necessary to plan actions even more carefully, especially in serious battles.
Additional problems are added by characters who use spells. They need another resource, points of magic, and the way the game treats them, is more like Magic: the Gathering than the usual RPG. The amount of magic is not constant: starting a fight, your mages are almost helpless, and they need to first accumulate magical power with the help of potions and meditation, and only then start throwing lightning. Sorcerers also linked to the common stock of action points, and the use of their abilities in fact will not release the player from the hassle of planning, but only adds to this system another layer.
If you do not have time to relax, it may happen that your warrior is out of place took advantage of the “road” AoE-ability, which is why the magician with the priest did not have the glasses to meditate, and the next move you start almost defenseless, as not prepared any serious damage or treatment. And such stories often end in tears.
The most powerful spells, as a rule, also require additional training, which takes at least a whole move, and during which the sorcerer can do nothing more. This also makes you think first, and then act
But, perhaps, the most unusual fighting mechanics here at bards. Normal spells they are not trained, but can sing magical songs, which also needs magic. That’s just earn it not by meditation or other spiritual practices, and with the help of alcohol. Swallowed in the battle of beer – can cover mates with a magic shield. Drank something stronger-earned even more magic and reduced all opponents for the whole course. The trick, as in real life, is not to overdo it. After all, the bard is not only filled with magical energy, but also gradually gets drunk, and if the number of points of intoxication exceeds the indicator of his intelligence, the singer will first receive a short-term bonus to strength, and then pass out until the end of the fight. In addition, to keep the bard on alert, you need to constantly monitor the supply of alcohol and time to replenish them.
Unexpectedly big role in Barrows Deep is played by puzzles. They are here just a huge amount – the average dungeon to solve puzzles spend at least no less time than the fight. Fortunately, the complexity of most puzzles is perfectly balanced, and they are very interesting – so it looks like it’s not as an obstacle, but as an additional entertainment. There are even stunning episodes, like the Watch tower-a fairly large location at the beginning of the game. Literally at the entrance you are offered to solve a musical puzzle with bells, which is then played in a completely new way on each new floor, creating a sense of a special integrity.
Almost any location in The Bard’s Tale 4 is full of hiding places and secrets, so you want to climb it all and look under every stone!
Of course, not all puzzles came out equally well. For example, constantly repeated puzzles with gears – a clear failure, because they are solved by simple brute force. Not a very successful idea with a special elven weapons. According to the authors, the player had to reveal his possibilities, solving puzzles, located directly on the weapon. But in the end, the imagination was enough for only a few varieties of problems, and among them were predictable “tag” – the most miserable and common puzzle in the world. Because of this, the improvement of weapons – one of the few situations in the Bard’s Tale 4, where most often you just want to quickly deal with the mystery and go on about their business.
Finally,the game also has a very flexible system of leveling. The same hero can develop in completely different ways: warrior to make unkillable “tank” or Vice versa to inject all the damage the mage to turn into a martial spells or Summoner. There are even classes, the existence of which at the beginning of the game you do not suspect, and which become available to characters later, if not lazy to perform additional quests.
Thanks to all this, in the Bard’s Tale 4 is really easy to disappear for a long time. She’s one of those games that you sit in the morning on the weekend, and then you look at the clock and find that it’s almost midnight. And we would be happy to put an end to this, but, alas, without a few serious problems has not done.
Ill-fated “tag”. If we could do without them, the game would be even better.
So, the talent of designers of The Bard’s Tale 4 nevertheless did not prevent them to mess up in, apparently, absolutely obvious things, like work with stock. Found good in the game develops into a common “backpack”, divided into several pages. Items come across a lot, no automatic sorting is not, so the inventory quickly turns into a garbage can. And even if you manually arrange the items as convenient, then after a while the problem will return. Why? It’s very simple – even if some object (say, a potion) is already in the inventory, but lies on the third page, and the first is free space, the new instances will fall exactly on the first page, where they must again manually drag and drop in the correct pile. Or put up with the constant mess, choose for yourself.
But that’s not all. The Bard’s Tale 4 – a game with a lot of mistakes! Problems begin literally with the settings screen, because the game is broken full-screen mode-attempts to turn it on just led to a black screen, which is not saved even restart. To return the default options, you had to delete the folder in the Windows user directory. The list of problems can be continued for a long time: the game slows down even on very decent configurations, the map and minimap sometimes displays objects that are actually not there, and in the dialogues sometimes appear replicas that must be hidden until the interlocutor will not reveal additional information to you.
And this, oddly enough, is not a mistake ! In one of the locations you can really meet a levitating Goblin in a clown outfit. True, he’s already dead – but you can kick across the room.
There are not-so-funny situation. For example, once we moved from one location to another and found that all items were missing from the inventory. And another time stuck in the textures on a small patch, so much so that I had to load the save.
By itself, the Bard’s Tale 4 – a very good game, the authors of which took the best from the classic RPG 80’s and 90’s, and added new ideas. This is a real gift for all fans of the genre – both for veterans and for those who have never seen the original trilogy. Be sure to play a month or two – by this time bugs and other problems should be less.